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COVID-19 Update

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases Weekly Community Update

Click here for the Spanish version.

The next Community Update will be on Buncombe County Government’s Facebook BuncombeGov page via Facebook Live on Thursday, July 9, 2020, at 2 p.m. Simultaneous Spanish interpretation will be available on the Buncombe Health and Human Services Facebook page.

Key Takeaways for July 9, 2020

Updated Case Count for July 9, 2020

777 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in BC residents

From Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller

  • COVID-19 is a serious public health issue
  • Wearing a mask is an essential part of keeping people safe from COVID-19
  • Wearing a mask is required to do business at any Buncombe County facility. 
  • Private businesses also have the right to require that patrons wear a face covering
  • If an individual fails to comply after being asked by the business to put on a mask they can be asked to leave and must comply or face being charged with trespassing by the Sheriff’s Office 
  • The goal of law enforcement is to educate and inform 
  • The Sheriff’s Office will engage in discussion with businesses prior to issuing citations
  • However, the Sheriff’s Office will issue citations if need be
  • We are hopeful that by taking this approach we can get voluntary compliance
  •  

From BC Interim Public Health Director Dr. Jennifer Mullendore

  • Lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County are rising at an alarming rate
  • Yesterday, we received nearly 50 new positive lab results and so far today, another 42
  • Almost all of these cases are in individuals who do not live or work in long-term care facilities
  • Our Communicable Disease nurses continue to work long and hard to reach out to each of those individuals to provide guidance on isolation and to determine their close contacts in an effort to prevent further spread of the virus
  • As a result of the significant influx of cases and the way data must be manually entered to populate our county COVID-19 dashboard, there will be a fairly big lag in the case count shown there
  • As of noon today, there have been 777 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • 32 of these individuals have died as a result of their infection, including 27 residents of 4 local long-term care facilities
  • We continue to see a greater percentage of lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in people between the ages of 18-49
  • Yesterday, the county was informed of a new COVID-19 outbreak in another long-term care facility in the county.
  • A COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility is defined as 2 or more laboratory-confirmed cases.
  • There have now been outbreaks at 9 long-term care facilities in Buncombe County
  • Public health considers a long-term care facility COVID-19 outbreak over when it has been 28 days with no evidence of continued spread of COVID-19 within the facility
  • Two facilities have had their outbreaks come to an end, so we are now at 7 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities in the county
  • More details on these outbreaks will be available on the state’s COVID website on Friday July 10, 2020 by 4 p.m.
  • Buncombe County Public Health is aware of over 18,400 COVID-19 tests that have been performed on BC residents and staff who work in BC LTCFs in Buncombe County
  • Looking at the percent of tests that are positive tells us whether lab-confirmed cases are increasing in comparison to the number of tests performed
  • In NC as a whole, 9% of COVID-19 tests performed are coming back positive, this percentage has been stable for the past several weeks.
  • In Buncombe County, since last week, we have seen a greater percentage of tests come back positive for COVID-19,  indicating we are seeing more spread of the infection in our community
  • Last week, 2% of COVID tests on county residents came back positive for COVID, but now we are seeing 4% of tests come back positive
  • If you meet any of the following criteria, we are recommending that you get tested for COVID-19:
    • Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19
    • Symptoms include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, congestion, runny nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
    • Close contacts of known positive cases, whether or not you have symptoms
    • People in the following groups who believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19, whether or not you have symptoms:
    • Persons who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings (e.g., long-term care facility, homeless shelter, correctional facility, migrant farmworker camp)
    • Persons who are at high risk of severe illness (e.g., people over 65 years of age, people of any age with underlying health conditions)
    • Persons from historically marginalized populations (meaning Black and Indigenous People and People of Color)
    • Health care workers or first responders (e.g. EMS, law enforcement, fire department, military)
    • Front-line and essential workers (grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, child care workers, construction workers, food processing plant workers, etc.) in settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain
    • People who attended mass gatherings of any type, particularly if they were in crowds or other situations where they couldn’t practice effective social distancing
  • If your healthcare provider does not offer testing, contact one of the local urgent cares or clinics offering testing.
  • The state website has a “Find My Testing Place” resource with up-to-date information about testing locations in NC
  • Buncombe County Government and Western North Carolina Community Health Services (WNCCHS) will continue to offer COVID-19 testing at community-based sites throughout the County over the next 8 weeks.
  • The next testing event will be on Sunday, July 12 from 1:30-5:30pm at A-B Tech, off Genevieve Circle, in the Allied Health Building Parking Lot
  • Next week we will begin the 3rd round of testing at the permanent community test sites
  • Due to the recent increase in testing nationwide and supply chain issues at some labs, LabCorp and other large commercial labs have seen an increase in specimens being sent to them for testing
  • As a result, the time it is taking to get test results has increased to 5-8 days
  • Anyone with a positive test result (meaning they have COVID-19) will be contacted by a Public Health nurse
  • People who were seen at the community testing sites are able to get their results online through the LabCorp Patient portal
  • Per LabCorp’s website, test results will be delivered to the portal as soon as they are available
  • Individuals will need to register or sign into the portal at patient.labcorp.com
  • Registration requires entry of the last four digits of the person’s social security number or a valid Driver’s License number for identity verification via text message or email

Mission Health System Chief Medical Officer Dr. William Hathaway

  • Mission Health (MH) has seen a rise in cases locally
  • All should continue to practice 3 Ws so that our healthcare system is not overwhelmed
  • 27 patients are currently hospitalized with the virus
  • 8 of those are in Intensive Care on ventilators
  • Previously we were averaging 15-20
  • Are seeing an increase in patients in the 18-49 age group
  • MH remains at Level 2 visitation
  • Continue to provide non-Covid care at this time
  • MH has created an insurance assistance program
  • Find information at missionhealth.org

