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Indoor Mask Requirement Returning To Buncombe County

Matt Bush

An indoor mask requirement will be returning in Buncombe County.  County board chair Brownie Newman said in a social media post Thursday that commissioners will vote on the measure at their next meeting this coming Tuesday.  Newman added he’s spoken with Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer and the city will align its policies with the county's.  Newman says the reinstatement of requiring masks indoors at public facilities and businesses is due to the rapid rise of COVID-19 infections, which have more than doubled in the past two weeks in Buncombe County due to the Delta variant.  The current rate of incidence of new cases is 7.4% according to county health officials.  Three weeks ago, it was 3.4%.

Facebook post by Buncombe County Board Chair Brownie Newman on Thursday August 12th

Just over 8% of in-patient hospital beds in the Buncombe County are dedicated to COVID-19 patients, but that number is expected to rise as it’s considered a lagging indicator of the virus’ spread.  Vaccination rates have improved in the county over the past week, as 61% of the total population has received at least one vaccine shot, and 58% are totally vaccinated.  Those rates were 55% and 53% respectively last week.  They remain the highest vaccination rates in Western North Carolina. 

Residents can receive a vaccine for free and without making an appointment Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the Buncombe County Health Department Building at 40 Coxe Avenue in Asheville.

Matt Bush joined Blue Ridge Public Radio as news director in August 2016. Excited at the opportunity the build up the news service for both stations as well as help launch BPR News, Matt made the jump to Western North Carolina from Washington D.C. For the 8 years prior to coming to Asheville, he worked at the NPR member station in the nation's capital as a reporter and anchor. Matt primarily covered the state of Maryland, including 6 years of covering the statehouse in Annapolis. Prior to that, he worked at WMAL in Washington and Metro Networks in Pittsburgh, the city he was born and raised in.