Coronavirus

Cheyenne Dancy

Two weekends ago, when music and theatrical performances everywhere began to topple like dominoes, Katie Jones, the artistic director of Asheville’s Magnetic Theatre, spoke with the cast and crew about to premiere the play “Traitor.”

“It was late Thursday night, and this particular group had been through their dress rehearsal,” Jones said. “They’ve done a whole production’s worth of work and I thought ‘OK, if we don’t do this production now, we’re never gonna get to do it.’”

Opening night was nearly a sellout. The next night, only half the people who purchased tickets in advance showed up. On Sunday morning, Jones canceled the two remaining weekends of “Traitor.”

Now, while artists everywhere are considering their options for presenting work and earning money online, those who produce staged theater face unique, daunting challenges.

 

Lilly Knoepp

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has officially banned outdoor patio dining in the state due to COVID-19. Some restaurants across the state were still offering takeout patio dining. 

On Thursday, Jeanette Evans, owner of the Mad Batter Kitchen in downtown Sylva, was setting up for takeout dining. Evans says that the Jackson County Health Department had come by to explain the ban for the kitchen and the Lazy Hiker Taproom, as well as provide some protocol for customers to safely eat takeout.

Lilly Knoepp

The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina(CFWNC) has announced an Emergency and Disaster Response Fund to help nonprofit’s addressing issues impacted by COVID-19, as well as, relief efforts across the 18-county region. 

Lilly Knoepp

(Update 3/20 )  

The Cherokee County Health Department is alerting residents of a potential exposure to COVID-19 in the Brasstown, NC area, after it was announced Wednesday that an individual  who tested positive for COVID-19 was isolating in the county. The health department has not confirmed that this is the same individual. 

The individual attended a Contra Dance at the John C. Campbell Folk School located in Brasstown, NC on Tuesday, March 10th, 2020. 

Evoke Emotion Photography


Melissa Hyman is a cellist and Ryan Furstenberg a guitarist, who write and record music as The Moon and You from their home in West Asheville. For the married couple and countless musicians here and everywhere, March 13 was their Black Friday.

“I was realizing we were gonna need to cancel everything,” Hyman said.

Lilly Knoepp

During this time of social distancing, Blue Ridge Public Radio wants to hear what you are thinking and feeling. The coronavirus (COVID-19) impacts so many different arenas from school and restaurant closures to local businesses and mental health.

How are you and your family members dealing with the virus? Let us know through an audio diary. Below you will find instructions on how to record a voice memo for the Blue Ridge Public Radio news team and some prompts on what to share with us.

Send your memos or questions to news@bpr.org.

courtesy of the artist


Blake Ellege is a musician and vocalist in Brevard who counts nine bands he performs in. He remembers getting a call last Thursday warning the Coronavirus could threaten some upcoming shows.

“I kid you not, literally, five minutes later, the same colleague notified me that two of my gigs that week had been canceled,” Ellege said.

Five hours later, another call—more canceled shows. An hour after that, one of Ellege’s side hustles—spending two months every spring as an Easter Bunny mascot at the Asheville Mall—was also gone.

“It was a matter of four days that I lost all of my income for March and April,” he said. “It’s amazing just to see so many musicians that I look up to who are losing work just like me, and I thought something needs to be done, something has to be done.”

Ellege dreamed up what he’s calling the Quarantine Concert Series. He has partnered with the video outlet I Am AVL and the Orange Peel to produce nightly concerts from local artists. These performances, hosted in the Orange Peel’s Pulp Lounge, are livestreamed through I AM AVL’s website and Facebook page, where audiences are encouraged to tip artists.

BPR News

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

Lilly Knoepp

On Monday, the first case of COVID-19 in Western North Carolina was confirmed in a patient that is isolating in Macon County after visiting Asheville.  

 

The Macon County Health Department cannot confirm the location of the patient who tested positive for COVID-19 because of privacy regulations. Spokesperson Emily Ritter explains: 

 

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Public schools in North Carolina will be closed for the next two weeks.  Here’s how systems in the westernmost part of the state are handling it: 

Courtesy of Harrah's Cherokee Casino

(Update 3/16) 

 

Due to the serious public health emergency created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos will be temporarily closed for a two week period effective at 6am, Wednesday, March 18, 2020, according to a press release. 

The release explains that during the closure, Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos will be paying two weeks of pay to all team members and benefits will not be interrupted.

There is no date for reopening at this time. 

 

Originally published 3/13: 

 

UPDATED: 4pm March 16

While the Coronavirus outbreak has compelled many artists, venues and arts organizations to postpone and cancel events, a handful are continuing—for now—with events as planned.

 

Here's a roundup of cancellations, followed by events moving forward. This is an ongoing and developing story, and BPR will update and revise this information as needed:

Asheville Symphony Orchestra

The COVID-19 outbreak has compelled the Asheville Symphony to cancel three public events over the coming weeks for the season.

The orchestra won’t reschedule a March 17 charity event an Asheville wine bar and concerts March 21 and April 4 at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium.

Masterworks Series concerts April 18 and 19 are still on the orchestra’s calendar.

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

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

Asheville’s Connect Beyond festival has been canceled, becoming the first major event in this city to succumb to the Covid-19 virus.

The third annual festival, which had been scheduled for the first weekend of April, brings together music, film and social consciousness into three days of performances, screenings and panel discussions. In a statement, festival founder Jessica Tomasin cited ongoing developments with COVID-19.

 

Photo courtesy of Western Carolina University

Western Carolina Chancellor Kelli Brown sent out a notice on Wednesday evening in alignment with a UNC system decision to move all students online and out of the classroom. 

 

WCU is extending its official spring break by an additional week until Monday, March 23. 

 

Find  COVID-19 resources and the latest case count  in North Carolina here and testing information here.

(3/28 3 p.m.) Henderson County health officials say a resident at Brian Center Health and Rehabilitation  in Hendersonville tested positive for COVID-19. The resident is currently undergoing isolation protocol at the center. 

US Dept of State

Employers, health providers, and school districts are teaming up to coordinate a contingency plan -- in the event that Coronavirus spreads to Buncombe County.

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

Lilly Knoepp

On Thursday, Buncombe County officals kicked off its new weekly meetings to update the public on Coronavirus(COVID-19).  

 

CDC

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

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

Lilly Knoepp

Macon County’s Local Disaster Preparedness Team met this morning to talk about where the county stands as the coronavirus, also known as  COVID-19, continues to be a threat to the country. Local hospital officials, law enforcement, public school and health department officials came together to coordinate plans to keep the community safe. 

 

Their main message: Right now, there are no coronavirus cases in North Carolina. 

 

cdc.gov

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

CREDIT CDC/DR. FRED MURPHY / WIKIPEDIA

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