Captain Joe Silberman with Asheville Police Department

  • Since March, APD has been strongly focused on education and advisement when it comes to enforcement of COVID-19 related orders
  • Only in cases where persistent non-compliant behavior persists, have we considered the use of citations to gain compliance
  • Since March, we have received more than 300 calls for service related to COVID-19 orders
  • Out of these calls, less than a handful resulted in citations, many resolved with communication
  • In regards to the mask mandate citations may be written only to businesses or organizations that fail to enforce the requirement to wear face coverings
  • Operators of businesses and organizations are entitled to rely on their customers or patrons' statements about whether or not they are exempted from the face covering requirements and businesses and organizations do not violate the Order if they rely on such statements
  • Voluntary compliance and education are specifically encouraged under the executive order, however, if a citation is necessary, just like the enforcement of past orders, it would be a Class 2 misdemeanor
  • If a business or organization does not allow entry to a worker, customer, or patron because that person refuses to wear a face covering, and if that worker, customer, or patron enters the premises or refuses to leave the premises, the individual may be cited for trespassing or violating any other laws
  • Non-compliance can be reported to APD’S non-emergency number at 828-252-1110

Key Takeaways July 2, 2020

  • As of noon today, there have been 598 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents.
  • 118 of these individuals are currently in isolation.
  • Over 52% of those with lab-confirmed COVID-19 in our county are between the ages of 18-49.
  • Across the country, there has been an increase in COVID-19 in young adults.
  • Over the last 2 weeks in Buncombe County, we've seen a 6% increase in cases in 18-49 year olds compared to the prior 2 week period.
  • While the illness often is less severe in younger people, some do get very sick and even die.
  • Younger individuals also may be more likely to show no symptoms yet still spread the virus.
  • Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been outbreaks at 8 long-term care facilities in Buncombe County.
  • A COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility is defined as 2 or more laboratory-confirmed cases. NCDHHS considers a long-term care facility COVID-19 outbreak over when it has been 28 days with no evidence of continued spread of COVID-19 within the facility. We are now at 7 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities in the county.
  • A long term care facility in our county that has been heavily affected by COVID-19 informed our communicable disease staff that the Medical Director of the facility conducted a review of the medical records of the residents of their facility who had died during their COVID-19 outbreak. As a result of that review, the facility administration reported to us that they had incorrectly reported the deaths of 10 residents of their facility as COVID-related deaths.
  • Our communicable disease staff is updating the numbers accordingly in both the county and state communicable disease data collection systems.
  • Therefore, there will be a noticeable decrease in the number of COVID-19-associated deaths in Buncombe County reported on the county and state websites in the next several days.
  • Based on this adjustment, the current # of COVID-19-associated deaths in Buncombe County residents is now at 30, 25 of whom were residents of long-term care facilities.
  • This change will not be reflected in today’s congregate care facility outbreak report from NC DHHS, but should appear on next Tuesday’s report.
  • Buncombe County Public Health is aware of over 17,000 COVID-19 tests that have been performed on residents of Buncombe County and staff who work in LTCFs in Buncombe County since the start of this pandemic response.
  • Who should get tested for COVID-19? Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19
    • Symptoms include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, congestion, runny nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
    • Close contacts of known positive cases, whether or not they have symptoms
  • If your healthcare provider does not offer testing, contact one of the local urgent cares or clinics offering testing.
  • Please see the testing article for more details on testing and who should get tested. You can also use the symptom checker found at www.buncombeready.org.
  • At both the Swannanoa and Enka locations, testing will be offered to staff of our smaller congregate care facilities from 9:30- 10:30 am and then open to the general public from 10:30am until 1:30pm.
  • This is a holiday weekend when we celebrate our country’s birth.
  • In past years, that meant getting together at cookouts or to watch fireworks. This year is different and it must be different due to COVID-19.
  • Wearing a mask or face covering is a simple but powerful action -- one of the most important actions each of us can take to gain control over this virus. Every contact counts -- continue to reduce your contact with others outside of your household to keep your risk of exposure lower.
  • You have the ability to protect your friends, family, our community, our economy and our country by following these simple steps.

Community Update June 25, 2020

Key Takeaways June 25, 2020

  • As of noon today, there have been 523 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents.
  • 92 individuals currently in isolation.
  • 51% have been between the ages of 18-49.
  • While the illness often is less severe in younger people, some do get very sick and even die.
  • Younger individuals also may be more likely to show no symptoms yet still spread the virus.
  • There are now outbreaks at 7 long-term care facilities in the county. An outbreak is considered to be 2 or more cases in a facility.
  • Sadly, 37 Buncombe County residents have died from COVID-19, including 32 residents of 3 long-term care facilities experiencing outbreaks.

Testing

Buncombe County Public Health is aware of over 15,500 COVID-19 tests performed on residents of Buncombe County and staff who work in LTCFs in Buncombe County since the start of this pandemic response. 

Testing is available for those who have symptoms of COVID-19, as well as those who are without symptoms but have had close contact with someone known to have COVID-19, or those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 as a result of their occupation or activities.

If your healthcare provider does not offer testing, contact one of the local urgent cares or clinics offering testing. Click here to find testing site locations.

Designated times for staff of long term and congregate care facilities will be offered at the Swannanoa Ingles on Tuesdays and the Buncombe County Sports Park on Thursdays, from 9:30- 10:30 am.
East Buncombe at 2217 US 70 Hwy., Swannanoa (Ingles Parking Lot)  Every Tuesday, Beginning June 30

Testing for the general public will be from 10:30am until 1:30pm

  • South West Buncombe at 58 Apac Dr., Asheville (Buncombe County Sports Park) Every Thursday, Beginning July 2. Testing for general public will be from 10:30am until 1:30pm
  • Central Buncombe at AB Tech, Genevieve Circle, Asheville (Allied Health Parking Lot) Every Sunday, Beginning July 5 Testing will be from 1:30pm until 5:30pm

There is no out-of-pocket cost for the testing at the community testing sites, but we do ask that those with health insurance, including Medicaid or Medicare, bring their insurance card with them.

