WNC COVID-19 Updates: Statewide Stay Home Order In Effect, Concerns Over Paying Rent Appear

Find COVID-19 resources and the latest case count in North Carolina here and testing information here. (3/30 6:30 p.m.) Jackson County issued a strict amendment to its state of emergency last week which set up a protocol for any out-of-state visitors to bring their own supplies to the county and be quarantined for 14-days upon arrival.

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The State of Things

“The State of Things” covers diverse issues & topics in NC. Frank Stasio talks to authors, musicians, politicians, & citizens about subjects that matter to North Carolinians.
Cass Herrington / BPR News

A local language services provider is urging community leaders to consider Western Carolina’s Spanish-speaking residents when sharing vital updates on COVID-19.

When infectious pathogens have threatened the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been front and center. During the H1N1 flu of 2009, the Ebola crisis in 2014, and the mosquito-borne outbreak of Zika in 2015, the CDC has led the federal response.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are relying more heavily on automated systems to flag content that violate their rules, as tech workers were sent home to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

So far, the coronavirus has hit hardest in wealthy countries. But the pandemic now appears poised to explode in many parts of the developing world — which has far fewer resources to combat the virus.

The virus initially traveled outward from China to places that had the most interaction with China. These are the richer parts of East Asia — South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore — along with Europe and the United States. All these places had lots of flights, business dealings and tourism with China.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to the panic-buying of one item in particular: toilet paper.

Stores have been rationing the goods, in some cases, doling out as little as one roll apiece. This sudden demand for what some are calling "white gold" is proving a challenge — and an opportunity — for one fledgling family business in a Maine, where the paper industry has seen some hard times.

Updated at 11:11 p.m. ET

A New Jersey Army National Guardsman who had tested positive for the coronavirus and been hospitalized since March 21, died Saturday, according to the Department of Defense.

The service member was identified as by Gen. Joseph Lengyel, head of the National Guard Bureau, as Army Capt. Douglas Linn Hickok, a physician assistant, who served in the U.S. Army Medical Command.

The death marks the first service member to have died from the coronavirus.

Over the weekend, the Food and Drug Administration granted two malaria drugs "emergency use authorization" for the treatment of COVID-19. The move makes it easier to add the medicines to the strategic stockpile, which can be drawn upon in the current public health emergency.

The drugs — chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine — have been identified as potential COVID-19 treatments based on lab tests and small, limited studies in humans.

During his coronavirus task force briefing Monday evening, President Trump repeated his claim that the United States has done "more tests by far than any country in the world."

Three major health insurance providers have now pledged to shield patients from high medical bills if they need treatment for COVID-19. Insurers Cigna and Humana announced Monday that they would waive consumer costs associated with COVID-19 treatment.

In communities where most coronavirus tests are coming back positive, it's a sign there are many more cases there that haven't been found, say World Health Organization officials in a press conference on Monday.

"If 80-90% of the people test positive, you are probably missing a lot of cases," says Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program.

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Arts & Performance

courtesy of the artist


Cynthia McDermott is tall, tattooed and muscular, and that visual is all the more more striking when you see her on stage with a tiny mandolin, singing her custom mashup of early jazz, hip-hop and contemporary R&B.

“I wanted to find a way to make older jazz and swing more relevant to a wider audience and also to myself,” she said.

McDermott’s band is the Pimps of Pompe and, before the Coronavirus wiped out every public function, they had a March 31 show planned to celebrate their self-titled debut album. The songs jump from Beyonce and Salt ‘n’ Pepa to Django Reinhardt and a couple originals.

Cheyenne Dancy

Two weekends ago, when music and theatrical performances everywhere began to topple like dominoes, Katie Jones, the artistic director of Asheville’s Magnetic Theatre, spoke with the cast and crew about to premiere the play “Traitor.”

“It was late Thursday night, and this particular group had been through their dress rehearsal,” Jones said. “They’ve done a whole production’s worth of work and I thought ‘OK, if we don’t do this production now, we’re never gonna get to do it.’”

Opening night was nearly a sellout. The next night, only half the people who purchased tickets in advance showed up. On Sunday morning, Jones canceled the two remaining weekends of “Traitor.”

Now, while artists everywhere are considering their options for presenting work and earning money online, those who produce staged theater face unique, daunting challenges.

 

Evoke Emotion Photography


Melissa Hyman is a cellist and Ryan Furstenberg a guitarist, who write and record music as The Moon and You from their home in West Asheville. For the married couple and countless musicians here and everywhere, March 13 was their Black Friday.

“I was realizing we were gonna need to cancel everything,” Hyman said.

courtesy of the artist


Blake Ellege is a musician and vocalist in Brevard who counts nine bands he performs in. He remembers getting a call last Thursday warning the Coronavirus could threaten some upcoming shows.

“I kid you not, literally, five minutes later, the same colleague notified me that two of my gigs that week had been canceled,” Ellege said.

Five hours later, another call—more canceled shows. An hour after that, one of Ellege’s side hustles—spending two months every spring as an Easter Bunny mascot at the Asheville Mall—was also gone.

“It was a matter of four days that I lost all of my income for March and April,” he said. “It’s amazing just to see so many musicians that I look up to who are losing work just like me, and I thought something needs to be done, something has to be done.”

Ellege dreamed up what he’s calling the Quarantine Concert Series. He has partnered with the video outlet I Am AVL and the Orange Peel to produce nightly concerts from local artists. These performances, hosted in the Orange Peel’s Pulp Lounge, are livestreamed through I AM AVL’s website and Facebook page, where audiences are encouraged to tip artists.