WNC COVID-19 'Phase 2' Updates

May 24, 2020

This page is no longer being updated.  For the latest news, go to our Phase 2.5 update page.

(9/4 3:30 p.m.) A Cherokee County resident that was previously reported to have COVID-19 has died from complications of COVID-19. This individual was in their early eighties. This is the seventh COVID-19 related death in Cherokee County, according to the local health department.

(9/4 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 174,254 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 2,045 cases from the day before.  955 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 97 from the day before.  2,839 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 36 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 7,333 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 192 deaths, an increase of 66 cases and 4 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(9/3 5 p.m.) The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have announced that they will be rolling back COVID-19 restrictions similarly to Governor Cooper’s Phase 2.5. Chief Richard Sneed announced in an executive order that: mass gathering limitations will be increased to 25 individuals indoors and 50 individuals outdoors; gyms, bowling alleys and indoor exercise facilities may reopen at 50 percent capacity and Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos will be allowed to increase their occupancy to 50 percent on the gaming floors. The order advises that religious gatherings continue to follow social distancing guidelines. 

(9/3 3 p.m.) At the end of last week, Swain County Schools announced that one student tested positive for COVID-19. School will continue on as scheduled. 

(9/3 2 p.m.) The Jackson County Board of Education voted to move forward to Plan A/B at their work session on September 1.  Interim Superintendent Dr. Tony Tipton recommended the change that allows students to return to their classrooms for part of the week beginning September 14. Tipton says that they are comfortable moving into the next phase of re-opening schools.

“Our cases in-school right now, we’d only had two cases of in-school; a student being identified, so we felt pretty comfortable to go forward," says Tipton. 

Jackson County began the school year in August with two weeks of orientation on the A/B schedule followed by the current two weeks of remote learning for all students.

(9/3 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 172,209 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,676 cases from the day before.  858 people are currently hospitalized, no change from the day before.  2,803 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 24 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 7,267 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 188 deaths, an increase of 104 cases and 0 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(9/2 4 p.m.) Fourteen more COVID-19 cases have been identified at Graham Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center. Last Monday, two cases were announced along with three more cases on Friday. This means a total of 19 people at the facility including residents and staff have tested positive for COVID-19.

(9/2 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 170,533 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,129 cases from the day before.  858 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 88 from the day before.  2,779 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 38 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 7,163 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 188 deaths, an increase of 50 cases and 3 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(9/1 4 p.m.) A Cherokee County resident that was previously reported to have COVID-19 has died from complications of the virus. The individual was in their late fifties. This is the sixth COVID-19 related death in Cherokee County, according to the local health department. 

(9/1 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 169,424 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 2,111 cases from the day before.  946 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 23 from the day before.  2,741 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 39 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 7,113 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 185 deaths, an increase of 61 cases and 2 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(9/1 10:30 a.m.) Seventeen residents of Harrill Hall at Western Carolina University have tested positive for COVID-19. The cluster is the first during the fall semester, according to Jackson County Public Health.  The university’s COVID-19 dashboard says that since last Thursday, there have been 38 new student COVID cases and 1 subcontractor at the school has tested positive for COVID-19.

(8/31 5:30 p.m.) Three Macon County residents diagnosed with COVID-19 have died. These individuals were over the age of 65 and had underlying health conditions. This brings the number of COVID-19 deaths in Macon County up to seven.

(8/31 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 167,313 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,186 cases from the day before.  923 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 6 from the day before.  2,702 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 10 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 7,052 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 183 deaths, an increase of 73 cases and 0 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/30 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 166,127 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,051 cases from the day before.  917 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 48 from the day before.  2,692 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 9 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 6,979 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 183 deaths, an increase of 34 cases and 0 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/29 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 165,076 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 2,585 cases from the day before.  965 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 5 from the day before.  2,683 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 31 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 6,945 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 183 deaths, an increase of 108 cases and 1 death from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/28 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 162,491 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,415 cases from the day before.  970 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 12 from the day before.  2,652 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 22 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 6,837 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 182 deaths, an increase of 80 cases and 3 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/27 4:30 p.m.) Four schools in Macon County went fully virtual this week due to multiple confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Franklin High School, Macon Middle School, Mountain View Intermediate and Union Academy will be all virtual until at least September 11th. The county’s elementary schools will decide Friday if they should go fully virtual as well.  Over 150 people in the Macon County school system, both students and staff, were in quarantine due to COVID-19 on Monday. 

As of 4pm, there have been 20 positive individuals in the school system since August 10, according to Macon County Public Health. This accounts for teachers, staff, and students. There have been 538 COVID-19 cases and 4 related deaths overall in the county since the start of the pandemic

(8/27 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 161,076 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 2,091 cases from the day before.  958 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 46 from the day before.  2,630 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 24 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 6,757 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 179 deaths, an increase of 83 cases and 1 death from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/26 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 158,985 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,244 cases from the day before.  1,004 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 4 from the day before.  2,606 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 36 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 6,674 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 178 deaths, an increase of 43 cases and 2 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/25 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 157,741 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,345 cases from the day before.  1,000 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 52 from the day before.  2,570 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 35 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 6,641 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 176 deaths, an increase of 38 cases and 2 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/24 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 156,396 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,283 cases from the day before.  948 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 50 from the day before.  2,535 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 4 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 6,603 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 174 deaths, an increase of 62 cases and 0 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/23 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 155,113 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,472 cases from the day before.  898 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 98 from the day before.  2,531 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 10 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 6,541 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 174 deaths, an increase of 46 cases and 2 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/22 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 153,641 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,729 cases from the day before.  996 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 19 from the day before.  2,521 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 27 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 6,496 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 172 deaths, an increase of 64 cases and 0 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/21 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 151,912 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 2,008 cases from the day before.  1,015 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 8 from the day before.  2,494 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 29 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 6,432 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 172 deaths, an increase of 114 cases and 9 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/20 2 p.m.) Highlands School in Macon County has announced that a member of its Custodial Team has tested positive for COVID-19. This individual has been in quarantine since last week and has not been on campus, according to the school's principal. As a precaution, all of our custodial team has been sent home to quarantine and be tested according to contact tracing protocols.

(8/20 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 149,904 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,972 cases from the day before.  1,023 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 22 from the day before.  2,465 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 34 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 6,318 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 163 deaths, an increase of 112 cases and 0 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/20 12 p.m.) Macon County Schools shared an update on how communications about COVID-19 cases in schools will be shared.  According to a statement, administrators, school nurses, along with county health department communicable disease staff will identify those considered in 'close contact' with a confirmed cases. A close contact is defined as being within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes. If a person is identified as a close contact, they will be instructed to self-quarantine and contacted by contact tracers who will provide further guidance on quarantine and when/where to get tested.  The school, in collaboration with the health department, will send a general notification to families and staff if a cluster of cases are identified (5 or more positive cases) in a school. This notification will not include identifying information about the case (staff or student, names, or grade.) 

(8/20 11 a.m.) Eight students have now tested positive for COVID-19 on Western Carolina University's campus, according to the campus dashboard. Zero employees are listed as testing positive. 

(8/19 5 p.m.) In a statement responding to the six new cases on campus, Western Carolina University says some COVID-19 activity on campus was expected with students’ return for the start of the fall semester on August 17.  The statement explains that case counts can fluctuate daily for a variety of reasons such as actual increases in the number of COVID cases, the effect of lab test returns that may arrive as a batch from off-campus laboratories, and variations in when students self-report.

The active daily case counts do not necessarily represent an outbreak or a cluster, defined as a minimum of five cases with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period and plausible epidemiologic linkage between cases. The university will continue to work closely with county health department staff, and if notified of an outbreak or cluster among WCU employees or students, will make that information available to the campus community.

Western Carolina University says it is prepared for many possible scenarios if local conditions warrant, including a change of instructional modalities. 

(8/19 2:30 p.m.) Macon County Schools have announced that staff at three county schools have tested positive for COVID-19.

Members of Macon Middle School, Mountain View Intermediate School and South Macon Elementary School Cafeteria Teams have tested positive. As a precaution other members of the cafeteria teams have also been sent home to quarantine. These schools will have bagged lunched provided by CareNet tomorrow.

The individuals who have tested positive have not been on campus, according to the school system.

(8/19 1 p.m.) There are now seven students who have COVID-19 on Western Carolina University’s campus. This is six more cases than were reported by the university dashboard on Tuesday.

(8/19 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 147,932 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,153 cases from the day before.  1,001 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 25 from the day before.  2,431 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 35 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 6,206 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 163 deaths, an increase of 84 cases and 3 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/18 4 p.m.) Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin of Macon County Schools confirmed that a staff member at South Macon Elementary tested positive for COVID-19. The staff member has not been at school, which started on Monday. He says Macon County Public Health is working on contact tracing which could include three other Macon County staff.

Baldwin explains that this case isn’t a surprise because of community spread in Macon County – particularly in children. He says since June that kids from age zero to 17-years-old made up about 20 percent of active COVID-19 cases in the county, according to Macon County Public Health.

“That’s a strong indication that COVID-19 is present not only in our students but in our families,” says Baldwin.

He says staffing could be an issue as the school year continues.

