Coronavirus

On the heels of  Monday’s FDA approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people 16 and older,  Pardee UNC Health Care  in Hendersonville updated its policy,  announcing  all employees will be required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.  A statement by Pardee says the new mandate gives employees until November 12 to comply or submit their request for a medical or religious exemption.   Previously, the hospital encouraged, but didn’t mandate the vaccination.

Asheville City Schools

 

BPR is answering listener queries about the Coronavirus in a new segment –Talk to Us: COVID Questions.  BPR’s Helen Chickering talks with a local expert about some of the concerns parents and caregivers may have about the COVID-19 vaccine and children. 

ncdhhs

COVID-19 cases in North Carolina continue a “rolling simmer” with the 7-day average of new confirmed cases now hovering around 2,000.  At least 1,096 people are hospitalized, up from 1,064 from Friday. Meantime, state and local health officials are grappling with how to keep up  vaccine enthusiasm – just a few of the topics BPR’s Helen Chickering and NC Health News editor Rose Hoban tackle in their weekly coronavirus check-in.  

cdc.gov

BPR is answering listener queries about the Coronavirus in a new segment –Talk to Us: COVID Questions.  BPR’s Helen Chickering brings us this week’s answer.   This week's question comes from Beth Baxley of Macon County. Her question came in just before Federal officials hit the pause button on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

cdc.gov

BPR is answering listener queries about the Coronavirus in a new segment –Talk to Us: COVID Questions.  BPR’s Helen Chickering brings us this week’s answer.   

This week's question comes from Dr. Penny Brewster  of Franklin.

Pardee UNC Health Care

North Carolina now is now under a new – less restrictive -  pandemic executive order, an updated COVID vaccine schedule. And somewhere in-between in all – Governor Roy Cooper revealed announced his budget plan with a renewed push for Medicaid expansion. It is a good time for our check-in with North Carolina Health News editor, Rose Hoban.

WCU.edu

BPR is answering listener queries about the Coronavirus in a new segment –Talk to Us: COVID Questions.  BPR’s Helen Chickering brings us this week’s answer.   This week's question comes from Bob Evans of Buncombe County.

Lilly Knoepp

BPR is answering listener queries about the Coronavirus in a new segment "Talk To Us: COVID Questions" BPR’s Lilly Knoepp brings us this week’s answer.

This week, Niyaso Cannizzaro of Buncombe County submitted this question: “When will at-risk individuals under the age of 65 be able to get the vaccine?”

To get an answer, we asked Melissa McKnight, deputy health director with Jackson County Public Health:

“So if you have a high-risk individual but they aren’t yet 65. They are likely to be assigned to group 4,” said McKnight.

Courtesy of Haywood Health and Human Services

Local health departments across Western North Carolina are depending on volunteers to help them with the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

BPR talked with a former public health director who came out of retirement to help administer the vaccine.

Patrick Johnson retired as the public health director for Haywood County’s Health and Human Services Department last fall, after working in public health for 36 years.

“When I decided to retire, they talked me out of it once,” said Johnson. He’s 66 years old.

Melissa McKnight/Jackson Public Health

Rural counties in Western North Carolina are vaccinating first responders.  BPR went to a mass COVID-19 vaccination in Jackson County.

A cold wind blows outside the Jackson County Recreation Center in Cullowhee. But it hasn’t stopped officers, firefighters and first responders from lining up to receive their COVID-19 vaccines.

“There’s actually been a good turn out. It was actually real smooth once we got in line.”  

That’s Kent Davis, a deputy with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.  He’s worked in law enforcement for more than 35 years.

Macon Public Health

In order to meet the demand for vaccinating residents, Macon County is cutting back on contact tracing.

On Monday, Macon County Public Health department announced it would no longer issue press releases about COVID-19 clusters in order to move three nurses from contract tracing duties to COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.

“If you could double my staff then I could vaccinate all week long and test all week long.”

Lilly Knoepp

The pandemic has hit non-profits and museums hard due to travel and social distancing restrictions.   One museum in our region appears naturally poised to weather the pandemic.

The War Woman cabin on the property of the Foxfire Museum and Heritage Center is decorated for Christmas. It was built in the late 1880’s but is now styled as a 1940’s Appalachian cabin with a woodstove and a vintage radio that clicks on when you enter the room:

“Where the blue of the night… meets the gold of the day,” plays the radio.

Vaccinations are rolling out across Western North Carolina. Mission Health is the latest to start  administering the COVID vaccine to at risk health care workers.  The system received just under 3,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.  Pardee Hospital in Hendersonville started giving the shots on Tuesday (12/15)and  Cherokee Indian Hospital – on Wednesday.   The shots arrived as the state continued to see record case numbers and hospitalizations. BPR’s Helen Chickering checks in on the metrics and vaccines with North Carolina with NC Health News editor Rose Hoban. 