Face Coverings

The best thing we can all do to get our economy and schools back open is to wear a face covering when you are out and about. If you must go out, don’t go into large crowds. Keep distance of 6 feet or more between yourself and others.

Reopening

Executive Order No 147 will go into effect this Friday at 5 pm.  Buncombe County will be fully aligning with Executive order No 147.
This new order extends Phase 2 of Reopening for 3 more weeks (until July 17), this means, that for the most part, things for the next 3 weeks will look just as they have for the last 5 weeks under Executive Order No 141 (Phase 2).
One important change.  As part of Executive Order No 147, Governor Cooper has mandated the use of face coverings statewide.
This means that people are now required to wear face coverings in public spaces, whether inside or outside, when physical distancing of 6ft is not possible.  This requirement is applicable, but not limited to:

  • Retail business
  • Restaurants
  • Personal care, grooming, and tattoo businesses
  • Child care facilities
  • State government employees
  • Transportation
  • Manufacturing, construction, agricultural settings
  • Meat and poultry processing plants
  • Long term care facilities

If you are outside by yourself or with your immediate family you do not need a face covering, but if you will be passing within 6 ft of others when outside in public you are required to wear a face covering.

Exceptions for this face covering mandate:

A face covering does not need to be worn by a worker, customer, or patron who meets one of the following exceptions:

  • persons with any medical or behavioral condition or disability (including, but not limited to, any person who has trouble breathing, or is otherwise unable to put on or remove the face covering without assistance);
  • Is under eleven years of age;
  • Is actively eating or drinking;
  • Is strenuously exercising;
  • Is seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired in a way that requires the mouth to be visible;
  • Is giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience;
  • Is working at home or is in a personal vehicle;
  • Is temporarily removing his or her face covering to secure government or medical services or for identification purposes;
  • Would be at risk from wearing a face covering at work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines;
  • Has found that their face covering is impeding visibility to operate equipment or a vehicle; and/or
  • Is a child whose parent, guardian, or responsible person has been unable to place the face covering safely on the child’s face.

If someone claims an exception, No proof nor documentation is required but the business or vendor can determine how to best manage service delivery for that client.

Citations related to this Order can be written to businesses or organizations that fail to enforce the requirement to wear face coverings.

Law enforcement personnel cannot criminally enforce the face covering requirements of this Order against individual workers, customers, or patrons. However, if a business or organization denies entry to a customer or client and they refuse to leave, Law Enforcement may enforce trespassing laws against that person.

 

Community Update, Monday June 22, 2020

As of 8 pm on June 22, 2020, there have been 504 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents. 105 of these individuals are currently in isolation.

Community spread of COVID-19 is occurring in our county. Cases spread through our community and households after interactions with coworkers; gatherings with family, friends and others; and in many cases, without any certain source of exposure. A majority of cases are occurring in 25-49 year olds.

Over 1,050 people have been tested at the community testing sites so far. At these sites, 28 people have tested positive for COVID-19. Many people are either symptomatic or close contacts to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19. Please use the self-checker to assess your symptoms and to be connected to testing.

COVID-19 testing sites for next week will be announced soon.

Contact tracing is underway to notify close contacts of their exposure to someone with COVID-19. Individuals identified as close contacts will get a phone call from their local health department or NC OUTREACH (844-628-7223).

Interim Public Health Director, Dr. Jennifer Mullendore, urges the community to stay vigilant, saying, “Every contact counts and we must do the hard work now if we don’t want this situation to get worse. If you must go out in public, practice the 3 W’s. Wear a face covering when you are out in public. Wait 6 feet apart from others outside your immediate household. Wash your hands frequently.”

Key Takeaways June 18, 2020

  • As of noon today, there have been 470 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents.
  • 139 of these individuals are currently in isolation.
    • Community spread of COVID-19 is occurring in our county. Cases spread through our community and households after interactions with coworkers; trips with extended family and friends; attendance at church, funerals, and gatherings with friends; and in many cases, without any certain source of exposure.
  • A majority of cases are occurring in 25-49 year olds.
  • When you must go out in public or gather with others, practice the three Ws.
    • Wear a face covering.
    • Wait six feet apart from others when out in public.
    • Wash your hands.
  • Every contact counts and we must do the hard work now if we don’t want this situation to get worse

Long Term Care Facilities (LTCF):

  • There are now outbreaks at 6 nursing homes in the county.
  • An outbreak is considered to be 2 or more lab-confirmed cases in a facility within 28 days.
  • We are working with those facilities on ongoing testing to identify new cases in any residents or staff in an effort to prevent further spread of infection.
  • Sadly, 36 Buncombe County residents have died from COVID-19, including 31 residents of 2 nursing homes that are experiencing outbreaks.

Testing Results and Recommendations for Testing:

