BPRCOVID19

Every Friday we check in with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban for a look at the week in COVID-19 headlines.  Rose is visiting family in New York is week, so we connected by cell phone (pardon the occasional static).

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban.  Among the topics of discussion this week:  Governor Roy Cooper's Phase-2 pause and mask mandate, the latest from the General Assembly -  including a bill addressing hospital patient visitation during the pandemic and a Medicaid package, plus a look at challenges dentists are facing as they work to re-open

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News Founding Editor Rose Hoban.  This week they discuss the latest COVID-19 metrics amid a swell of new cases and hospitalizations, factors around the disproportionate number of cases among Latino communities and the strike team tactic created by a WNC assisted living facility as it tackled an outbreak among residents and staff.

 

Buncombe County high school seniors will still graduate this weekend.  But it won’t be like they imagined. 

BPR News

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban about the week’s coronavirus headlines and emerging issues linked to the pandemic.  This week they discuss the increase in cases and hospitalizations during the first week of North Carolina’s  Phase-2 reopening,  the push by state lawmakers to reopen bars and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on state immunization rates.

Families In Fear At Stricken Nursing Home

May 29, 2020
Kathie Carnahan

Kathie Carnahan nursed her husband through two major surgeries, watched helplessly as dementia robbed the once vibrant attorney of the ability to speak, and made the gut-wrenching decision to place him in an Asheville nursing home.

WNC COVID-19 'Phase 2' Updates

May 24, 2020
CDC

(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

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban about the week’s coronavirus headlines and emerging issues linked to the pandemic.  This week they discuss the metrics amid the start of North Carolina’s  Phase-2 reopening and the many roles churches are playing in the coronavirus pandemic.

Buncombe County will require the wearing of face masks in most indoor public settings starting next week.  The decision comes as North Carolina enters 'Phase 2' of its reopening Friday afternoon after restrictive stay at home orders due to COVID-19.

Sales Tax Projections Impact Local Government Budgets

May 21, 2020

The Coronavirus Pandemic popped up just as local governments across the state were in the heart of budget season. That’s forced many to reassess plans that were made back in January. As cities and counties ponder budget cuts, they’ll look closely at the pandemic’s impact on sales tax revenue.

North Carolina will enter 'Phase 2' of its reopening on Friday.  But due to rising numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases, the state will do so in a more cautious manner.

$5M TDA Relief Bill For Small Businesses Helps Hotels, Too

May 20, 2020
Mark Barrett

When the Rev. Tami Forte Logan learned that the Buncombe County Tourist Development Authority and allies won legislative approval to offer $5 million to small businesses crushed by the pandemic, she didn’t join the chorus of congratulations.

MAHEC

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted some dentists to break into the new frontier of teledentistry – including  the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC).  BPR’s Helen Chickering caught up with a MAHEC dental resident as the program was just getting underway. 

The Coronavirus pandemic took hold right as one of Southern Appalachia’s most important cultural traditions annually takes place.  The pungent wild onions known as ramps are largely absent from people’s plates because they’re usually brought to the table by foragers – a group that is feeling the pinch of social distancing not in how they collect, but in how they sell.

(5/13 12 p.m.)

Buncombe County health officials are reporting the first confirmed COVID-19 cases in  long-term care facilities in the county. 


COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into the lives of high school seniors all over the U.S - including athletics, where many seniors have been left in limbo as they try to determine where and how to take the next step. That's certainly the case for one such high school senior in Asheville. 

Megan Cain

The COVID-19 pandemic arrived at the same time as an annual ritual - spring cleaning. That provides an opportunity for donations at a time when many community organizations desperately need them.  

Johns Hopkins University

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News Founding Editor Rose Hoban. This week they discuss what health officials are monitoring as the first wave of  stay-home restrictions are lifted, the complicated challenge of figuring out if somebody has recovered from COVID-19 and her thoughts about Nurse’s week amid coronavirus. 

MAHEC

What happens when a medical student and a dental resident harness 3D technology to help flatten the coronavirus curve in North Carolina?  BPR’s Helen Chickering reports.

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

Buncombe County has modified its local ‘stay home stay safe’ order so that it aligns with the new statewide order in North Carolina that allows many retail businesses to reopen Friday at 5 p.m.  

