WNC COVID-19 'Phase 2' Updates

May 24, 2020

(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.