Photo courtesy of New Kituwah Academy

Long before the world had ever heard of COVID-19, the Cherokee language was in trouble.

Last year, the three tribes in the U.S. declared a state of emergency because there are now so few fluent speakers.  That includes the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians in Western North Carolina.  Here’s how the pandemic has impacted the teaching of the language:

The New Kituwah Academy started in 2004 to teach a new generation of fluent Cherokee speakers. Like other schools, the pandemic caused educators to go to virtual instruction.

A primary care provider who practices in Fletcher became the first COVID-19 vaccine recipient in Western North Carolina.  “That felt great,”  said  Dr. Chona Reguyal about getting the first shot Tuesday morning.

North Carolina broke another coronavirus daily case record on Sunday,  as more people get tested before Thanksgiving.    Gov. Roy Cooper will hold a coronavirus task force press briefing Monday afternoon.(11/23).  BPR’s Helen Chickering checks in with North Carolina Health News editor Rose Hoban about the metrics, concerns about hospital staffing and a look at how some nursing homes in North Carolina are keeping the virus at bay.

 North Carolina coronavirus cases dipped a bit on Monday after a week of steady increases including a record high of more than 3,000 on Friday.  Hospitalizations also hit a new high last week.  BPR’s Helen Chickering checks in with NC Health News Editor Rose Hoban  - with a close look at questions around one of the most common COVID tests. 

Photo credit: Amanda Mills/CD

North Carolina coronavirus cases dipped a bit on Monday after a week of steady increases including a record high of more than 2,900 on Friday.  State officials say they’re watching the trends closely  as we head into the holidays.   BPR’s Helen Chickering checks in with  NC Health News Editor Rose Hoban the risk that comes with being cooped up during cooler weather and a look at some new health trends emerging from the pandemic.  

North Carolina remains paused in Phase 3 of the governor’s coronavirus reopening plan as the state’s case numbers continue to climb.    BPR’s Helen Chickering checks in with  NC Health News Editor Rose Hoban about the trends and the state’s plan to distribute coronavirus vaccines.   Check out NC Health News Voter Guide on Health here.

Courtesy of Principal Chief Richard Sneed

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases. 

A comedian performs in a back yard under string lights before a small crowd.
Photo Courtesy Melissa Hahn

Melissa Hahn had found a way to make it in comedy—not with her own punchlines, but by presenting funny people five to seven nights a week, at assorted Asheville venues, through her company Modelface Comedy

“In February, I did the biggest show of my career. I got to produce a live comedy special for Bobcat Goldthwait at the Mothlight,” she recalled. “And then a month later, the world stops.” 

iStock

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban.  This week, on the heels of the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis,  they take a brief look back in history at other presidents who have fallen ill while in office, and forward as North Carolina moves forward into Phase-3 of the governor’s coronavirus reopening plan.

Photo courtesy of TWASA

The struggle to get the most updated information on the spread of COVID-19 in a community has been crucial for local and national government decision-making. Here’s the unlikely source of data for a Jackson County project that hopes to increase the speed of information.

COVID-19 testing delays and asymptomatic carriers have contributed to a slower understanding of how many people in a community have the virus.

“Our goal here is to really give public health officials an early warning for what’s happening in the community.”

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban.  This week they discuss the latest COVID-19 metrics,  what might be on the list as the governor lifts more restrictions in his coronavirus reopening plans and a newly released federal report that spotlights deficiencies in nursing homes across the state, which have been coronavirus hot-spots.

Lilly Knoepp

Graham County started off COVID-19 by shuttering its borders.  Months later, the county is experiencing an outbreak at a nursing home.

Graham County didn’t experience COVID-19 community spread until August unlike many surrounding counties which spiked much earlier.

“Graham County for their flu season typically runs about 6 weeks behind the state.”

That’s Beth Booth, director of Graham County Health Department.

https://covidprisonproject.com/

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban.  This week they discuss White House Coronavirus Task Force visit to North Carolina as the state’s COVID rate “simmers”, the continued rise in cases among inmates, and the criticism that the state has not done enough to help release more eligible people from prison early to help reduce the spread of the virus.  

Lilly Knoepp

COVID-19 cases in Western North Carolina have stabilized says Dr. Mark Jaban, medical director of Haywood County Health and Human Services.

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban.  This week they discuss North Carolina’s move to Phase 2.5 of the governor’s reopening plan, what happened behind the scenes as lawmakers hammered out the remainder of the federal coronavirus relief package, and why some researchers are revisiting the question about conducting research in prisons.  

Tom Snow

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban. This week they discuss the public health mentions  in Governor Roy's Coopers budget proposal, CDC's updated coronavirus testing guidelines and  - river otters.  They sure are cute, but what do they have to do with our health?

dailytarheel.com

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban.  This week they discuss the quick- switch to all online-learning by two universities in the UNC system, the complicated challenge of communicating public health messages during a pandemic along with a check-in with primary care practices. 

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