“It does impact the school system in terms of how we are going to staff because anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 cannot return to work for 10 days after the positive test and anyone who may have been exposed to the virus cannot return to work for 14 days,” says Baldwin.  

Face-to-face instruction could become impossible if there are too many staff are sent home at one time. Macon County is currently operating on a hybrid Plan B with a virtual academy option

(8/18 1 p.m.) A Macon County Public Health employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee is isolating at home and doing well. Close contacts of the employee have been notified and tested. The necessary steps to disinfect the affected area have been performed.

Macon County Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin confirmed that a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19. Other staff members were exposed on August 17 after parents who had tested positive entered the school building. Macon County Schools says it is working with the Macon County Health Department to contact trace for other possible exposures. When a complete list of staff members are identified, the locations will be named.

(8/18 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 146,779 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,263 cases from the day before.  1,026 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 46 from the day before.  2,396 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 48 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 6,122 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 160 deaths, an increase of 47 cases and 2 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/17 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 145,516 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 584 cases from the day before.  980 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 46 from the day before.  2,348 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 6,075 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 158 deaths, an increase of 37 cases and 0 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/16 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 144,932 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,246 cases from the day before.  934 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 98 from the day before.  2,347 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 4 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 6,038 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 158 deaths, an increase of 91 cases and 1 death from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/15 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 143,706 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,536 cases from the day before.  1,032 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 17 from the day before.  2,343 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 30 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 5,947 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 157 deaths, an increase of 76 cases and 6 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/14 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 142,170 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,346 cases from the day before.  1,049 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 21 from the day before.  2,313 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 26 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 5,871 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 151 deaths, an increase of 62 cases and 3 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/13 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 140,824 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,763 cases from the day before.  1,070 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 8 from the day before.  2,287 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 38 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 5,809 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 148 deaths, an increase of 78 cases and 6 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/12 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 139,061 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,166 cases from the day before.  1,062 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 60 from the day before.  2,249 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 45 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 5,731 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 142 deaths, an increase of 64 cases and 4 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/11 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 137,895 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,051 cases from the day before.  1,122 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 11 from the day before.  2,204 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 32 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 5,677 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 138 deaths, an increase of 29 cases and 6 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/11 10:30 a.m.) The Henderson County Health Department will hold a COVID-19 drive-thru testing site for the public on Saturday, August 15, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Health Department, 1200 Spartanburg Highway, Suite 100, Hendersonville, NC 28792.  The event will be free to the public and all are welcome while supplies last. 

(8/11 9 a.m) A Macon County resident diagnosed with COVID-19 has died. The person was over the age of 65 and had underlying health conditions. This is the fourth COVID-19 death in Macon County. 

“The family and loved ones of this individual are in our thoughts and prayers. As we head back to school, please continue to practice the 3Ws and be mindful of those that are higher risk,” says Kathy McGaha, Macon County Health Director.

(8/10 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 136,844 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 626 cases from the day before.  1,111 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 2 from the day before.  2,172 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 4 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 5,648 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 132 deaths, an increase of 13 cases and 0 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/9 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 136,218 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,452 cases from the day before.  1,109 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 20 from the day before.  2,168 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 8 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 5,635 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 132 deaths, an increase of 77 cases and 0 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/8 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 134,766 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,954 cases from the day before.  1,129 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 6 from the day before.  2,160 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 26 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 5,548 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 132 deaths, an increase of 197 cases and 1 death from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/7 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 132,812 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,545 cases from the day before.  1,123 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 24 from the day before.  2,134 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 42 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 5,351 cases of COVID-19 with 131 deaths, an increase of 91 cases and 4 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/7 11:30 a.m.) Haywood County Public Health received notice of 107 new cases of COVID-19 since the last press release on July 31.  There are 375 cases in Haywood County, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. 

Several of the cases are still in the contact tracing process. Through information provided by the cases that have been interviewed, it was determined they were exposed in the following manner: 33 cases are work-related, most of whom are health care workers, one was out-of-state travel-related, 47 are residents in congregate living facilities, eight are close contacts of someone who is COVID-19 positive and two do not know how they acquired the virus.

(8/7  10 a.m.) Macon County Emergency Management and Macon County Public Health will be hosting a COVID-19 testing clinic for the community in Franklin on August 13. The clinic will be held from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Macon Middle School. Persons may get a COVID-19 test regardless of their ability to pay and do not need to schedule an appointment. The address is 1345 Wells Grove Road in Franklin.

(8/6 4:00 p.m.) - Buncombe County will not force restaurants to stop selling alcohol earlier than the 11 p.m. deadline imposed currently by the state under 'Phase 2' guidelines.  County board chair Brownie Newman said at a Thursday afternoon briefing saying enforcement will be stepped up - through the health department, fire marshal, and law enforecement - instead of having alcohol sales stop at 9 p.m.  

The earlier deadline was discussed by county commissioners at their meeting Tuesday.  Newman adds they’ll reconsider whether the increased enforcement is working after one week.  The 11 p.m. curfew to stop alcohol sales was put it place to stop restaurants from operating like bars late at night.  Bars are closed under the Phase 2 guidelines, which North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced Wednesday will stay in place an additional five weeks.

(8/6 3:30 p.m.) - Buncombe County will resume free community testing sites for COVID-19 this Sunday.  There will be one change from previous sites, which the county had to stop last month when its partner in running them backed out.  Residents will now have to schedule a testing time.  That can be done by completing the county’s self-checker (which can be found here).  The testing sites will be held every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.  Sunday testing will be done at the Allied Health Building on the A-B Tech campus.  Testing on Tuesdays will at the Ingles in Swannanoa off of Route 70.  Thursday testing will be done at the Buncombe County Sports Park.

(8/6 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 131,267 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,979 cases from the day before.  1,147 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 20 from the day before.  2,092 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 42 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 5,351 cases of COVID-19 with 127 deaths, an increase of 102 cases and 3 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/6 10 a.m.) Haywood County Health and Human Services reported six additional COVID-19 associated deaths on Wednesday. The individuals died within the last week, at two separate facilities. 

Five of the deaths list COVID-19 as the underlying cause of death (the disease that initiated the events resulting in death.) One death lists COVID-19 as the primary cause. The individuals were all over the age of 70 and most had underlying medical conditions. To protect the families’ privacy, no further information about these patients will be released.

(8/5 3:30 p.m.) The Jackson County Department of Public Health  confirmed that a recent death in a the county  is related to COVID-19, bringing the total COVID-19 deaths in our county to five. The individual was greater than 75 years old and underlying health conditions. This is the second death reported this week. 

(8/5 3 p.m.) A Cherokee County resident that was previously reported to have COVID-19 has died from complications. This individual was in their early sixties. This is the fourth COVID-19 related death in Cherokee County.

(8/5 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 129,288 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,127 cases from the day before.  1,167 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 1 from the day before.  2,050 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 40 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 5,249 cases of COVID-19 with 124 deaths, an increase of 48 cases and 2 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/4 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 128,161 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,629 cases from the day before.  1,166 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 109 from the day before.  2,010 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 28 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 5,201 cases of COVID-19 with 122 deaths, an increase of 109 cases and 1 death from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/4 11:00 a.m.) - Asheville city schools have canceled all athletic workouts until August 21st for both high school and middle school teams.  The move comes after 4 students – two high schoolers and two middle schoolers – tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.  All four are isolating at home according to the school system.  The positive tests affect four different athletic teams.  A determination will be made on August 21st whether practices can continue.

(8/4 10 a.m.) Due to COVID-19 , Concerts on the Creek organizers in Sylva have postponed the start of the  event season. The schedule is tentatively slated to start on Aug. 7 but it depends on how large public gatherings are allowed to be at that time, which is determined by our Governor.

(8/3 5 p.m.) Macon County Public Health has identified a COVID-19 outbreak in staff and residents at Drake Cottage, a congregate living facility. Four individuals have tested positive for COVID-19. All positive patients are being isolated and are doing well.

(8/3 1 p.m.) Haywood County Health and Human Services is reporting two additional COVID-19 associated deaths. Both individuals died on July 28 at the same facility in Haywood County. 

Both deaths list COVID-19 as the underlying cause of death.  Both individuals were elderly and had several underlying medical conditions. This brings the death total for cases related to COVID-19 up to four. 

(8/3 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 126,532 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,313 cases from the day before.  1,057 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 85 from the day before.  1,982 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 13 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 5,092 cases of COVID-19 with 121 deaths, an increase of 102 cases and 0 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/3 11 a.m.) The Jackson County Department of Public Health has confirmed that a recent death in a Jackson County resident is related to COVID-19, bringing the total COVID-19 deaths in our county to four. The individual was between the ages of 65-74 years of age and had underlying health conditions.