  • Over 12,250 COVID-19 tests have been performed in Buncombe County residents.
  • Today’s percent positive rate is 3.8%, meaning that 3.8% of tests performed on Buncombe County residents have come back showing infection with COVID-19. Our rates have been around 4% for the past several weeks.
  • The positivity rate for NC as a whole is 9% and other states in the southeast US are also seeing positivity rates higher than the rest of the US, which has a rate of 6%.
  • Over 900 people have been tested at the community testing sites.
  • Last week’s community testing identified 10 individuals with COVID-19; we are still waiting on results of 13 tests.
  • 25 total individuals have tested positive at these testing sites.
  • Earlier this week, 150 people were tested at AB Tech; results from those tests have not yet returned.
  • Testing is available for:
    • Anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19
    • Symptoms may include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, congestion, runny nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
    • Anyone (with or without symptoms) who is a close contact of a known positive case
  • Anyone (with or without symptoms) in the following groups who believes they may have been exposed to COVID-19:
    • Persons who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings (e.g., long-term care facility, homeless shelter, correctional facility, migrant farmworker camp)
    • Persons who are at high risk of severe illness (e.g., people over 65 years of age, people of any age with underlying health conditions)
    • Historically marginalized populations
    • Healthcare workers or first responders (e.g. EMS, law enforcement, fire department, military)
    • Front-line and essential workers (grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, child care workers, construction workers, food processing plant workers, etc.) in settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain
    • People who attended mass gatherings (protests, marches, rallies, funerals, parties, cookouts, etc.), particularly if they were in crowds or other situations where they couldn’t practice effective social distancing
  • If you meet the above criteria, contact your healthcare provider to see if testing is available through them.
  • If not, check BuncombeReady.org for a list of local sites that are offering testing.
  • There is no out-of-pocket cost for the testing at the community testing sites, but we do ask that those with health insurance, including Medicaid or Medicare, bring their insurance card with them so that their insurance can be billed for the cost of the test.
  • Language services are available at the community testing sites.
  • Thank you to all who have volunteered, provided testing, and helped with coordination of the testing sites. Your care and compassion are what we need right now. There is no doubt that caring for others is what will get us successfully through this global pandemic.
  • Next week, our testing efforts will be focused on residential facilities that house older, at-risk adults.
  • Community testing will resume the following week at locations throughout the county. These sites will be more permanent in nature and will operate with expanded hours to serve the needs of everyone in our community.
  • Next week we will announce the locations of the testing sites for the week of June 29.
  • It is important that people answer the call when the Community Team reaches out.
  • Individuals being contacted will get an initial text from the number 45394 or email from dhhs.nc.gov with follow-up phone calls from their local health department or NC OUTREACH (844-628-7223).
  • We all need to assume that we could have it, even if we are without symptoms, and we need to assume that everyone around us could have it as well.
  • Use the self-checker found at buncombeready.org to assess your symptoms and the need for testing.
  • It takes each of us caring about not just ourselves, but others in our community to slow and stop the spread of this illness.

BCHHS Update June 15, 2020

Overview:

  • As of 5 p.m. today, there have been 452 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents.
  • 159 of these individuals are currently in isolation.
  • There remain outbreaks at 5 nursing homes in the county. An outbreak is considered to be 2 or more cases in a facility.
  • Sadly, 35 Buncombe County residents have died from COVID-19, including 30 residents of 2 nursing homes that are experiencing outbreaks.
  • Community spread of COVID-19 is occurring and public health officials urge caution when out in public to continue to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Testing Results and Recommendations for Testing:

  • Over 11,688 COVID-19 tests have been performed in Buncombe County residents.
  • A total of 751 people have been tested at the community testing sites held throughout the county over 4 weeks of testing.
  • Test results from last week’s community testing sites include 9 lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 results and 27 test results still pending.
  • COVID-19 symptoms may include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, congestion, runny nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Testing is available for those who have symptoms of COVID-19, as well as those who are without symptoms but have had close contact with someone known to have COVID-19, or those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 as a result of their occupation or activities.
    • Anyone who has attended a mass gathering
    • Anyone who works as a front-line worker in a grocery store, gas station, restaurant, or child care center
    • Anyone who lives or works in a higher risk setting like a homeless shelter, food processing facility
  • We also are encouraging individuals in historically marginalized populations to get tested as these populations have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
  • If your healthcare provider does not offer testing, contact one of the local urgent cares or clinics offering testing, including Range Urgent Care, Mercy Urgent Care, MAHEC Family Health Center at Biltmore, Mission Virtual Health, FastMed and the CVS on Hendersonville Road.
  • Community testing is available this week at the following locations:
    • Tuesday, June 16 will be a drive-through testing site at the main AB tech campus behind the Allied Health Building from 1-4pm.
    • Thursday, June 18 testing will be at the Grant Center at 285 Livingston St from 1-4 pm. There is not a lot of room for parking at this location so we want people to know that it is intended for walk-up testing. The queue for cars will be on Livingston Street.
  • There is no out-of-pocket cost for the testing at the community testing sites, but we do ask that those with health insurance, including Medicaid or Medicare, bring their insurance card with them so that their insurance can be billed for the cost of the test.
  • Language services will be available at the community testing sites.

Key Takeaways For June 11, 2020

  • Case Count: 418 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • 144 of these individuals are currently in isolation
  • Fatalities: 34 buncombe County residents have died from COVID-19
  • There are now outbreaks at 5 nursing homes within Buncombe County
    • An outbreak is considered 2 or more cases in a facility
  • Get tested for COVID-19 if you are experiencing symptoms, are a member of front line staff, are a member of a high risk group, have attended a mass gathering, or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
    • If you have insurance, please bring your card with you to get tested
    • Language services are available at the Buncombe County community testing sites
    • Click here to learn more about testing in Buncombe County
  • Contact tracers contact people that may have been exposed to COVID-19
  • It is important that people answer the call when the contact tracers reach out. Individuals being contacted will get an initial text from the number 45394 or email from dhhs.nc.gov with follow-up phone calls from their local health department or NC OUTREACH (844-628-7223).

Key Takeaways for June 8, 2020

  • As of June 8, there have been a total of 393 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • 143 of these have been in residents/staff of long-term care facilities
  • 34 deaths associated with COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents including 29 residents of long-term care facilities
  • There are currently four outbreaks (two or more cases) in long-term care facilities
  • Communities of color continue to be disproportionately affected by COVID-19 nationally and locally
  • The state reported the first COVID-19 associated death of a child in North Carolina
  • Almost 10,300 tests have been performed in Buncombe County residents
  • 440 of those at Buncombe's community test sites
  • Many have mild or no symptoms
  • If you have symptoms, or are a close contact of someone who has tested positive we want you to get tested
  • Click here for the schedule of next week’s community testing sites next week that are primarily for walk-up traffic
  • These test sites will rotate throughout Buncombe County in the coming weeks to meet the needs of people with limited access to a healthcare provider who is testing for COVID-19, people who face financial barriers to obtain a test, or who have no direct healthcare
  • There will be no out-of-pocket costs for anyone that receives testing through these sites
  • Visit the Buncombe Ready COVID-19 Self-Checker to check symptoms
  • You should get tested if you have attended a mass gathering, are a frontline worker (grocery store), or a nursing home worker
  • The most optimal time for testing after a potential exposure is six days
  • 2095 Buncombe residents have completed the self-checker tool
  • 7% have reported severe symptoms
  • Buncombe County now has 22 contact tracers on staff
  • Contact tracers will never ask for bank or social security information
  • Health information shared is confidential
  • You may receive a phone call from 844-628-7223, text from 45394, or email from state contact tracers at dhhs.nc.gov.
  • Please remember the 3 Ws when returning to public spaces to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19
    • Wait at least 6 feet apart when in line
    • Wear a face covering
    • Wash your hands regularly

