Helen Chickering

All Things Considered Host, Reporter

Helen Chickering is a reporter and host of All Things Considered on Blue Ridge Public Radio.  She joined the station in November 2014.

Helen grew up in Texas.  Her broadcast career began in television news in 1985 at WLBT, the NBC affiliate in Jackson, Mississippi.  There she did everything from news to weather and found her niche in medical reporting.  Over the next 20 years she covered health and science news on both local and national levels, including 5 years in Charlotte at the CBS affiliate, WBTV.   In 1998, Helen helped launch the health and science desk at NBC News Channel, the network's affiliate news service.  She became the first journalist to serve as president of the National Association of Medical Communicators and was on the founding board of the Science Communicators of North Carolina.  

In 2012, Helen and her family moved to Asheville from Chapel Hill and she started working as a freelance producer and as a Montessori teaching assistant.  A longtime NPR listener, she was thrilled to land a job at Blue Ridge Public Radio.   Helen is an active member of the Asheville Science Tavern and a guest lecturer and an advisory board member at the University of North Carolina's Medical and Science Journalism Program.

Ways to Connect

BPR News

While much of BPR's coronavirus coverage is dedicated to updates from health and government officials, we are working to reach out to the community - including local restaurants.  On Tuesday March 17, Governor Roy Cooper issued an Executive order closing sit-down Service at restaurants and bars across the state– which forced many to close.  But some have been working to stay open including a sandwich shop down the street from the Blue Ridge Public Radio.  BPR's  Helen Chickering has been checking in..

BPR News

Should I get tested? Local health officials are recommending people who are not critically ill call their primary care provider, an urgent care center or local health department to be screened over the phone.   Many local providers are able to order a COVID-19 test, but health officials stress it is important to call first.

It’s important to remember facts not fear when it comes to finding out more about the coronavirus and how to filter that information.  Need an answer now?  Dial 2-1-1 or 888-892-1162.  Sign up for updates by texting COVIDNC to 898211

For mental health resources in Western North Carolina the public is encouraged to call the  Vaya Health 24/7 Access to Care Line 800-849-6127 

Governor Cooper and NC Health Officials hold a news conference about the latest coronavirus positive test result in NC.  Watch it here: 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevent

At 2pm Friday - Gov.

WNC Ag Center

There will be no water in the hot tubs at the AG Center in Fletcher this weekend, The AG center is hosting a hot tub expo – just months after the Legionnaire’s outbreak linked to hot tub displays at the Center. BPR’s Helen Chickering has details.

CDC

3/3/2020 -   North Carolina has reported its first case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.  State health officials say the test, conducted by North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health, is presumptively positive and will be confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lab. 

The North Carolina person from Wake County traveled to the state of Washington and was exposed at a long-term care facility where there is currently a COVID-19 outbreak.  The unidentified  person is doing well and is in isolation at home.  

BPR News

While Presidential candidates have been grabbing most of the attention ahead of Tuesday’s primary in North Carolina, a number of organizations have been working to raise awareness about local candidates and issues.

cdc.gov

North Carolina health and public safety officials jumped ahead of President Trump’s news conference to update the state’s coronavirus preparedness efforts.  BPR’s Helen Chickering reports

A birthday celebration for the late legendary singer-songwriter and civil rights activist Nina Simone will be held this weekend in her hometown of Tryon.   The public is invited to celebrate and to share their ideas about the future of Simone’s birthplace.     BPR’s Helen Chickering reports.

USFS

The public comment period is underway for  drafts of the Nantahala and Pisgah forest plan and environmental impact statement. The plan is a strategic framework for how the over 1 million acres of the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests will be managed for the next 10 to 15 years.  Michelle Aldrige is the team lead for the forest plan revision and says this is the first time that there has been this much public involvement in the planning process.

BPR

Climate change is a complicated topic, especially when you start to unpack the impact on human health.   In this installment of BPR's Climate City series,  Helen Chickering  introduces us to two WNC researchers who are collaborating to tackle that challenge. 

CREDIT CDC/DR. FRED MURPHY / WIKIPEDIA

North Carolina now has a  task force dedicated to help residents say safe and informed about COVID 19 – the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 1,000 in China.  BPR’s Helen Chickering reports.