(8/2 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 125,219 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,341 cases from the day before.  1,142 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 9 from the day before.  1,969 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 5 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 4,990 cases of COVID-19 with 121 deaths, an increase of 51 cases and 0 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(8/1 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 123,878 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,730 cases from the day before.  1,151 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 78 from the day before.  1,964 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 40 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, there are 4,939 cases of COVID-19 with 121 deaths, an increase of 113 cases and 3 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(7/31 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 122,148 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,954 cases from the day before.  1,229 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 10 from the day before.  1,924 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 22 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, on July 31st there are 4,826 cases of COVID-19 with 118 deaths, an increase of 85 cases and 2 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(7/30 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 120,194 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 3,109 cases from the day before.  1,239 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 52 from the day before.  1,902 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 38 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, on July 30th there are 4,741 cases of COVID-19 with 116 deaths, an increase of 90 cases and 1 death from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(7/29 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 117,085 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,763 cases from the day before.  1,291 people are currently hospitalized (new record high), an increase of 47 from the day before.  1,865 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 45 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, on July 29th there are 4,651 cases of COVID-19 with 115 deaths, an increase of 81 cases and 5 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(7/28 6 p.m.) School districts across Western North Carolina are having a challenging time figuring out the best way to  reopen schools during the pandemic.    Buncombe County is the second district in the region to change plans.  The board initially chose the governor's  Plan B,   a combination of in-person and remote learning.  During a special meeting on Tuesday, the board voted on a revision dubbed "Plan B Beyond",  with  students continuing  remote learning for the first six weeks of school  after a one to two-week in-person orientation period.   Last week, Asheville City  Schools announced the district was switching from Plan B to online learning for the first nine weeks.

(7/28 5 p.m.) A third Macon County resident diagnosed with COVID-19 has died. The person was over the age of 65 and had underlying health conditions.

Macon County Public Health Director Kathy McGaha explained in a press release:

“With our second and third death occurring within a week of each other, our urgent message to the community continues to be: wear a mask, wash your hands, and wait 6 feet from others.”

(7/28 4 p.m.) The Haywood County Health and Human Services Agency has identified a COVID-19 cluster connected to Waynesville Pharmacy.  Five current or former employees there have tested positive for COVID-19.

The three individuals who are currently employees at the pharmacy have followed all CDC guidelines and have been working with the Haywood County Health Department to determine all close contacts, according to Waynesville Pharmacy. 

The pharmacy has been sanitized and is currently only providing drive-thru and curb side service.  

(7/28 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 116,087 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,749 cases from the day before.  1,244 people are currently hospitalized (new record high), an increase of 75 from the day before.  1,820 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 30 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, on July 28th there are 4,570 cases of COVID-19 with 110 deaths, an increase of 83 cases and 0 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(7/27 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 114,338 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,625 cases from the day before.  1,169 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 1 from the day before.  1,790 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 5 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, on July 27th there are 4,487 cases of COVID-19 with 110 deaths, an increase of 73 cases and 0 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(7/27 10 a.m.) Eight individuals who attended a three-day revival on July 12-14 at the Cashiers Church of God have tested positive for COVID-19. Jackson County Department of Public Health have announced that if you or someone you know attended the three-day revival you may have been exposed to COVID-19. The health department advises that you stay away from others and seek COVID-19 testing. 

(7/26 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 112,713 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,621 cases from the day before.  1,170 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 2 from the day before.  1,785 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 7 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, on July 26th there are 4,414 cases of COVID-19 with 110 deaths, an increase of 97 cases and 1 death from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(7/25 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 111,092 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 2,097 cases from the day before.  1,168 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 14 from the day before.  1,778 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 32 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, on July 25th there are 4,317 cases of COVID-19 with 109 deaths, an increase of 146 cases and 1 death from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(7/24 2:30 p.m.) Haywood County Health and Human Services is reporting the first two COVID-19 associated deaths in Haywood County. Both individuals died on July 23 at two separate facilities in Haywood County.  Both individuals were elderly and had additional underlying medical conditions.

Months after the surrounding counties, Graham County Public Health Department has announced that there is community spread of COVID-19 in the county. There are currently 16 cases of COVID-19 in the county. 

(7/24 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 108,995 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 2,102 cases from the day before.  1,182 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 6 from the day before.  1,746 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 20 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, on July 24th there are 4,171 cases of COVID-19 with 108 deaths, an increase of 126 cases and 1 death from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(7/23 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 106,893 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,892 cases from the day before.  1,188 people are currently hospitalized (new record high), an increase of 51 from the day before.  1,726 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 28 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, on July 23rd there are 4,045 cases of COVID-19 with 107 deaths, an increase of 108 cases and 0 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(7/22 6 p.m.) A Cherokee County resident with COVID-19 has died from complications of the virus, according to the county health department. The individual was in their late eighties. This is the third COVID-19 related death in Cherokee County.

(7/22 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 105,001 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 2,140 cases from the day before.  1,137 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 42 from the day before.  1,698 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 30 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, on July 22nd there are 3,937 cases of COVID-19 with 107 deaths, an increase of 121 cases and 0 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(7/21 3 p.m.) A Macon County resident diagnosed with COVID-19 has died. The person was over the age of 65 and had underlying health conditions. This is the second county resident who has died as a result of COVID-19.

“We want to express our deepest sympathies to the family and their loved ones during this difficult time,” says Kathy McGaha, Macon County Health Director in a press release.  “Our message to the community continues to be: wear a mask, wash your hands, and wait 6 feet from others. Continue to practice social distancing and limit your trip outside your home to help to slow the spread of COVID-19,” continues McGaha. 

(7/21 12:30 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 102,861 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,815 cases from the day before.  1,179 people are currently hospitalized (new record high), an increase of 93 from the day before.  1,668 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 26 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, on July 21st there are 3,816 cases of COVID-19 with 107 deaths, an increase of 118 cases and 1 death from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(7/21 9:00 a.m.) - A-B Tech has announced its reopening plans for the Fall 2020 semester scheduled to begin August 24.  In a statement on Monday, President John Gossett said more than 75% of academic classes will be online or virtual, while 25% will have an in-person component for hands-on training, clinical settings, and labs. 

(7/20 6 p.m.) Henderson County Schools will start the school year on-line, becoming the first district in Western North Carolina to choose a fully remote learning model, dubbed “Plan C” by Governor Roy Cooper.  After a more than four-hour meeting Monday afternoon, the school board chose the virtual option for the first six weeks of school.   Buncombe and Asheville City Schools adopted the Plan-B hybrid approach, with a rotating mix of class-time and virtual learning for elementary and online for upper grades.

(7/20 1:30 p.m.) Five employees of the table games section at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino have tested positive for COVID-19. All positive employees are following isolation orders. The local health departments are working to identify any contacts of the employees.

Qualla Boundary Headstart & Early-Headstart received notification that a student tested positive for COVID-19. Due to this potential exposure both the Qualla Boundary Headstart & Early Headstart and the Big Cove Childcare Center will be closed effective immediately.

Emergency Administrative Leave will be granted to one parent or guardian per household if the family is negatively affected by this closure Tuesday,July 21 through Thursday,July 23 for a total of 24 hours.

(7/20 1:05 p.m.) Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority says a hospital employee has tested positive for COVID-19. It is not believed that any patients at the hospital came into contact with the employee. This employee has not been at work since Thursday, July 16.  

An employee at the Cherokee County Clinic also tested positive for COVID-19. This employee has not been in the clinic since Tuesday, July 14. The clinic will undergo a thorough cleaning and be open for business Monday, July 20th, but patients may experience some delays due to reduced staffing.  No patients who attended the Cherokee County Clinic are felt to be at risk of COVID-19 infection at this time. All known community contacts will be notified and have any recommended testing scheduled.

(7/20 1 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 101,046 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,268 cases from the day before.  1,086 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 29 from the day before.  1,642 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 8 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, on July 20th there are 3,698 cases of COVID-19 with 106 deaths, an increase of 103 cases and 0 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(7/20 10:00 a.m.) - Supermarket chain Ingles says it will require customers to wear a face mask to enter stores starting tomorrow.  In a press release, the company says "cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow the virus."  The Black Mountain-based chain has more than 60 locations in Western North Carolina.  Previously, it instituted one-way aisles in stores to increase social distancing, and installed sneezeguards at all checkouts.  Any customer who uses a reusable bag must also bag their own groceries.

(7/19 1 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 99,778 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,820 cases from the day before.  1,115 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 39 from the day before.  1,634 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 5 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, on July 19th there are 3,595 cases of COVID-19 with 106 deaths, an increase of 110 cases and 2 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(7/18 1 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 97,958 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 2,481 cases from the day before.  1,154 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 26 from the day before.  1,629 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 23 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, on July 18th there are 3,485 cases of COVID-19 with 106 deaths, an increase of 153 cases and 2 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(7/17 1 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 95,477 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 2,231 cases from the day before.  1,180 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 46 from the day before.  1,606 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 18 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, on July 17th there are 3,332 cases of COVID-19 with 104 deaths, an increase of 118 cases and 0 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(7/17 10 a.m.) There is a COVID-19 outbreak at a Jackson County nursing facility. Five employees at the Skyland Care Center in Sylva have tested positive for COVID-19. Jackson County Department of Public Health says that all positive employees are following isolation orders.

 Skyland Care Center coordinated COVID-19 testing for all additional employees and residents on July 16 and the results are pending.

(7/16 1 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 93,246 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 2,160 cases from the day before.  1,134 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 8 from the day before.  1,588 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 9 from the day before.  