Key Takeaways: June 4, 2020

  • Case Count: 374 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents.
    • ~22% of positive cases in Buncombe County are in black, indigenous, and people of color who make up only 8.4% of our total population.
    • ~25% of positive cases in Buncombe County identify as Hispanic or Latinx, who make up a total of 6.7% of our county’s population.
  • Racism continues to be a threat to public health and is a public health crisis, a threat that can be measured and seen in the percentages listed above.
  • Fatalities: 30 Buncombe County residents have died from COVID-19
    • 25 were residents of Long Term Care Facilities
  • Quarantine orders are mandated to individuals who might have been exposed to COVID-19 and could infect others. An order to quarantine mandates that you stay home for 14 days while you monitor your symptoms. If you develop symptoms and are found to be positive, you will be issued an isolation order.
  • Isolation orders are for individuals who are sick with COVID-19. An isolation order mandates that you should stay at home, in your own “sick room” or space until you have met the recovery criteria, in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Buncombe County.
  • If you receive either of these orders, please take it seriously. COVID-19 is infecting and killing Buncombe residents and we need to work as a team to reduce the impact in our communities.
  • We continue working to provide testing and support to long term care facilities. Unfortunately insurance providers are not covering cost of testing employees
  • If you are sick or even have mild symptoms related to COVID-19, stay home.
  • Employers are encouraged to take COVID-19 seriously by implementing public health guidance including mandating physical distancing for employees and clients, requiring face coverings be worn by all employees and clients, and making it convenient for all employees and clients to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer.
  • Community Testing is available to Buncombe County residents. Click here for more information on testing near you.
  • Remember to stay connected during this time. Check up on your friends and family but also remember to check in with yourself.
  • Census funds help support the COVID-19 response effort and much more. Please do your part to secure funding for vital programs and services in Buncombe County by participating in the 2020 Census.

Key Takeaways for June 1, 2020

  • Cases: 342 lab confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County
  • Buncombe County Fatalities: 29
  • Today we observe a day of grief for the 100,000 people in the United States that have lost their lives to COVID-19.
  • Public Health and partners continue to work with community and agency partners to provide testing services to facilities and their residents.
  • We are offering three Buncombe County Testing opportunities this week. Click here to see our schedule.
  • Thank you to Range Urgent Care for collaborating with our community to provide testing in Buncombe County.
  • Racism is a threat to public health whether it is in the form of COVID-19 infection and death, rates of diabetes, infant and maternal mortality, or police brutality.
  • It continues to be important to slow the spread of COVID-19. Here are some tips to reduce the spread:
    • If you choose to meet up with people outside your immediate household, do so outside.
    • Do not share food or drinks
    • Wear a face-covering and keep your hands clean
    • STAY HOME WHEN YOU ARE SICK
  • To date, only six staff at mission hospital tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The number of patients testing positive for COVID-19 has risen over the last 2 weeks from 6 to between 12 and 20 per day. Many of these patients are cared for in the ICU and several of them are on ventilators. While this is a significant increase, it is neither overwhelming nor unexpected. There are currently ample supports and resources to care for 3 times our current case load.
  • Our goal continues to be to reduce the spread and impact of COVID-19. It is our shared responsibility to do everything we can save lives, including practicing the 3 Ws:
    • Wait 6 feet apart from other people
    • Wear a face covering in public spaces
    • Wash your hands frequently
  • The next community update will be held on 6/4 at 2:30p.

Key Takeaways for May 27, 2020

  • As of May 22, there have been a total of 279 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • 119 of these have been in residents/staff of long-term care facilities
  • 20 deaths associated with COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents including 15 residents of long-term care facilities
  • The majority of deaths have been in individuals over the age of 65
  • There are currently four outbreaks (two or more cases) in long-term care facilities
  • Communities of color continue to be  disproportionately affected by COVID-19 nationally and locally
  • Almost 7000 tests have been performed in Buncombe County residents
  • If you have symptoms, or are a close contact of someone who has tested positive we want you to get tested
  • Click here for the schedule of next week’s community testing sites next week that are primarily for walk-up traffic
  • These test sites will rotate throughout Buncombe County in the coming weeks to meet the needs of people with limited access to a healthcare provider who is testing for COVID-19, people who face financial barriers to obtain a test, or who have no direct healthcare
  • There will be no out-of-pocket costs for anyone that receives testing through these sites
  • Visit the Buncombe Ready COVID-19 Self-Checker to check symptoms
  • Please remember the 3 Ws when returning to public spaces to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19
    • Wait at least 6 feet apart when in line
    • Wear a face covering
    • Wash your hands regularly
  • The purpose of face coverings is to reduce your chance of transmitting the virus to others
  • Mission Health (MH) had close to one dozen people hospitalized last week related to skilled nursing facilities
  • MH became aware of a small group of staff who work closely together and identified 6 members of staff who tested positive
  • They found no evidence of risk with patients
  • MH has tested remainder of staff on that unit: 48 additional tests have been done with 4 still pending
  • MH will continue to restrict visitation, and continue their mask policy
  • MH is appreciative of the hard work of the employees of these facilities and their families
  • MH has ample supplies to monitor and provide for the care of patients and staff
  • Buncombe Courts are beginning to expand operations beginning June 1, and they will be following all necessary safety protocols
  • Many of the matters that were postponed including landlord/tenant matters will begin again
  • Courts will continue to utilize remote technologies for processing cases and for those cases that require court appearances we will be strongly recommending the usage of masks
  • There may be a substantial backlog of cases and they will prioritized in the order of seriousness, age, and readiness for court
  • The courts thank the public for their patience
  • Chief Justice Beasley reiterates we must continue to provide justice through our courts while balancing safety for the public and employees
  • Jury trials are suspended through the month of July. If you have been summoned for jury duty you will not have to serve in the months of June or July with the exception of the grand jury
  • Marc Shimberg has been appointed COVID-19 coordinator for Buncombe courts
  • Visit nccourts.gov and click on Buncombe County for more information
  • Click here to see the statement from Buncombe DA Todd Williams
  • The DA’s office will prioritize domestic violence, driving while impaired, and class A1 misdemeanors for prosecution
  • If you are charged with these crimes you must come to court, if you fail to come to court, they will ask judges to issue an order for your arrest
  • Visit buncombeda.org if you have a question about a court date or call 259-3410 for assistance

