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Indoor mask mandate to remain in effect rest of year in Buncombe County

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Matt Bush
/
Blue Ridge Public Radio

The mask mandate for indoor public spaces in Buncombe County will remain in effect for the rest of the year.  The county board of commissioners Tuesday extended the measure until January 3rd, 2022.

The mask mandate was scheduled to expire Tuesday.  It extends to the cities of Asheville, Biltmore Forest, Black Mountain, Montreat, Weaverville, and Woodfin.

In a statement, county public health director Stacie Saunders said COVID-19 cases continue to increase.  "The percent positivity is now consistently above 5% again, and we are likely to see a further increase after the Thanksgiving holiday,” said Saunders. “Transitioning to living with COVID-19 means doing what we can now to reduce transmission and burden of new infections. Our goal is to dampen as much as possible any surge we may see during this holiday season with the hope of achieving decreasing case rate and spread as we enter the new year.”  She and county board chair Brownie Newman are due to speak at a press briefing Wednesday to give more information.

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Buncombe County gets a 'red' or 'high' ranking for transmission from the CDC, which is the highest ranking given.  Much of the rest of Western North Carolina has that ranking as well, as only Clay County has a 'yellow' or 'moderate' transmission ranking as of Tuesday evening.  Cherokee, Jackson, McDowell, and Transylvania Counties have the 'orange' or 'substantial' ranking from the CDC.