For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, on July 16th there are 3,214 cases of COVID-19 with 104 deaths, an increase of 142 cases and 0 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(7/15 5 p.m.) Ten residents have tested positive for COVID-19 in Cherokee County.  Five of the residents are tied to other reported cases; four are tied to travel to other states; and one has no known source of transmission, according to the Cherokee County Health Department. There are now 119 cases in the county, according to the local health department. NC DHHS currently shows 91 cases in the county.

(7/15 1 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 91,266 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,782 cases from the day before.  1,142 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 33 from the day before.  1,568 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 16 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, on July 15th there are 3,072 cases of COVID-19 with 105 deaths, an increase of 58 cases and 4 deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(7/15 11:30 p.m.) The town of Andrews has announced that the town hall will be closed until further notice. The executive order cites the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the town and Cherokee County as the reason for the closure. 

(7/15 10 a.m.) Two deaths related to COVID-19 have been announced by Jackson County Department of Public Health.

The health department says, the first individual was between the ages of 25-49 and the second was between the ages of 65-74. Both had underlying health conditions.  

This means there have been three deaths in the county related to COVID. As of 5 p.m. on Tuesday, there have been 218 COVID cases in the county, according to the health department.

(7/14 10 p.m.) Buncombe County’s COVID-19 death toll took an unexpected turn on Tuesday - the second one in two weeks.   State health officials determined the deaths of 10 nursing home residents that had recently been reclassified by the facility as non-COVID related – did in fact meet the case definition. A statement by the county health department notes the ten deaths, which had removed from the count earlier this month have now been returned, bringing Buncombe County’s number of COVID-19 deaths to 42.

(7/14 3 p.m.) School districts  in Western North Carolina are fine tuning their versions of  the  “Plan-B”  hybrid reopening strategy announced by governor Roy Cooper on Tuesday.  Preliminary plans released by   Asheville City and Buncombe County school districts are similar and  include rotating classroom schedules for most grades, with remote learning for seventh through 12th grade for  Asheville City, and ninth through 12th grade for Buncombe County students.  The Henderson County school board is meeting on July 20 to work out details of the district’s plan.  

(7/14 2 p.m.) Southwestern Community College will hold a drive-through commencement ceremony for spring and summer 2020 graduates on August 8 at the Jackson County campus. Graduates will be able to drive up to the Balsam Center for the ceremony. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, attendance will be limited to the passengers in the graduate’s vehicle.

   (7/14 1 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 89,484 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,956 cases from the day before.  1,109 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 59 from the day before.  1,552 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 4 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, on July 14th there are 3,014 cases of COVID-19 with 101 deaths, an increase of 98 cases and 10 deaths (which were later attributed to a reclassification of earlier deaths at a Buncombe County long-term care facility). For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

  (7/14 11:30 p.m.) Four Sylva businesses announced they were temporaitly closing this week: Ferrara’s Pizza and Pasta; Speedy’s Pizza,O’Malley’s Pub and Grill; and The Wine Bar and Cellar. All four have had employee's test positive for COVID-19. They will take this time to clean, quarantine and test additional employees. 

 (7/13 1 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 87,528 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,827 cases from the day before.  1,040 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 30 from the day before.  1,548 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 8 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, on July 13th there are 2,916 cases of COVID-19 with 91 deaths, an increase of 135 cases and 0 additional deaths from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.  

(7/12 1 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 85,701 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,908 cases from the day before.  1,070 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 23 from the day before.  1,503 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 3 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, on July 12th there are 2,781 cases of COVID-19 with 91 deaths, an increase of 188 cases and 1 additional death from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(7/11 1 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 83,793 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 2,462 cases from the day before.  1,093 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 47 from the day before.  1,503 have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 3 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, on July 11th there are 2,781 cases of COVID-19 with 91 deaths, an increase of 188 cases and 1 additional death from the day before. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

 (7/10 1 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 81,331 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,982 cases from the day before.  1,046 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 12 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on July 7nd, there are 2593 cases of COVID-19 with 90 deaths. That’s an increase of 72 cases and zero additional deaths. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here

(7/10 10 a.m.) Nine people have tested positive for COVID-19 at Norton Creek Farms in Franklin, according to Macon County Public Health. All of the farm workers who have potentially been exposed to these individuals have been contacted and will be tested for COVID-19.  On Thursday there were 321 positive cases of COVID-19 in Macon County. As of Wednesday, 76 percent of COVID-19 cases in the county were part of the Latinx community.

  (7/9 5 p.m.)"Lab confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County are rising at an alarming rate " said Buncombe County Medical Director Dr. Jennifer Mullendore.  Speaking at a community briefing on Thursday, Mullendore noted that the county had confirmed close to 100 new cases over the past few days.   Mullendore added that cases continue to rise among people under 50 and that the recent jump is the result of community spread.    Mission Health Chief Medical Officer  Dr. William Hathaway also spoke and confirmed that coronavirus hospitalizations have hit a peak at Mission, with  27 people in the hospital and eight patients in intensive care on ventilators, up from an average of 15-20 a day.    Click here for a link to Thursday's briefing. 

(7/9 1:30  p.m.) At 2 p.m. BPR will broadcast Governor Cooper and members of the Coronavirus Task Force briefing on COVID-19. View a live stream here: https://www.ncdps.gov/storm-update       In addition, Buncombe County will be providing a Community Update today at 2:00 pm via Facebook Live @Buncombegov. The Spanish version will be aired via Facebook Live @BCHHS

(7/9 1 p.m) North Carolina has reported 79,349 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 2,039 cases from the day before.  1,034 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 40 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on July 7nd, there are 2521 cases of COVID-19 with 90 deaths. That’s an increase of 101 cases and one additional death. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(7/9 9:30 a.m.) A resident at the Clay County Care Center in Hayvesville has tested positive for COVID-19. All residents and staff at the long term care facility are now being tested for COVID and the resident has been transferred to a local hospital, according to the Clay County Health Department. There have been 18 cases of COVID-19 in Clay County as of July 8.

(7/8 1 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 77,310 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,435 cases from the day before.  994 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 5 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on July 7nd, there are 2,420 cases of COVID-19 with 89 deaths. That’s an increase of 102 cases and no additional deaths. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(7/8 9 a.m.) Macon Valley Nursing Home in Franklin now has five positive cases of COVID-19. The outbreak was first announced that two employees tested positive on June 24. So far, four staff members and one resident have tested positive. The first resident and one additional staff member were announced in the evening on July 7.  All the residents and staff at Macon Valley are being routinely tested for COVID-19 at the direction of Macon County Public Health and Macon Valley’s leadership team. The two organizations say that they have been working together and have verified that the facility has all the necessary PPE, sanitizing, and monitoring supplies and guidance to minimize any spread of COVID-19.

(7/7 5 p.m.) Eleven employees at Mountaintop Golf & Lake in Cashiers have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Jackson County Department of Public Health.  All positive employees are following isolation orders; additional positive results are expected. The health department says that the investigation is ongoing.

(7/7 2 p.m.) The Jackson County Department of Public Health has identified a COVID-19 cluster at a local medical provider’s office. Five employees of Current Dermatology, which has locations in Sylva and Clyde, have tested positive for COVID-19. All additional employees have been tested and received negative results.  Both locations have been closed since June 26 and won’t reopen until July 13 to allow for cleaning and additional testing. All patients seen between June 15 and June 26, 2020 have been notified.

(7/7 1 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 75,875 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,346 cases from the day before.  989 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 3 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on July 6nd, there are 2,318 cases of COVID-19 with 89 deaths. That’s an increase of 52 cases and 1 death. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(7/7  11 a.m.)  Two WNC fairs have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At a  press briefing at the WNC Ag Center,  Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler announced the annual Mountain State Fair will not be held in 2020. The fair was scheduled to talk place Sept. 11 through 20 at the Ag Center in Fletcher. The 108th Cherokee Indian Fair has also been canceled due to the pandemic.  The event was scheduled for October at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds.  In a Facebook post, Richard Sneed, Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians said  that the choice was made to protect the safety of EBCI tribal citizens and guests noting it would have been “impossible” to safely host the fair. 

 (7/6 4 p.m.) North Carolina has reported 74,529 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,546 cases from the day before.  982 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 36 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on July 6nd, there are 2,266 cases of COVID-19 with 88 deaths. For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

 

(7/6 10:30 a.m.) Transylvania County Register of Deeds is closed today. On Sunday it was announced that employee of the office has tested positive for COVID-19.  The Transylvania County Public Health says people who visited the Register of Deeds office do not need to get tested but should monitor their symptoms. 

(7/6 10 a.m.) Haywood County Public Health announced on July 4 that another resident tested positive for COVID-19. The resident recently traveled out-of-state to Florida.  There are now 98 cases in the county, according to NC DHHS. 

(7/6  9:45 a.m.) Cherokee County Health Department has announced that no staff or residents tested positive for COVID-19 at Murphy Rehabilitation and Nursing. The health department announced that one resident at the facility tested positive for COVID-19 on June 24. 

The Cherokee County Health Department would like to take this opportunity to remind people that as businesses open and more people have close interactions, we encourage the use of face masks to control the spread.

There were 51 cases of COVID-19 in the county as of July 2 and 2 deaths, according to the local health department. 

(7/5) North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports a  daily increase of 1,329 lab confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the state total to 72,983.  There are 949 people hospitalized and 1,396 coronavirus related deaths.  For more information including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.     Click here for data from Georgia and other neighboring states and  here for more local informaiton and resources. 