Key Takeaways for May 22, 2020

  • Thanks to all EMS workers during EMS appreciation week
  • As of May 22, there have been a total of 216 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents, click here for the dashboard of cases
  • 7 deaths associated with COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • Communities of color continue to be  disproportionately affected by COVID-19 nationally and locally
  • Over 4300 tests have been performed in Buncombe County residents
  • If you have symptoms, or are a close contact of someone who has tested positive we want you to get tested
  • Click here for the schedule of next week’s community testing sites next week that are primarily for walk-up traffic
  • They test sites will rotate throughout Buncombe County in the coming weeks to meet the needs of people with limited access to a healthcare provider who is testing for COVID-19, people who face financial barriers to obtain a test, or who have no direct healthcare
  • There will be no out-of-pocket costs for anyone that receives testing through these sites
  • Visit the Buncombe Ready COVID-19 Self-Checker to check symptoms
  • Remember the 3 Ws when returning to public spaces to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 as we move into Phase 2
    • Wait at least 6 feet apart when in line
    • Wear a face covering
    • Wash your hands regularly
  • Please continue the practice of physical distancing
  • The purpose of face coverings is to reduce your chance of transmitting the virus to others
  • Wearing face coverings in public is a sign of caring and compassion
  • The Board of Commissioners on May 21, approved requiring the use of face coverings for indoor public facing businesses such as retail stores and restaurants, effective Tuesday, May 26 at 7 a.m.
  • This will be for Asheville and unincorporated Buncombe County only
  • Visit buncombeready.org for more information on the updated Safer at Home order
  • Buncombe County enters Phase 2 at 5 p.m. on May 22
  • We are adopting Gov. Cooper’s Executive Order 141 and FAQ document with certain restrictions
  • We can all work together to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community
  • Let's be safe, smart, and take this step by step
  • Let's Talk Justice takes place on Tuesday, May 26 from 1-2 p.m.
  • The next community update will take place on Wednesday, May 27 at 3 p.m. 

Key Takeaways for May 18, 2020

  • As of 1 p.m. May 18, there have been a total of 176 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents (buncombecounty.org dashboard is in the process of being updated)
  • 5 deaths associated with COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • Over 3700 tests have been done in Buncombe County
  • We now have COVID-19 outbreaks in four long-term care facilities
  • Thanks to Range Urgent Care, Buncombe County Emergency Services, Blue Ridge Health and LabCorp who have answered the call and stepped up to assist with testing at these facilities.
  • Buncombe County has worked proactively with long-term care facilities when they identify one case in a resident or staff member
  • While state guidance recommends testing of all residents and staff, if possible, we are working with facilities and community partners to ensure all residents and staff in these facilities are tested
  • We are instructing those facilities to repeat testing within the following week and each week thereafter until no new cases are identified
  • As of the morning of May 18, about 1000 tests were conducted in long-term care facilities
  • By COB May 18, 2 facilities will have completed their second round of testing
  • Public Health, Emergency Services, and Asheville Fire Department are assisting facilities with testing, guidance, and to provide PPE if a need has been identified
  • The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services issued updated guidance on who should be tested for COVID-19
  • The new guidance recommends that clinicians test any patient in whom COVID-19 is suspected and ensures the following populations have access to testing, regardless of symptoms
    • Anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19
    • Close contacts of known positive cases, regardless of symptoms 
    • Persons who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings (e.g., long-term care facility, homeless shelter, correctional facility, migrant farmworker camp)
    • Persons who are at high risk of severe illness (e.g., people over 65 years of age, people of any age with underlying health conditions)
    • Persons who come from historically marginalized populations
    • Health care workers or first responders (e.g. EMS, law enforcement, fire department, military)
    • Front-line and essential workers (grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, etc.) in settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain- and they should repeat testing often if they get a negative test result
  • Last week at the 2 community-based testing events approximately 100 individuals were tested. Western North Carolina Community Health Services will be contacting these individuals with their results
  • Our community-based testing events are scheduled to continue this week and beyond. They are intended for walk-up testing and for people in these communities
  • We will notify the community of any postponements by 9 a.m. the day of the scheduled event
  • The details of the testing sites are available at buncombeready.org
    • Pisgah View Community, Tuesday, May 19, 1-4 p.m.
    • Sandy Mush Community Center, Wednesday, May 20, 1-4 p.m.
    • Deaverview Community Center, Thursday, May 21, 1-4 p.m.
  • Find more information on testing here
  • Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 138, the Phase I Order, remains in effect through this Friday May 22 at 5 p.m.
  • We expect, that later this week, the Governor’s office and the COVID-19 Task Force will start sharing details about the planned rollout of Phase 2
  • General framework may include:
    • Lifting the Statewide Stay at Home Order
    • Encouraging vulnerable populations to Stay Home
    • Allowing a limited opening of restaurants, bars and other businesses that can follow physical distancing protocol to operate at a reduced capacity.
    • Allow gatherings at houses of worship and entertainment venues at a reduced capacity
    • Increase the number of people allowed at mass gatherings
    • Open public playgrounds
    • Continuing rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and other congregate living settings.
  • Public Health will make recommendations to County leadership as more details emerge
  • Wearing face coverings in a public setting is one of the best tools currently in our toolbox for minimizing the spread of COVID-19. 
  • Studies consistently show that roughly 50% of new cases are infected by people who themselves are not showing symptoms. This means that healthy people are infecting others, probably without ever knowing they are even sick.
  • These non-fitted masks, bandanas, and head wraps are intended to protect others. They work as a barrier, to physically knock down droplets of saliva, and they are very effective.
  • Many studies show that if just 80% of people wore a face covering when in public the transmission of COVID-19 could be halted. 
  • Without a treatment, the combination of face coverings and physical distancing are the best tools we have to fight this pandemic.