01/30/20 — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today released the final report on the public health investigation into an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in people who attended the 2019 NC Mountain State Fair at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center in Fletcher.   While there isn't a 'smoking gun', the report confirms earlier findings that  the outbreak was likely caused by exposure to Legionella bacteria in aerosolized water from hot tubs that were on display during the fair at the Ag Center in Fletcher.   

BPR News

Climate change is getting lots of attention on the 2020 campaign trail.   Among the popular slogans  -  "12 years to fix the climate".  It appears on signs and in speeches, but what does it really mean?   BPR’s Helen Chickering  met with the science editor  who worked on the report that launched the catch phrase.  

BPR News

Boston, Chicago, Houston and Austin will soon be a non-stop plane ride away from Asheville.  The budget airline Allegiant is adding the four cities to its service from the Asheville Regional airport

NCDHHS

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reporting the first influenza-associated pediatric death for the 2019–2020  flu season. Health officials say a child in Western North Carolina died in December from complications associated with influenza infection. To protect the family’s privacy, no further information regarding this child will be released.

The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority is hosting community workshops around one of two projects designed to honor the rich heritage of the African American community in Asheville.  The African American Heritage Walking Trail will connect historic African American communities in downtown Asheville.

Press release from Explore Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau:

We use stories to make sense of the world. How will Asheville tell an inclusive story of its history?

NCDHHS

Buncombe County Health and Human Services has confirmed the first flu-related death in the county during the 2019-2020 flu season.  According to a BCHHS press release, the death occurred in an adult under age 65.   No further details about the case have been released. According to the North Carolina Division of Public Health, as of December 28, 2019, there have been 10 flu-related deaths in North Carolina residents. 

2020 will ring in a new vaccine requirement in North Carolina.  It's  the first ever targeting high school students. BPR’s Helen Chickering has details.

December 15 is the enrollment deadline for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, which became law nearly ten years ago. BPR’s Helen Chickering checked in with Jackie Kiger at Pisgah Legal Services  to find out what people need to know as they navigate this year’s marketplace.  

BPR News

What do turkeys and hurricanes have in common?   Thanksgiving -   the holiday weekend  marks the end of the 2019 hurricane season. This year powerful slow moving storms like Dorian invigorated the conversation about the impact of climate change on hurricanes.  BPR’s Helen Chickering talked with a climate scientist based here in Asheville who has been tackling that question.

BPR News

The Department of Transportation picked the Asheville Regional Airport as the backdrop to announce major funding grants for airport hubs across the country – including a hefty sum for Asheville.  North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis(R-NC) was on hand as Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao made the grant announcement.

“The Asheville Regional Airport will receive 10 million dollars for terminal rehabilitation,” says Chao, “This makes Asheville one of 8 in the nation to receive 10 million or more in this round.”


BPR News

This week community advocates, education and business leaders from across the region are gathering in Asheville to tackle an issue that has connections to both climate change and hunger - food waste.   Some of the most creative and successful solutions are happening on college campuses.  BPR's Helen Chickering visited UNC Asheville where some small changes are making a big difference.

BPR News

In 1976, before climate change was really on the public radar, North Carolina created the State Climate Office.  Today, it is the second largest state climate office in the U.S. This summer, Kathie Dello took the helm and became the first woman to serve as North Carolina's state climatologist.  Dello was in Asheville this week and talked about her role with BPR’s Helen Chickering. 

BPR News

In 1976, long before climate change was on the public radar, North Carolina created the State Climate Office.   Today, it is the second largest  office in the country.  This summer, Kathie Dello took the helm, becoming the first woman to serve as North Carolina's state climatologist.  Dello was in Asheville this week and talked about her role with BPR’s Helen Chickering. 

 

Buncombe County Schools

Educators, mental health professionals, and law enforcement are gathering in Asheville this weekend to tackle what has been dubbed “an unaddressed public health crisis.”  BPR’s Helen Chickering talked with one of the conference organizers who is helping shine the spotlight on the issue here in Western North Carolina.

UPDATE: 10/31 : The Davis Event Center at the Ag Center in Fletcher is back open for events.   That’saccording to a statement by the Department of Agriculture. This comes more than a month after a Legionnaires outbreak was linked to the Mountain State Fair at the Ag Center.  More than 140 people came down with the respiratory illness that is contracted by breathing in water droplets that contain the Legionella bacteria.

scientist.com

It's been a month since health officials announced the Legionnaires' outbreak linked to the Mountain State Fair.  

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