Lilly Knoepp

Dogwood Health Trust has committed to spending $10 million to fight COVID-19 in Western North Carolina.  

In a Zoom call on Wednesday afternoon, Dogwood Health Trust CEO Antony Chiang explained that the foundation, which was created after the $1.5 billion dollar sale of Mission Health to HCA Healthcare, is working with local partners across the region to address the COVID-19 epidemic.  

Chiang says that the foundation is focusing on three areas: flattening the curve, preparing the region and mitigating negative impacts from the virus.   

Cass Herrington / BPR News

The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office is taking extra steps to protect officers out on patrol and inside the detention center from contracting COVID-19 on the job. 

Creative Commons

Grocery store chains are making sweeping changes to operating hours and store policies to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

BPR News

While much of BPR's coronavirus coverage is dedicated to updates from health and government officials, we are working to reach out to the community - including local restaurants.  On Tuesday March 17, Governor Roy Cooper issued an Executive order closing sit-down Service at restaurants and bars across the state– which forced many to close.  But some have been working to stay open including a sandwich shop down the street from the Blue Ridge Public Radio.  BPR's  Helen Chickering has been checking in..

Laid-Off Bar And Restaurant Workers Band Together

Mar 23, 2020
Cory Vaillancourt

While the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on American society are readily apparent, there’s often a hidden side with a human toll.


As restaurants shutter their dining rooms, a few local chefs and business owners are devising new ways to support laid off line cooks, servers, and kitchen staff. 

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.

wonderingcleric / Creative Commons

Small-scale producers who rely on weekly farmers markets for income have found themselves at a sudden loss. 

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. 

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

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: 

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 

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. 

Lilly Knoepp

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



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.

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


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.