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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..

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.

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 

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

(3/30 6:30 p.m.) Jackson County issued a strict amendment to its state of emergency last week which set up a protocol for any out-of-state visitors to bring their own supplies to the county and be quarantined for 14-days upon arrival. Today, the county issued clarification of the law to explain that this does not apply to Jackson County residents who work out-of-state at jobs that are deemed “essential services” nor does it apply to people who work at essential jobs in Jackson County but live in other states. It is recommended that these people self-monitor and follow social distancing guidelines.

Courtesy of North Carolina Broadband Infrastructure Office

Reports say that Frontier Communications will declare bankruptcy this week. Here's what that could mean for Western North Carolina: 

Frontier is one of the largest broadband providers in the region. Beyond that Frontier provides telecom services across 29 states. That’s why news that the company might file for bankruptcy is turning a lot of heads. 

Wes King is director of communications for the North Carolina Broadband Infrastructure office. 

BPR News

While Presidential candidates have been grabbing most of the attention ahead of Tuesday’s primary in North Carolina, a number of organizations have been working to raise awareness about local candidates and issues.

A birthday celebration for the late legendary singer-songwriter and civil rights activist Nina Simone will be held this weekend in her hometown of Tryon.   The public is invited to celebrate and to share their ideas about the future of Simone’s birthplace.     BPR’s Helen Chickering reports.

BPR

Climate change is a complicated topic, especially when you start to unpack the impact on human health.   In this installment of BPR's Climate City series,  Helen Chickering  introduces us to two WNC researchers who are collaborating to tackle that challenge. 

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.

01/30/20 — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today released the final report on the public health investigation into an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in people who attended the 2019 NC Mountain State Fair at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center in Fletcher.   While there isn't a 'smoking gun', the report confirms earlier findings that  the outbreak was likely caused by exposure to Legionella bacteria in aerosolized water from hot tubs that were on display during the fair at the Ag Center in Fletcher.   

BPR News

Climate change is getting lots of attention on the 2020 campaign trail.   Among the popular slogans  -  "12 years to fix the climate".  It appears on signs and in speeches, but what does it really mean?   BPR’s Helen Chickering  met with the science editor  who worked on the report that launched the catch phrase.  

BPR News

Boston, Chicago, Houston and Austin will soon be a non-stop plane ride away from Asheville.  The budget airline Allegiant is adding the four cities to its service from the Asheville Regional airport

WNC Catholic Clergy Among Those 'Credibly Accused' Of Child Sexual Abuse

Dec 30, 2019
NICK DE LA CANAL / WFAE

The Catholic Diocese of Charlotte has named 14 former clergy members it considers "credibly accused" of sexually abusing children. The 14 clergy members all served in the diocese since 1972, when the diocese — which covers the western half of the state – formed.  The clergy members named on the list were removed from ministry years ago or died before allegations against them were made. 

December 15 is the enrollment deadline for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, which became law nearly ten years ago. BPR’s Helen Chickering checked in with Jackie Kiger at Pisgah Legal Services  to find out what people need to know as they navigate this year’s marketplace.  

BPR News

What do turkeys and hurricanes have in common?   Thanksgiving -   the holiday weekend  marks the end of the 2019 hurricane season. This year powerful slow moving storms like Dorian invigorated the conversation about the impact of climate change on hurricanes.  BPR’s Helen Chickering talked with a climate scientist based here in Asheville who has been tackling that question.

BPR News

The Department of Transportation picked the Asheville Regional Airport as the backdrop to announce major funding grants for airport hubs across the country – including a hefty sum for Asheville.  North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis(R-NC) was on hand as Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao made the grant announcement.

“The Asheville Regional Airport will receive 10 million dollars for terminal rehabilitation,” says Chao, “This makes Asheville one of 8 in the nation to receive 10 million or more in this round.”


BPR News

This week community advocates, education and business leaders from across the region are gathering in Asheville to tackle an issue that has connections to both climate change and hunger - food waste.   Some of the most creative and successful solutions are happening on college campuses.  BPR's Helen Chickering visited UNC Asheville where some small changes are making a big difference.

BPR News

In 1976, before climate change was really on the public radar, North Carolina created the State Climate Office.  Today, it is the second largest state climate office in the U.S. This summer, Kathie Dello took the helm and became the first woman to serve as North Carolina's state climatologist.  Dello was in Asheville this week and talked about her role with BPR’s Helen Chickering. 

Buncombe County Schools

Educators, mental health professionals, and law enforcement are gathering in Asheville this weekend to tackle what has been dubbed “an unaddressed public health crisis.”  BPR’s Helen Chickering talked with one of the conference organizers who is helping shine the spotlight on the issue here in Western North Carolina.

WNC Ag Center

 

Update:  10/18   NC health officials report a fourth person has died in the Legionnaires' outbreak linked to the Mountain State Fair in Fletcher.  No details about the patient have been released.  So far, 141 cases have been confirmed.

@ncstatefair

 

Update 10/16:  On the heels of the Legionnaires' outbreak linked to September's Mountain State Fair in Fletcher,  health officials are taking proactive measures as the N.C. State Fair in Raleigh prepares to open tomorrow.  BPR’s Helen Chickering reports.

Garret K. Woodward

Noted banjo picker and Western North Carolina native Raymond Fairchild has died, following a heart attack.  He was 80. Fairchild performed at the Grand Ole’ Opry on numerous occasions and was inducted into Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2015.  Last month, Fairchild appeared in BPR’s “Exploring Southern Appalachia” series.   

Fairchild’s final arrangements haven’t yet been announced.  In addition to his storied banjo career, he and his wife Shirley ran the Maggie Valley Opry for more than 30  years.                                                      

CDC

Update 10/10:  State health officials have confirmed a second death in the Legionnaires' outbreak  connected to September's  Mountain State Fair in Fletcher.   Eighty-eight people have been hospitalized.

allbacteria.com

Update:  10/10

State health officials have confirmed a second death in the Legionnaires' outbreak  connected to the Mountain State Fair in September.   Eighty-eight people have been hospitalized. 

Petrey Family

 

  Update: 10/9 State Health officials say there are now more than 130 confirmed cases of Legionnaires' disease tied to last month's Mountain State Fair in Fletcher. The family of a man who allegedly contracted the respiratory illness after attending the event spoke publicly on Wednesday.   Blue Ridge Public Radio's Helen Chickering reports.

rti.org

Child care centers in North Carolina are now required to test for lead in their tap water.  The Commission for Public Health, the public health rulemaking body for North Carolina, has adopted a rule requiring the testing after a study of 86 centers in Central North Carolina found one in six had at least one tap with elevated lead levels.

WNC Ag Center

10/3 Update:  4 p.m.

State Health officials have released preliminary findings of their investigation into the source of the Legionnaires' outbreak at the Mountain State Fair in Fletcher, September 6-15. 128 cases of the severe lung infection have now been confirmed. One person has died. State Epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore told reporters during a phone conference that fairgoers who were diagnosed were much more likely to report being in the Davis Event Center - an indoor facility.

"The second thing that has come out of the data so far is that people who were diagnosed were much more likely to be walking by hot tub displays when in the Davis Event Center, " says Dr. Moore, "Then a third finding we think is relevant is that people who developed Legionnaires disease attended fair in latter half of fair compared to people who didn’t get sick."

BPR News

An Asheville business program created to support women and communities of color who want to do business with the city  just got a makeover.  BPR’s Helen Chickering has details.

North Carolina is stepping up efforts to combat e-cigarette addiction.  BPR’s Helen Chickering has details.

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