Press Conference begins at 2-minute mark
Buncombe County continues to be proactive as it tracks the spread of COVID-19, commonly referred to as coronavirus. In a move to leverage state and federal funding and galvanize community resources, Buncombe County has declared an official state of emergency effective March 12 until further notice. Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Brownie Newman says the move achieves three important goals: makes Buncombe County eligible for state and federal funds correlated to coronavirus; sends a clear message to the community that this is a serious health concern; and that all municipalities in the County are working in a coordinated fashion. “I urge everyone to avoid public gatherings that are not essential,” said Newman. “We know that taking this step is one of the most effective things we can do to slow the spread.”
Emergency Operations Center
Declaring a local state of emergency also allows the County to open its emergency operations center (EOC). Emergency Services Director Taylor Jones said that means having representatives from the County, its six municipalities, school systems, Red Cross, and other stakeholders in one room. “One of the most important things a community can do is come together in a unified fashion and make decisions jointly,” noted Jones. The EOC will also allow the County to establish testing sites. “We are taking steps to strengthen community partnerships and protect the most vulnerable populations,” said Jones, noting there is an intentional effort to raise awareness at high-risk facilities like nursing homes.
Update on coronavirus in Buncombe County
As of March 12, 2:30 p.m., there are 14 presumptive positive cases of coronavirus and one CDC-confirmed case in North Carolina, according the County Health Director Dr. Jennifer Mullendore. There are no cases in Buncombe County, but several people in the County are under investigation. “We are working closely with the medical community in making sure people under investigation are being managed appropriately and there is no further risk of exposure,” said Dr. Mullendore. She also urged anyone with symptoms like fever, cough, and difficulty breathing to call your doctor for an assessment. If you don’t have a primary care provider, please contact an urgent care facility. Health care officials are stressing that you do not show up before calling.
This is an evolving situation and information is constantly changing. For more resources on prevention best practices and news updates, visit Buncombe Ready. You can find the Declaration of a Local State Emergency PDF below.