WNC COVID-19 'Phase 1' Updates

May 6, 2020

(5/22 12 p.m.) The town of Murphy in Cherokee County has announced that the town's pedestrian curfew has been lifted this week. This termination goes along with Governor Roy Cooper's announcement that the state is moving into Phase 2 at 5pm today. 

(5/22 11:15 a.m.) - As of 11:00 a.m. on May 22nd, North Carolina has reported 21,618 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 758 cases from the day before.   568 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 10 from the day before.  728 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 22nd, there are 710 cases of COVID-19 with 55 deaths, with 662 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.

(5/21 6 p.m.) The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have announced that today (on Friday May 22) they will enter also Phase 2 of reopening COVID-19 restrictions. Restaurants, salons, personal care, grooming and tattoo business on the Qualla Boundary will be able to open at 50% capacity.  Childcare and summer camps will be able to operate at 100% capacity. Here's the full order. 

(5/21 5 p.m.) Haywood County Public Health announced that seven more Haywood County residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.  These are the 33rd - 39th cases in the county. All are in isolation at home.

(5/21 4 p.m.) Macon County Public Health has announced two new positive cases of COVID-19. One of the new cases didn't caught the virus from any current cases in the county. The other is believed to have been in contact with another positive case and is an essential employee at a local business.  The health department says it is working with the business to test all of its employees because "due to the nature of their work, these essential employees are unable to perform social distancing measures to the degree necessary to prevent exposure to COVID-19."

At this time, the health department does not believe that the general public who may have been at the store need to be tested because they were more likely to have been wearing masks and practicing social distancing. 

(5/21 12:00 p.m.) - The Great Smoky Mountains National Park says several more roads and facilities will open by this Saturday.  That includes picnic areas in Big Creek, Cades Cove, and Chimney Tops, as well as public restrooms at visitor centers and Clingman's Dome, Cable Mill, and Newfound Gap.  Visitor centers themselves remain closed, as are all campgrounds.  Clingman's Dome opened this week with a visit by Second Lady Karen Pence.  The road to it remains closed to vehicles but is open for cyclists and pedestrians.  More information can be found here.

(5/21 11:15 a.m.) - As of 11:00 a.m. on May 21st, North Carolina has reported 20,860 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 738 cases from the day before.   578 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 24 from the day before.  716 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 11:00 a.m. on May 21st, there are 662 cases of COVID-19 with 55 deaths, with 624 cases and 54 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(5/21 9:00 a.m.) - Today's free COVID-19 community testing site for the Deaverview community in Asheville has been postponed due to the weather.  Buncombe County health officials say the will reschedule the event.

(5/20 11:15 a.m.) - As of 11:00 a.m. on May 20th, North Carolina has reported 20,122 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 422 cases from the day before.   554 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 31 from the day before.  702 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 11:00 a.m. on May 20th there are 624 cases of COVID-19 with 54 deaths, with 617 cases and 53 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(5/20 9:00 a.m.) - Today's free COVID-19 community testing site to be run at the Sandy Mush Community Center has been canceled because of the weather.  Buncombe County health officials say they will reschedule the event.

(5/19 4 p.m.) Graham County Sheriff Joseph Jones announced today that his office will not be enforcing the statewide order to keep restaurants closed beyond take-out orders. In a statement, Jones says that he hopes “the effort will allow some folks to recover as well as give citizens the opportunity to go eat inside while sitting with their family.” He says the statement has been distributed to local businesses and the county manager.  

“The sheriff is an elected official and as such, he can make determinations of how best to run his department," says Becky Garland, Graham County Manager.  "These are unprecedented times and I am sure that he did not make the decision without a lot of deliberation about what he deems is best for the citizens he has been charged to protect.”

(5/19 2:15 p.m.) - As of 2:00 p.m. on May 19th, North Carolina has reported 19,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 677 cases from the day before.   585 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 76 from the day before.  691 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 2:00 p.m. on May 19th there are 617 cases of COVID-19 with 53 deaths, with 598 cases and 48 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(5/19 9:00 a.m) - Today's community testing site to be held in the Pisgah View community in Asheville has been postponed due to rain.  Buncombe County health officials say they will reschedule it.  

