WNC

Three WNC hospitals are on the list to receive the first COVID-19 vaccine shipments.  Earlier this week, North Carolina health officials announced that Pardee Hospital in Hendersonville would be among the 11 “early ship sites” that would hold the vaccine in cold storage during the approval process, which is expected to continue this weekend with the meeting of the Center for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.  

Courtesy of Ben Guiney

Jackson County is one of six jurisdictions in Western North Carolina now considered to have ‘critical’ community spread of coronavirus, the highest such classification from the state.  BPR talked to a doctor who was recently in quarantine with COVID-19:

Dr. Ben Guiney tested positive for COVID-19 on November 28th.  He’s not sure if he got COVID working at Harris Regional Hospital or not. During his isolation, Guiney was separated from his family by his bedroom door.

Nate Hadley/WCJ

More than 1 million North Carolinians have voted during the first five days of early voting in the state.  That’s more than 14 percent of all registered voters in the state.

BPR checked in on the early voting site on campus of Western Carolina University in Cullowhee:

Pixabay

Governor Cooper announced September 17 that children in kindergarten through 5th grade can attend in-person classes starting October 5.  However, learning still looks different for every county and school district in Blue Ridge Public Radio’s listening area. Here is the breakdown of all 15 school districts:

ASHEVILLE

Jessi Stone/Smoky Mountain News

The Dogwood Health Trust Board of Directors has announced that Antony Chiang is stepping down from his role as Chief Executive Officer. 

Chiang started his role at Dogwood Health Trust in November 2019 after moving to the region from  his role as president of Empire Health Foundation in Washington state

Blue Ridge Public Radio

Voice memos are a great way to share your thoughts and concerns with your community. Think of it as sending a voicemail to Blue Ridge Public Radio that can then be played as part of a special segment or a story. Hearing your stories, comments and questions inspires us and helps the radio station succeed in its mission of amplifying the voices of our Western North Carolina community. 

Here's a simple guide to recording and sending in your voice memo. You can send the memo to news@bpr.org. 

How To Record A Voice Memo

The number of lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in North Carolina is hovering close to 100,000 with 1,820 new cases reported on Sunday.  Hospitalizations declined over the weekend but remained over 1,000.  The continued rise in new cases and hospitalizations prompted Governor Roy Cooper to extend Phase-2 of his reopening plan for another 3 weeks.  The governor also announced plans for K-12 schools this fall.  

Every Friday,  BPR’s Helen Chickering checks in with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban and this week – there was lots to talk about.

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).

BPR

Scaffolding is going up around the Vance Monument as the city prepares to shroud the 75-foot obelisk in Pack Square in downtown Asheville.   

Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a broad health measure late Monday because it contains a provision that addresses the confidentiality of death investigation records. Opposition to the item has served as a rallying cry for demonstrators for racial justice outside the Executive Mansion for days.

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

Lilly Knoepp / Blue Ridge Public Radio

Protests in the rural towns of Western North Carolina for racial justice are growing into a movement.

 Molly Haithcock, 24 and Erykah Lasha, 22, didn’t know each other until a few weeks ago even though both went to Franklin High School. Haithcock, who identifies as a black woman, says she was sickened by the killing of George Floyd and wanted to do something - anything: 

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.

Abby Bishop

Across the country, counties expect to have to tighten their budgets this year because of the COVID-19 health crisis.  

The National Association of Counties estimates that by 2021 counties will have lost $144 billion dollars.  This is due to the compounded impact of funding spent fighting COVID-19 and losses in revenue such as local sales taxes.  

This is the case in Transylvania County, explains County Commissioner Page Lemmel. She says the county budget will look very different this year: 

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. 

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.

MAHEC

Find the latest COVID-19 updates & info here   Along with restaurants, hotels, and many small businesses – physician practices across Western North Carolina are feeling the financial crunch from the coronavirus.  A  MAHEC  survey of 100 primary care practices finds many are being hit hard by both the shortage of  supplies  - and patients.  

April 1 brings another COVID-19 concern – rent is due.  With restrictions shuttering businesses and putting thousands out of work across Western North Carolina, non-profit organizations that provide housing  and other support services are seeing an increase in calls from residents concerned about rent and mortgage payments.

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.

(4/9 4:30 p.m.)  The number of customers permitted in retail and grocery stores will be limited to ensure social distancing starting Monday at 5 p.m. under a new executive order issued by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.  

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

Pages