(7/3 4 p.m. ) North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports a record daily increase of  2,099 lab confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the state total to 70, 241.  The number of people hospitalized also hit a new high of 951.  For more information including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  There have been more than 2,300 hundred confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, according to local health department websites.  Click here for data from Georgia and other neighboring states and  here for more local informaiton and resources. 

(7/2)  Buncombe county health officials are readjusting the county’s  COVID-19 death data after a long term care facility mistakenly reported coronavirus as the cause of death in 10 of its residents.  Interim public health director Dr. Jennifer Mullendore shared the news Thursday afternoon at a community briefing. Mullendore noted that COVID-19 had been confirmed in the 10 long term care residents, but that after a review, it was determined their deaths did not meet the case definition.  

(7/2 12:15 p.m.) -North Carolina has reported 68,142 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,629 cases from the day before.  912 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 11 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on July 2nd, there are 2,071 cases of COVID-19 with 96 deaths, with 1,998 cases and 95 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(7/1 3 p.m.) Governor Roy Cooper pushed back his self-imposed July 1 deadline for a statewide school reopening plan, saying state officials need more time to "get it right."  "My number one  priority is to open classroom doors, " said Cooper at Wednesday's coronavirus task force briefing.  "We encourage schools to keep planning with a focus on how teachers, students and other staff can best be protected."   The governor said there was no one event that triggered the delay.    Last month, the governor announced three potential plans for public schools that ranged from students in class with few restrictions to online learning that resembled the end of this school year.   Cooper said he expected to announce firm plans in the next few weeks. 

(7/1 2:30 p.m.) Over the weekend, Principal Chief Richard Sneed of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, announced the second death of a citizen in the tribe related to COVID-19. There are now 71 positive cases on the Qualla Boundary as of June 30.

(7/1 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on July 1st, North Carolina has reported 66,513 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,843 cases from the day before.  901 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 7 from the day before.  1,373 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 30 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on July 1st, there are 1,998 cases of COVID-19 with 95 deaths, with 1,940 cases and 95 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/30 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 30th, North Carolina has reported 64,670 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,186 cases from the day before.  908 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 65 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 30th, there are 1,940 cases of COVID-19 with 95 deaths, with 1,895 cases and 93 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/30 12 p.m.) The town of Murphy has lifted its the pedestrian curfew which was put in place on June 3 as demonstrations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement were happening across the country. A rally organized by local youth was held in Murphy in support of racial justice solidarity on June 4.

The town previously had a curfew in May to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The 8 p.m. curfew ended at 9 p.m. on June 29.

(6/29 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 29th, North Carolina has reported 63,484 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,342 cases from the day before.  843 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 47 from the day before.    For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 29th, there are 1,895 cases of COVID-19 with 93 deaths, with 1,827 cases and 93 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/28 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 28th, North Carolina has reported 62,142 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,785 cases from the day before.  890 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 2 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 28th, there are 1,827 cases of COVID-19 with 93 deaths, with 1,781 cases and 93 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/27 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 27th, North Carolina has reported 60,357 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,539 cases from the day before.  888 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 4 from the day before.   For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 27th, there are 1,781 cases of COVID-19 with 93 deaths, with 1,746 cases and 93 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/26 4:30 p.m.) Cherokee County Sheriff says that his officers will not enforce the statewide mask requirement.

This afternoon on WKRK Christian Radio in Murphy, Sheriff Derrick Palmer explained that it would “not just be impractical but impossible” to enforce masks being worn in the county. He says that he will uphold any businesses’ right to ask customers to wear masks while inside their place of business.

“We don’t want people going in and defying business owners and saying, ‘I’m going to shop there regardless and I’m not wearing my mask because the sheriff said I could.’ We don’t want that,” says Palmer, adding these individuals can be charged with trespassing. 

 Palmers says that wearing a mask is an individual choice but it’s probably “a good idea.”

“I’m very leery of when we come to things that say ‘You are required to do these and you will be punished criminally if you don’t.’ That’s where my heartburn is and where I get upset over these things,” says Palmer. 

Palmer described the legal enforcement of wearing a seatbelt in your car as another example of a law that should be a personal safety choice. 

Town police departments within the county will be able to interpret the executive order as well.

(6/26 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 26th, North Carolina has reported 58,818 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,005 cases from the day before.  892 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 1 from the day before.  1,297 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 13 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 26th, there are 1,746 cases of COVID-19 with 93 deaths, with 1,711 cases and 93 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/25 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 25th, North Carolina has reported 57,813 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,009 cases from the day before.  891 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 15 from the day before.  1,284 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 18 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 25th, there are 1,711 cases of COVID-19 with 93 deaths, with 1,677 cases and 93 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/24 10 a.m.)  Macon County Public Health has identified a COVID-19 outbreak in staff at Macon Valley Nursing Home in Franklin. Two staff at the nursing home have tested positive for COVID-19. Both are asymptomatic and are isolating at home.

At this time, no patients at Macon Valley or at any Macon County long-term care facility have tested positive for COVID-19.

All the residents and staff of Macon Valley Nursing Home are being tested for COVID-19 as a precaution. Macon County Public Health is also working to identify any contacts of the two individuals.

Macon Valley Nursing Home says that it has been screening all staff and visitors before they enter the nursing home. The long-term care facility also outlined the measures it has taken to secure PPE and hand sanitizer since March in a press release. The facility says it has built an isolation unit for use if any residents do become infected.  

Both employees will not return to work until they have two negative COVID-19 tests.

(6/24 3:30) Citing metrics that continue to rise instead of leveling off, Govenor Roy Cooper extended Phase 2 of his three-part pandemic response plan for at least three more weeks. He also issued a statewide mandate that begins 5 p.m. Friday requiring residents cover their faces in most situations where social distancing of at least six feet isn't possible. That includes customers and employees at retailers and restaurants along with workers in manufacturing, meat-processing, agricultural and other industries. People with medical conditions that would be worsened by masks don't have to wear them, and neither do children younger than 11.  Read Executive Order No. 147 that implements today’s announcement.  Read Frequently Asked Questions about today’s executive Order and mandatory face coverings.  Read NCDHHS guidance on face coverings.  

(6/24 3 p.m.) Today Mission Health announced that it is rolling back COVID-19 visitor restrictions. One adult per patient will be allowed to visit during the hours of 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at all hospitals. Additionally patients in pediatrics, NICU, laboring advocates, and end of life care – will be allowed to have 1 person remain overnight. All visitors will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and required to wear a mask.

This change does not apply to COVID-19 patients or patients awaiting COVID-19 test results. They will not be allowed to have visitors. 

 

(6/24 2 p.m.) Southwestern Community College officials confirmed on June 20 that a student tested positive for COVID-19.

It’s the first case involving a student or employee at the college. The student was last at the Jackson Campus on Monday, June 15. SCC officials are working with local health department officials to locate anyone who may have come into contact with the individual.

All employees and students determined to have come into contact with the student have been notified and urged to get tested. Relevant classes were canceled for Monday, June 22. Face-to-face classes were cancelled on May 26 but some classes which required in-person instruction restarted on June 1. 

SCC officials urge anyone who was at the college’s Jackson Campus on June 15, and is experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness to isolate and contact a healthcare provider immediately.

(6/24 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 24th, North Carolina has reported 56,174 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,631 cases from the day before.  906 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 9 from the day before.  1,266 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 15 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 24th, there are 1,677 cases of COVID-19 with 93 deaths, with 1,627 cases and 92 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

 

(6/23 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 23rd, North Carolina has reported 54,543 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 848 cases from the day before.  915 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 45 from the day before.  1,251 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 28 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 23rd, there are 1,637 cases of COVID-19 with 92 deaths, with 1,608 cases and 91 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/22 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 22nd, North Carolina has reported 53,605 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 804 cases from the day before.  870 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 25 from the day before.  1,223 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 3 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 22nd, there are 1,608 cases of COVID-19 with 91 deaths, with 1,603 cases and 91 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/22 11:45 a.m.) The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians reopened tribal offices on Monday (today). Many tribal operations have been closed because of COVID-19 precautions. Face masks will required for all tribal employees and those visiting tribal offices. Appointments are also required. The offices will be closed on Fridays. Offices will be open 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. on Monday through Thursday. 

(6/21 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 21st, North Carolina has reported 52,801 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,412 cases from the day before.  845 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 38 from the day before.  1,220 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 8 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 21st, there are 1,603 cases of COVID-19 with 91 deaths, with 1,578 cases and 91 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/20 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 20th, North Carolina has reported 51,389 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,549 cases from the day before.  883 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 12 from the day before.  1,212 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 15 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 20th, there are 1,578 cases of COVID-19 with 91 deaths, with 1,549 cases and 91 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/19 2:00 p.m.) - Buncombe County says it will reopen most of its public-facing offices on Monday June 29th.  The alternative means the county set up to allow residents to access services during the pandemic will continue to operate, and county officials urge people to use those when possible.  Face coverings must be worn in the offices that will reopen.  Those offices include -

  • Ag and Land Resources (Soil and Water/Coop. Ext) -  49 Mount Carmel Road, Suite 101
  • Air Quality - 52 Coxe Ave.
  • Budget, Communications, County Manager’s Office, Finance, HR, Internal Audit, Legal, Performance Management, Sustainability - 200 College St.
  • Permitting and Inspections - 30 Valley St. 
  • Planning & Development - 46 Valley St.
  • Register of Deeds (Vital Records department is already open to the public), 205 College St.
  • Strategic Partnerships - 35 Woodfin St.
  • Tax Assessor - 155 Hilliard Ave.