(5/18 4:00 p.m.) - Buncombe County will run three more free COVID-19 community testing sites this week.  Each is scheduled to be held from 1 to 4 in the afternoon:

Tuesday - Pisgah View community:  1 Granada Street Asheville NC 28806 

Wednesday - Sandy Mush Community Center: 19 School Road Leicester NC 28748 

Thursday - Deaverview community : 275 Deaverview Road Asheville NC 28806

Interim county public health director Dr. Jennifer Mullendore said with rain in the forecast for each day this week, testing could be postponed.  At a Monday afternoon press briefing, Mullendore stated they’ll notify the public by 9 each morning whether the testing sites will take operate on the days they are scheduled.  Before going, residents are being urged to use Buncombe County's COVID-19 self-checker to see if they should be tested.

(5/18 12:00 p.m.) - Asheville police have issued a citation to a restaurant that reopened with in-person dining over the weekend in defiance of state and local stay at home orders.  Rise and Shine Café announced on its Facebook page that it was reopening with in-person dining, but has since taken down its page.  In its own Facebook post Monday morning, Asheville police said officers issued a warning on Sunday after witnessing people eating at the restaurant.  The current statewide order - which Buncombe County is following - mandates restaurants can only offer take out and delivery service during ‘Phase 1’ of the reopening of the state.  Police returned Monday morning and found Rise and Shine to be in violation again, and the citation was issued.  Police add more citations could be issued if the restaurant continues to allow in-person dining.  

(5/18 11:15 a.m.) - As of 11:00 a.m. on May 18th, North Carolina has reported 19,023 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 511 cases from the day before.   511 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 18 from the day before.  661 people have died from COVID-19 in the state, 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 11:00 a.m. on May 18th there are 598 cases of COVID-19 with 48 deaths, with 581 cases and 48 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(5/17 11:15 a.m.) - As of 11:00 a.m. on May 17th, North Carolina has reported 18,512 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 530 cases from the day before.   493 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 12 from the day before.  659 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 17th there are 581 cases of COVID-19 with 48 deaths, with 558 cases and 48 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

(5/16 11:15 a.m.) - As of 11:00 a.m. on May 16th, North Carolina has reported 17,982 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 853 cases from the day before.   481 people are currently hospitalized, a decrease of 11 from the day before.  652 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 11:00 a.m. on May 16th there are 558 cases of COVID-19 with 48 deaths, with 534 cases and 46 deaths reported the day before.  For information on cases in the state of Georgia, click here.  For more local information, click here.

North Carolina Governor's office

North Carolina will enter the first stage of reopening this Friday evening, as many businesses currently shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be allowed to open for the first time since March.

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

After weeks of being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will start a phased reopening this Saturday May 9th.

UNC School of Public Health

BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News Founding Editor Rose Hoban about the metrics state health officials are monitoring, the discussions by state lawmakers working on a COVID-19 relief bill and (below) the NC connection to the newly approved COVID-19 drug therapy.

Buncombe County

Buncombe county residents who think they may have symptoms of COVID-19 can get answers and connect to resources with a new online  Self -Checker .  The  digital tool was created by a COVID-19 think tank started by Emergency Preparedness Director Fletcher Tove with support from the Mountain Area Health Education Center.   The idea for the online resource came from a local climate scientist who also worked to develop and program the self-checker.  BPR’S Helen Chickering reports.

CASE COUNTS & STAY-AT-HOME ORDERS

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and his Coronavirus task force team hold regular press briefings on the latest regarding COVID-19 in North Carolina.  You can watch the latest briefing in English or with a Spanish translation here.

Republican congressional-candidate Lynda Bennett, who hopes to win the District 11 seat recently vacated by her political patron Mark Meadows, is calling for an immediate end to North Carolina’s stay-home order, calling pandemic restrictions an infringement “on our rights and freedom.”

Buncombe County will revise its ‘stay home stay safe’ declaration to further align with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s statewide stay at home order.  The new Buncombe County order goes into effect Friday morning May 1st at 6 a.m. 

HCA Healthcare

Mission Health says it will be taking down triage tents it placed outside of its hospitals, while also beginning to re-schedule procedures that had to be delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

Most of Western North Carolina is going through the COVID-19 pandemic without a member of Congress following the resignation of Mark Meadows on March 30th to become President Donald Trump's chief of staff.  That means the 11th Congressional District seat for North Carolina is vacant - and will remain that way for most if not all of the rest of 2020.

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