Key Takeaways for May 14, 2020

  • Link to cases dashboard
  • Despite facilities’ robust efforts to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 among staff and residents, outbreaks in long-term care facilities continue to occur throughout North Carolina and the United States.
  • Cases associated with long term care facilities make up half of the cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina.
  • To date, Buncombe County has been notified of lab confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 2 long-term care facilities within our county.
  • Buncombe County Public Health is actively conducting contact tracing and coordinating with the facilities.
  • Fire Marshals and Environmental Health Specialists jointly visited every long-term care facility in Buncombe County in early April to assess facilities prevention strategies and create a line of communication in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.
  • There are plans underway for the creation of a strike team that will visit all congregate care facilities in Buncombe County to ensure that administrators have the support and guidance they need.
  • The strike team will consist of public health nurses and emergency services personnel, who will provide education on PPE protocols, review site plan layouts and plans for isolation and quarantine of suspected or positive cases in staff and residents.
  • This team will also provide facilities with a list of COVID-19 testing providers, support with supplies, and will provide technical assistance for testing in the event that a staff member or resident becomes symptomatic.
  • At this point, over 3,500 COVID-19 tests have been administered in Buncombe County.
  • 45.7 % of cases are in people between the ages of 25-49.
  • There are still 4 COVID-19 associated deaths in Buncombe County. The numbers reported earlier in the week from Mission included deaths in people who were not residents of Buncombe County.
  • In Buncombe County, 34.3 % of our cases are in the Hispanic population. This disproportionality is not to be taken lightly.
  • As COVID-19 has highlighted health and social inequalities across the country existing prior to this pandemic, we have and will continue to conduct outreach to our Hispanic, African-American and under resourced communities to ensure that we are offering testing sites that meet the needs of our community.  
  • The Buncombe County Emergency Operations Center’s Rapid Response & Recovery Equity Action Team has identified testing site locations based on an equity analysis reliant on relevant data and community input.
  • Testing is available to both the insured and uninsured, with no out of pocket cost. The community testing sites are designed as walk-up sites and for those who are unable to get to an urgent care or primary care provider.
  • If you have transportation, please reach out to MAHEC Family Health Center, Mercy Urgent Care, or Range Urgent Care to get tested for COVID-19.
  • 47 people were tested at the community testing site at Hillcrest on Tuesday.
  • Next week, Western North Carolina Community Health Services will run COVID-19 Community Testing sites in these locations:
    • Pisgah View Community on Tuesday, May 19th -1-4pm
    • Sandy Mush Community Center on Wednesday, May 20th - 1-4pm
    • Deaverview Community on Thursday, May 21st - 1-4pm
  • We will be hosting testing sites ongoing in the coming weeks.
  • There are enough testing supplies available for our community to be tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19.

Key Takeaways for May 11, 2020

  • As of 1 p.m. May 11, there have been a total of 102 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • 4 deaths associated with COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • Over 3100 tests have been done in Buncombe County
  • Communities of color have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 nationally and locally-34% of the positive cases in Buncombe County self-identify as Latinx
  • If you have symptoms, we want you to get tested
  • The community testing sites that start tomorrow are primarily for walk-up traffic
  • They test sites will rotate throughout Buncombe County in the coming weeks to meet the needs of people with limited access to a healthcare provider who is testing for COVID-19, people who face financial barriers to obtain a test, or who have no direct healthcare
  • Visit the Buncombe Ready COVID-19 Self-Checker to check symptoms
  • Remember the 3 Ws
    • Wait at least 6 feet apart when in line
    • Wear a face covering
    • Wash your hands regularly
  • There are now many more businesses open in the community, these businesses must comply with specific directions from the state as to how they are allowed to operate
  • People should still stay at home as much as possible, but the variety of reasons people are allowed to leave their homes has expanded
  • Visit buncombeready.org for more information on new Stay Safe-Stay Home
  • See the Phase 1 transition chart here
  • The purpose of face coverings is to reduce your chance of transmitting the virus to others
  • Wearing face coverings in public is a sign of caring and compassion
  • Individual stores and businesses that have opened up for Phase 1 of operations have the right to require patrons to wear face coverings to enter their business
  • Mission Health (MH) response remains robust
  • MH has resumed what is termed as elective procedures
  • MH is on Level 3 visitor restriction- no visitors on floor of hospital except for certain circumstances
  • Please seek emergency care if you experiencing a serious medical condition or need emergency care
  • MH has had 34 patients who have received care for COVID-19
  • 2 patients in care at this time