(6/19 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 19th, North Carolina has reported 49,840 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,652 cases from the day before.  871 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 14 from the day before.  1,197 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 22 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 19th, there are 1,549 cases of COVID-19 with 91 deaths, with 1,517 cases and 91 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/18 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 18th, North Carolina has reported 48,188 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,333 cases from the day before.  857 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 11 from the day before.  1,175 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 7 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 18th, there are 1,517 cases of COVID-19 with 91 deaths, with 1,483 cases and 91 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/18 10:30 a.m.) - Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina says it will extend expanded reimbursement policies put in place at the start of the pandemic for the rest of the year.  That means the largest health insurer will continue to cover telehealth visits the same as face-to-face appointments until the end of 2020.  “Blue Cross NC is committed to helping members get the quality, affordable care they need, when they need it,” said Rahul Rajkumar, chief medical officer at Blue Cross NC in a statement. “We strongly encourage members to seek virtual care whenever possible and are committed to continuing to respond to this crisis to best serve our members, support doctors, nurses and hospitals.” Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is a business sponsor of Blue Ridge Public Radio

(6/17 4:00 p.m.) - Western Carolina University has canceled several other large-scale annual events for this fall's semester due to the pandemic.  That includes the Homecoming parade through downtown Sylva, scheduled to take place during Homecoming weekend which is October 2-4 this year.  Also canceled are the New Student Convocation and the Valley Ballyho, two events that welcome students to campus.  The Freshman Run before the first home football game this year is also canceled.

(6/17 3:00 p.m.) - Western Carolina University will not hold its annual Mountain Heritage Day this fall due to the pandemic and fears of a second wave of COVID-19 cases this fall.  The campus celebration of Southern Appalachia culture has been held since 1974, and routinely draws crowds of about 15-thousand according to the school. "We have to put the community's well-being first. And we felt it was best to make an announcement as soon as possible, out of consideration to the many musicians, vendors, artisans and craftsmen, as well as our guests, who make Mountain Heritage Day a success, year after year," said Stacy MacGregor, event chair and the university's director of marketing and brand in a statement.

(6/17 2:00 p.m.) - The city of Asheville will not hold a fireworks display for the Fourth of July this year due to the pandemic.  Officials say that's due to the need for physical distancing.  A virtual event will be held instead with an online concert starting at 4 p.m. featuring eight local bands performing at venues such as The Orange Peel, Grey Eagle, Asheville Music Hall, and Isis Music Hall.   “While we would love to produce a downtown festival for our neighbors, we understand that the health and safety of our community is of the utmost importance,” said Meghan Rogers, Executive Director of the Asheville Downtown Association in a statement. “But we also understand how important it is to stay connected especially now, so we’re excited to bring this virtual concert to our community.”

(6/17) The annual Mountain Dance & Folk Festival, which has been held in Asheville  since in 1928 , will be online this year.  A statement on the Folk Heritage website says “In lieu of the annual gatherings of our loyal fans and performers, the Folk Heritage Committee is planning several streaming events to celebrate the 54th Shindig on the Green and the 93 Mountain Dance and Folk Festival.  The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic makes mass gatherings in person impossible so we will present some first-of-its kind variations on these traditional events.   Both broadcasts will be free to the public, find out more here.  

(6/17 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 17th, North Carolina has reported 46,855 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,002 cases from the day before.  846 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 17 from the day before.  1,168 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 14 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 17th, there are 1,483 cases of COVID-19 with 91 deaths, with 1,469 cases and 91 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/16 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 16th, North Carolina has reported 45,853 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 781 cases from the day before.  829 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 32 from the day before.  1,154 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 36 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 16th, there are 1,469 cases of COVID-19 with 91 deaths, with 1,445 cases and 90 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/15 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 15th, North Carolina has reported 45,102 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 983 cases from the day before.  797 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 1 from the day before.  1,118 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 9 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 15th, there are 1,445 cases of COVID-19 with 90 deaths, with 1,417 cases and 90 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/15 9 a.m.) Macon County now has over 200 cases of COVID-19. On Friday evening, Macon Public Health announced a cluster at a Franklin construction company as well as four cases at a construction company based in Gainsville, Georgia.

(6/14 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 14th, North Carolina has reported 44,119 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,443 cases from the day before.  798 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 25 from the day before.  1,109 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 5 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 14th, there are 1,417 cases of COVID-19 with 90 deaths, with 1,356 cases and 90 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/13 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 13th, North Carolina has reported 42,676 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,427 cases from the day before.  823 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 63 from the day before.  1,104 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 12 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 13th, there are 1,356 cases of COVID-19 with 90 deaths, with 1,317 cases and 90 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/12 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 12th, North Carolina has reported 41,249 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,310 cases from the day before.  760 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 52 from the day before.  1,092 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 28 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 12th, there are 1,317 cases of COVID-19 with 90 deaths, with 1,259 cases and 90 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/11 ) High School athletes in three Western North Carolina school districts have been given the green light to start summer practices.  Buncombe, Henderson and Asheville City schools announced plans to begin limited workouts.   This comes on the heels of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s announcement that it is lifting the dead period Monday,  June 15th.   All three school districts will follow a phased-in approach with regular screenings and masks among the protocols.  Buncombe county will allow athletes on campus beginning June 15,  Asheville City on the 16th and Henderson county on the 22nd.

(6/11 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 11th, North Carolina has reported 39,481 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,310 cases from the day before.  812 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 22 from the day before.  1,064 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 11 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 11th, there are 1,259 cases of COVID-19 with 90 deaths, with 1,226 cases and 90 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/11 11:30 a.m.) - The National Park Service is reopening picnic areas and public restrooms along the Blue Ridge Parkway that had been closed during the pandemic.  This Saturday June 13th, the Linville Falls, Craggy Gardens, and Mt. Pisgah picnic areas will all reopen, as will the public restrooms at the Folk Art Center, Graveyard Fields trailhead, and Waterrock Knob Visitor Center.

(6/10 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 10th, North Carolina has reported 38,171 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,011 cases from the day before.  780 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 6 from the day before.  1,053 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 24 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 10th, there are 1,226 cases of COVID-19 with 90 deaths, with 1,201 cases and 88 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/9 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 9th, North Carolina has reported 37,160 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 676 cases from the day before.  774 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 35 from the day before.  1,029 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 23 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 9th, there are 1,201 cases of COVID-19 with 88 deaths, with 1,173 cases and 88 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/8 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 8th, North Carolina has reported 36,484 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 938 cases from the day before.  739 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 42 from the day before.  1,006 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 10 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 8th, there are 1,173 cases of COVID-19 with 88 deaths, with 1,138 cases and 88 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/8 11 a.m.) The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have announced 43 cases including 5 new cases on June 8. Beginning March 1, there have been 2,850 tests administered.

(6/8 9 a.m.) 

Macon County Public Health announced 140 COVID-19 and 1,839 tests reported to the health department as of June 7.

 

Macon County Emergency Management will be hosting a targeted COVID-19 testing clinic in Highlands on Tuesday, June 9, for those who believe they may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus.

The clinic will be held at The Farm at Old Edwards Inn from 9am to 2pm, or until tests run out. Persons may get a COVID-19 test regardless of their ability to pay and do not need to schedule an appointment. The address is 332 Arnold Road in Highlands, NC 28741.

 

The Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation is also sponsoring two COVID-19 testing initiatives on the plateau.  The format will be drive-through, pre-scheduled appointments on the following dates:  June 6, in Cashiers and June 13, in Highlands.  Participants should call 828-506-6907 to initiate registration.

Clay County Health Department announced on June 1 that since it has  gone several weeks without a positive test or an active case we will be switching to a weekly notification, unless there is a positive case. There were 8 positive cases and 343 total residents tested as of the same date.

(6/7 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 7th, North Carolina has reported 35,546 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 921 cases from the day before.  696 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 12 from the day before.  996 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 4 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 7th, there are 1,138 cases of COVID-19 with 88 deaths, with 1,122 cases and 87 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/6 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 6th, North Carolina has reported 34,625 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,370 cases from the day before.  708 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 9 from the day before.  992 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 26 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 6th, there are 1,122 cases of COVID-19 with 87 deaths, with 1,085 cases and 84 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/5 5:00 p.m.) - Starting Monday, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will reopen its visitor centers, as well as certain campgrounds and the Anthony Creek Horse Camp.  All of have been closed since March due to the pandemic.  The Oconaluftee, Sugarlands, Cades Cove, and Clingman's Dome visitors center will open starting Monday, as will the Cades Cove and Smokemont campgrounds.  More information can be found here.

(6/5 1:00 p.m.) - The city of Asheville says businesses can request to use public sidewalks directly adjacent to their storefront for merchandise display and outdoor dining.  That's provided the sidewalk maintains six feet of clear space for pedestrian passageway.  Businesses can apply here.  Last month, the city began to allow businesses to use up to 50% of private parking lots, landscape areas, and walkways for similar purposes.

(6/5 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 5th, North Carolina has reported 33,255 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 2,478 cases from the day before.  717 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 58 from the day before.  966 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 6 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 5th, there are 1,085 cases of COVID-19 with 84 deaths, with 1,041 cases and 84 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/5 11:00 a.m.) - The city of Asheville will keep all of its public pools and Splasheville closed this summer due to COVID-19.  In a statement issued Friday morning, the city said "attempting to operate the pools this season would not be feasible logistically or most importantly from a safety standpoint." The closures include pools at Recreation Park, Malvern Hills Park, and Walton Street Park, as well as Splasheville in Pack Square.

(6/4 5 p.m.) Harris Regional Hospital  in Sylva has transitioned from a zero-visitor protocol to limited visitor restrictions as the hospital gradually resumes elective and non-urgent cases and services at its facilities. The decision was made as current projections continue to indicate a lower than expected volume of COVID-19 in the region.

(6/4 3:30 p.m.) The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have announced that it will not reopen tribal government on June 8 as planned.

An announcement states that because the continued closure of child care programs on the Qualla Boundary and positive COVID-19 tests of 3 local Headstart employees the government will not re-open until June 22. The Eastern Band announced this week that there is community spread on the boundary.

(6/4 3 p.m.) Macon County has identified that a Macon County employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee is isolating at home and doing well. Close contacts of the employee have been notified, tested, and are quarantined until they receive their results. The County Maintenance department has performed the necessary steps to disinfect the affected area.

The county has had a recent spike in cases after just 3 positive cases for 12 weeks. There are now over 100 cases in the county. Macon County Health department operated a free testing site today in Highlands at the Old Edwards Farm.  Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation is operating a testing site on Saturday June 6. Call 828-506-6907 to register.

(6/4 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 4th, North Carolina has reported 30,777 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,189 cases from the day before.  659 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 25 from the day before.  960 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 21 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 4th, there are 1,041 cases of COVID-19 with 84 deaths, with 1,011 cases and 82 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/4 9 a.m.) The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in Bryson City is reopening today. The railroad closed down and furloughed over 70 percent of its workers due to COVID-19. 

The train which runs 44 miles along the Nantahala Gorge to Nantahala Outdoors Center and back is operating at 50 percent capacity. 

“We understood that to be safe and being cautious that is what we had to do. We definitely realize that we are one of the main attractions in Bryson City so we didn’t want to endanger our community or the passengers," says Sarah Conley Pressley, marketing manager for the railroad. 

The train started operating in Dillsboro in 1988 and moved to Bryson City in 2004. 

According to the railroad, last year it hosted the largest number of passengers ever - about 200,000.  This year it is expected that there will be far fewer passengers because of coronavirus precautions. 

(6/3 12:15 p.m.) - As of 12:00 p.m. on June 3rd, North Carolina has reported 30,777 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 888 cases from the day before.  684 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 32 from the day before.  939 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 18 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 12:00 p.m. on June 3rd, there are 1,011 cases of COVID-19 with 82 deaths, with 986 cases and 81 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/2 4 p.m.) Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians officials have announced that there is community spread on the Qualla Boundary. This means that the new COVID-19 cases cannot be directly linked to a source, explains Cherokee Hospital CEO Casey Cooper:

“Each time we report on a positive case in the community we get flooded with questions. Community members want to know if they are safe and unfortunately now that we have community spread we can no longer trace the virus back to specific original cases," says Cooper. 

The Eastern Band has announced 5 new cases on Monday bringing their total COVID-19 case count up to 28.

The Qualla Boundary was closed to non-residents as part of COVID-19 restrictions but the Eastern Band began reopening in tandem with the North Carolina Governor’s office Phase 1 recommendations on May 8.  

(6/2 11:15 a.m.) - As of 11:00 a.m. on June 2nd, North Carolina has reported 29,889 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 626 cases from the day before.  716 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 66 from the day before.  921 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 23 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 11:00 a.m. on June 2nd, there are 986 cases of COVID-19 with 81 deaths, with 967 cases and 76 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(6/1 1:00 p.m.)  - Henderson County will offer a third free COVID-19 community testing site Tuesday June 2nd at East Henderson High School, located at located at 150 Eagle Pride Drive, East Flat Rock NC 28276.  It will operate from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Those who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings like long-term care facilities, persons who are at high risk of severe illness, health care workers, first responders, front-line and essential workers, and those with limited access to healthcare will receive highest priority for testing.  No one will be turned away based on whether they can pay, though those who do have insurance are asked to bring their insurance cards with them to help cover costs of testing.

(6/1 11:15 a.m.) - As of 11:00 a.m. on June 1st, North Carolina has reported 29,263 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 674 cases from the day before.  650 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 1 from the day before.  898 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 12 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 11:00 a.m. on June 1st, there are 967 cases of COVID-19 with 76 deaths, with 906 cases and 72 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(5/31 12:00 p.m.) - Buncombe County will operate three free COVID-19 community testing sites this week.  The schedule is as follows:

Tue June 2nd 1-4 p.m. Klondyke Apartments

Wed June 3rd 1-4 p.m. Pisgah View Apartments

Thu June 4th 1-4 p.m. Big Ivy/Barnardsville

Those showing symptoms of COVID-19 and their close contacts, people at high risk of severe illness, those apart of historically marginalized populations, health care workers, first responders, and front-line and essential workers will be tested.  County health officials remind residents they should use the Buncombe County COVID-19 Self-Checker before going to get tested.

(5/31 11:15 a.m.) - As of 11:00 a.m. on May 31st, North Carolina has reported 28,589 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 916 cases from the day before.  649 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 11 from the day before.  886 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 9 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 11:00 a.m. on May 31st, there are 906 cases of COVID-19 with 72 deaths, with 942 cases and 72 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(5/31 9:00 a.m.) - Starting tomorrow, Monday June 1st, the city of Asheville will resume charging for metered on-street parking.  City-owned garages will remain free, and monthly parking permit fees are still suspended.  The city suspended all parking fees at its facilities and meters on March 18th at the beginning of the pandemic when businesses began to close.  

(5/30 1:00 p.m.) - North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has issued an executive order preventing evictions from occurring in the state, while also extending a moratorium on utility shut-offs.  It lasts for at least three weeks.  A ruling from State Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley that prevented court cases -including for evictions - from taking place due to the pandemic expires on Monday.  Evictions could have started again on that date, at a time when hundreds of thousands in North Carolina are without work and paychecks due pandemic-related closures and layoffs.  "North Carolinians need relief to help make ends meet during the pandemic,” said Governor Cooper in a statement. “Extending housing and utility protections will mean more people can stay in their homes and stay safe as we all work to slow the spread of this virus.”  You can read the entire executive order here.

(5/30 11:15 a.m.) - As of 11:00 a.m. on May 30th, North Carolina has reported 27,673 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,185 cases from the day before.  638 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 42 from the day before.  877 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 18 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 11:00 a.m. on May 30th, there are 942 cases of COVID-19 with 72 deaths, with 861 cases and 72 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(5/29 4:00 p.m.) - Western Carolina University will start classes on campus as regularly scheduled August 17th, but the school will eliminate fall break to ensure students finish the semester by Thanksgiving.  The last day for in-person classes will be Friday November 20th.  Classes on November 23rd & 24th will be held online.  All final exams will be handled online.  “This schedule maximizes instructional time in the early fall and minimizes the opportunities for students, as well as faculty and staff, to travel away from campus on extended breaks. This strategy should reduce exposure to and spread of coronavirus,” Western Carolina chancellor Kelli Brown said in a statement Friday afternoon. 

(5/29 3 p.m.) Macon County reported just three positive cases of COVID-19 for 12 weeks.  Today , Macon County Public Health has announced 42 positive cases have been confirmed in the last 48 hours. This brings its case count up to 63.

Of the new cases, MCPH has identified a six-person cluster at Old Edwards Inn in Highlands, and a three-person* outbreak at Walmart of Franklin. Old Edwards Inn and Walmart are working with MCPH to ensure health and safety for both staff and customers, according to the health department.

“Based on the large amount of positives that we have received over the last week, we have determined that there is community spread in Macon County,” says Dr. Donald Dewhurst, MCPH Medical Director.

“We encourage everyone who is able to stay home, to do so. For those who still have to make essential trips, we remind you to practice the 3W’s: Wear, Wash, and Wait.”

* a previous verison of this story stated that there were five cases at Walmart. Macon County Public Health sent out a correction about this information at 4 p.m. 

(5/29 11:15 a.m.) - As of 11:00 a.m. on May 29th, North Carolina has reported 26,488 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,076 cases from the day before.  680 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 28 from the day before.  859 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 32 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 11:00 a.m. on May 29th, there are 861 cases of COVID-19 with 72 deaths, with 815 cases and 71 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(5/29 9 a.m.) Macon County Public Health has announced almost 30 new cases of COVID-19 in the county. The health department did not provide any additional information about the outbreak but is hosting a press conference at 2 pm in Franklin with more information. On Wednesday there were 21 cases of COVID-19 reported in the county. There are now 48 positive cases. 

Recently, the county has announced a number of new cases at an essential business and a local church.

 

(5/28 5 p.m.) The Eastern Band announced updated COVID-19 protection measures today including continued checkpoints at the Food Lion and a requirement that everyone at both casinos will be required to wear a mask.  People on the Qualla Boundary will no longer be asked to quarantine for 14 days after a trip and will no longer be required to wear a face covering in public.

(5/28 4:30 p.m.) Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Public Health announced today that two Swain County residents have tested positive for COVID-19. One is currently hospitalized and the other is isolated in their home.

Both residents attended community gatherings including Big Cove Baptist Church the week of May 18 and an event at the Cherokee Fair Grounds on May 17. Individuals who attended these events and would like to be tested can contact the Eastern Band’s COVID-19 hotline at (828) 497- 3743.

 

Drive-thru testing will be available on Friday, May 29th from 9:00am – 11:00am at the Drama Hill Testing Site for those who have been identified as direct contacts or attended any of the above gatherings.

As of May 28 at noon, there were 18 positive COVID-19 cases reported by the EBCI Public Health and Human Services Division.

 

(5/28 11:15 a.m.) - As of 11:00 a.m. on May 28th, North Carolina has reported 25,412 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 784 cases from the day before.  708 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 6 from the day before.  827 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 33 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 11:00 a.m. on May 28th, there are 815 cases of COVID-19 with 71 deaths, with 795 cases and 68 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(5/27 4:00 p.m.) -  The six employees at Mission Hospital in Asheville who tested of positive for COVID-19 last week work in a pulmonary unit.  The hospital's chief medical officer Dr. William Hathaway said 48 others who worked in the same area have been tested and do not have the virus, with seven other tests results still pending.  His comments came at a Wednesday afternoon press briefing.  Hathaway added the entire health system has eight COVID-19 patients in its facilities as of Wednesday afternoon.  He said while that number is higher than the average that they've treated daily during the pandemic, it is down from the peak of a dozen seen last week.  

(5/27 12:00 p.m.) - Henderson County will run another COVID-19 community testing site Thursday at East Henderson High School, located at 150 Eagle Pride Drive, East Flat Rock NC 28276.  It will operate from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Those who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings like long-term care facilities, persons who are at high risk of severe illness, health care workers, first responders, front-line and essential workers, and those with limited access to healthcare will receive highest priority for testing.  No one will be turned away based on whether they can pay, though those who do have insurance are asked to bring their insurance cards with them to help cover costs of testing.

(5/27 11:15 a.m.) - As of 11:00 a.m. on May 27th, North Carolina has reported 24,628 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 488 cases from the day before.  702 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 81 from the day before.  794 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 28 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 11:00 a.m. on May 27th, there are 795 cases of COVID-19 with 68 deaths, with 773 cases and 64 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(5/26 4 p.m.) The COVID-19 death rate jumped in Buncombe County  over the Memorial Day weekend, with almost all of the new deaths linked to one nursing home.   According to Tuesday's update from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, 13 deaths (all residents)  have been reported at Aston Park Health Care Center, where close to 100 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed among residents(37) and staff(61).   The state updates cases and deaths in congregate living facilities every Tuesday and Friday and on May 22, Aston Park reported four COVID-19 related deaths in residents. 

According to the May 26 udpate, Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community is reporting its first COVID-19 death.  Eight COVID-19 cases have been confirmed among residents(3) and staff(5). 

The update also shows three confirmed cases among residents and staff at Stonecreek Health and Rehabilitation  and two cases in staff at Carolina Pines at Asheville.  Buncombe County health officials are working with all four facilities and recently created a strike team to check in with all congregate living facilities in the county. 

(5/26 2:30 p.m.) Mission Health System has confirmed that ‘a small number of colleagues’ at Mission Hospital have tested positive for COVID-19. The hospital will not confirm exactly how many staff members have contracted the virus. 

 “Upon learning this, we immediately activated precautionary protocols, including isolation of the impacted colleagues at home and implementation of precautions to ensure the safety of our colleagues, patients and visitors," says Nancy Lindell, Mission Health spokesperson in an email. "We are in the process of testing impacted team members on the unit and conducting a deep clean in that space.”

 

The local health department is following up with any individuals who might have been in contact with the positive cases. All staff at the hospital have been required to wear masks since March.

(5/26 11:15 a.m.) - As of 11:00 a.m. on May 26th, North Carolina has reported 24,140 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 176 cases from the day before.  621 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 6 from the day before.  766 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 12 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 11:00 a.m. on May 26th, there are 773 cases of COVID-19 with 64 deaths, with 773 cases and 64 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(5/26 11 a.m.) The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, located in Bryson City has announced passenger train operations will reopen Thursday, June 4. First Class service will be suspended until August 1 and food service will be limited to pre-ordered box lunches only. The railroad says it will be following all health and safety guidelines, including requiring face coverings during the trip.

(5/25 1 p.m.) Over the weekend Macon County Public Health(MCPH) announced 10 new cases of COVID-19 in the county. Three of the cases were linked to the positive case of an essential employee at a local business, MCPH announced on Thursday. All of the employees at the essential business were tested following the announcement. 

“We cannot comment on the employment of any individual case, due to state regulations on patient privacy,” explains MCPH spokesperson Emily Ritter. “If there is an outbreak (more than 5 persons testing positive at one time), we can identify a location.” 

This was the situation with the Sunday announcement that seven members of Evangelical Ebenezer’s congregation in Franklin tested positive for COVID-19. All members of the congregation are aware of their exposure, and are currently being contacted for testing, according to MCPH. This brings the total number of cases in Macon County up to 16. 

 

(5/25 11:15 a.m.) - As of 11:00 a.m. on May 25th, North Carolina has reported 23,964 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 742 cases from the day before.  627 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 40 from the day before.  754 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 10 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 11:00 a.m. on May 25th, there are 773 cases of COVID-19 with 64 deaths, with 744 cases and 60 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(5/24 3:00 p.m.) - Henderson County will hold a COVID-19 community testing site on Tuesday afternoon from 12 to 4 at East Henderson High School at 150 Eagle Pride Drive, East Flat Rock NC 28726.  The site will be run in partnership with Blue Ridge Health.  Those who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings like long-term care facilities, persons who are at high risk of severe illness, health care workers, first responders, front-line and essential workers, and those with limited access to healthcare will receive highest priority for testing.  No one will be turned away based on whether they can pay, though those who do have insurance are asked to bring their insurance cards with them to help cover costs of testing.  Henderson County health officials believe they will run additional testing sites in the coming weeks.

(5/24 1:00 p.m.) - Buncombe County will hold three free COVID-19 community testing sites this week after rain forced the postponement of such operations last week.  The sites will operate from 1 to 4 p.m. - 

Tuesday May 26th: 52 Coxe Avenue Asheville NC 28801

Wednesday May 27th: Sandy Mush Community Center 19 School Road Leicester NC 28748

Thursday May 28th: Deaverview Apartments 275 Deaverview Road Asheville NC 28806

Those showing symptoms of COVID-19 and their close contacts, people at high risk of severe illness, those apart of historically marginalized populations, health care workers, first responders, and front-line and essential workers will be tested.  County health officials remind residents they should use the Buncombe County COVID-19 Self-Checker before going to get tested.

(5/24 11:15 a.m.) - As of 11:00 a.m. on May 24th, North Carolina has reported 23,222 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 497 cases from the day before.  587 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 2 from the day before.  744 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 7 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 11:00 a.m. on May 24th, there are 744 cases of COVID-19 with 60 deaths, with 728 cases and 56 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(5/23 12:00 p.m.) - Asheville City schools will hold 'motorcade' graduation ceremonies one week from today on Saturday May 30th for seniors at Asheville High School and SILSA.  Each graduate will be permitted one vehicle, and the graduate must be sitting in the passenger seat dressed in their cap and gown.  Vehicles will enter the school at the Victoria Road entrance and then travel on a marked route through campus.  Once the vehicle approaches the steps of the school, the graduate will get out, have their name announced over a loudspeaker, receive their diploma, and be able to take a picture with their principal.  Then they'll get back into their vehicle and then leave campus via the McDowell Street exit.  For social distancing reasons, the ceremony will be staggered throughout the day using graduates last names -

9:00-10:00 AM

Asheville High School students with last names that begin with A-D 

10:00 - 11:00 AM

Asheville High School students with last names that begin with E-H 

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Asheville High School students with last names that begin with J-N

  

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Asheville High School students with last names that begin with O-Z 

2:00 PM -3:00 PM

SILSA students with last names that begin with A-P 

3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

SILSA students with last names that begin with Q-Z 

(5/23 11:15 a.m.) - As of 11:00 a.m. on May 23rd, North Carolina has reported 22,725 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 1,107 cases from the day before.  589 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 31 from the day before.  737 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 9 from the day before.  For more information, including county-by-county and demographic breakdowns, click here.  In the 13 North Carolina counties in Blue Ridge Public Radio's listening area, as of 11:00 a.m. on May 23rd, there are 728 cases of COVID-19 with 56 deaths, with 710 cases and 55 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.