Key Takeaways for May 7, 2020

  • As of 1 p.m. May 7, there have been a total of 87 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • 4 deaths associated with COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • More information will be released tomorrow about additional community based testing sites
  • If you have symptoms, we want you to get tested
  • Call your healthcare provider, urgent care, or Buncombe County’s public health hotline at (828) 250-5300
  • Once certain restrictions are lifted we should still
    • Limit nonessential travel
    • Practice physical distancing
    • Wear face coverings
    • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer
  • Board of Commissioners Chair Brownie Newman signed new declaration Stay Home Stay Safe Order- Phase 1 Reopening
  • Phase one of Buncombe’s reopening campaign is effective May 8, at 5 p.m.
  • This order aligns with Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 138 with the sole exception of a continued restriction on leisure travel booking
  • Asheville City Mayor Esther Manheimer emphasized the 3 Ws
    • Wait at least 6 feet apart when in line
    • Wear a face covering
    • Wash your hands regularly
  • Thank all to the first responders, nurses, and teachers in your lives. These essential public servants have been working around the clock to ensure the health and safety of our communities.
  • The amended Stay Home-Stay Safe order reduces restrictions on travel, retail and business.
  • Business that must remain closed:
    • Restaurants (open only for takeout)
    • Health Clubs
    • Beauty
    • Entertainment Facilities
  • Many retail businesses are allowed to open (at 50% capacity) as long as they:
    • Respect physical distancing guidelines by requiring patrons to shop and wait at least 6 feet apart.
    • Provide hand washing stations or hand sanitizer in store
    • Encourage patrons to wear face coverings
  • Today is Mental Health Awareness Day
  • Practice Awareness- what does stress feel like in your body?
  • Gratitude
  • Seek Resources
  • Hope4NC Helpline: 1-855-587-3463

Key Takeaways for May 4, 2020

  • As of 1 p.m. May 4, there have been a total of 79 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • 4 deaths associated with COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • We expect to see the count rise as testing increases and restrictions continue to relax
  • Buncombe County and NC State launched the COVID-19 Self Checker on April 30
  • 237 individuals have completed the self-checker since the launch
  • CDC has updated symptom guidance to include: People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Or at least two of these symptoms:
    • Fever
    • Chills
    • Repeated shaking with chills
    • Muscle pain
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • New loss of taste or smell
  • If you have symptoms, we want you to get tested
  • Call your healthcare provider, urgent care, or Buncombe County’s public health hotline at (828) 250-5300
  • For employers who want to make sure their work environments are safe:
    • Are people are in close contact to one another- 6 feet for a period of 10 minutes or more?
    • Are there adequate handwashing stations?
    • Are employees wearing face coverings and physical distancing to the greatest extent possible?
  • Since COVID-19 spreads through close contact with others, we must take all necessary steps to reduce the opportunity for spreading the virus as much as possible:
    • Physical distancing – limit contact with others outside of your household
    • Handwashing for 20 seconds or more
    • Monitoring your symptoms daily
    • Wearing a face covering in public
    • Cleaning frequently touched surfaces with approved sanitizers
  • NC Governor moving forward with plans to implement Phase 1 of reopening on May 9
  • Reopening will be slow and deliberate, if cases escalate quickly we stand ready to re-implement more restrictive measures

Key Takeaways for April 30, 2020

  • As of 1 p.m. April 30, there have been a total of 68 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • 4 deaths associated with COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • Buncombe County has launched a new COVID-19 data dashboard
  • Over 2600 tests have been conducted by providers and MH
  • Buncombe County and NC State have launched the COVID-19 Self Checker
  • Some providers and urgent cares have adapted their processes to allow safe testing
  • BC is working to draft plans to get testing to under resourced areas of our community
  • CDC has updated symptom guidance to include: People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Or at least two of these symptoms:
    • Fever
    • Chills
    • Repeated shaking with chills
    • Muscle pain
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • New loss of taste or smell
  • If you have symptoms, use the COVID-19 Self Checker or call your healthcare provider, urgent care, or Buncombe County’s public health hotline at (828) 250-5300
  • Board of Commissioners Chairman Newman announced changes to the Stay Home Stay Safe order effective 6 a.m., May 1, 2020
  • The most substantial change is to the mass gathering number. It has changed from 0 to 10
  • Mission Health has seen between 20-25 COVID-19 patients
  • Mission Health states they have adequate resources to care for patients and will be expanding and ramping up some imaging and surgery services
  • Mission Health still has Level 2 restrictions in place
  • Dr. Hathaway reassures the community that hospitals are a safe place to go

Key Takeaways for April 27, 2020

  • As of 1 p.m., April 27, there have been a total of 54 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • 3 deaths associated with COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • Over 2200 tests have been conducted by providers and Mission Health
  • The number of tests done last week was about 7% higher than the previous week
  • Some providers and urgent cares have adapted their processes to allow safe testing
  • BC is working to draft plans to get testing to under-resourced areas of our community
  • If you have symptoms, call your healthcare provider, urgent care, or Buncombe County’s public health hotline at (828) 250-5300
  • BC Public Health is currently contact tracing for every case of COVID-19 in our community
  • We have 7 current staff and are training additional staff
  • NCDHHS is also working to increase contact tracing capacity statewide
  • Please continue to follow guidance-stay home when you can, wear a cloth face mask when you go out, wash your hands
  • We are still finalizing details about self-checker tool and will push out soon
  • As we draft our framework for re-opening, it is our goal to align with the Governor’s plan
  • The county does not collect or interpret cell phone data
  • Please remember to fill out your census so our schools and emergency services can get the resources they need

Key Takeaways for April 23, 2020

  • As of 1 p.m. April 23, there have been a total of 51 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • 3 deaths associated with COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • 2,170 tests have been conducted by providers and Mission Health
  • Range and Mercy Urgent Care are working to increase testing
  • We are working with our local federally qualified health centers to see how they can help us get testing out to under-resourced parts of our community
  • We have put out a request to our local hospital systems to see how they can increase testing in the community
  • Public health experts believe that we will still be dealing with COVID-19 in the Fall and into next year
  • We will have a successful response if we can test, trace contacts, and examine the trends
  • Public Health continues to develop a comprehensive strategy to slowly open our community and economy while keeping our community as safe as possible
  • We will have a draft proposal for leadership to review early next week
  • The process will be deliberately slow and gradual
  • Governor Cooper has outlined a roadmap to reopening
    • More testing
    • Increase capacity for contact tracing
    • Consistent downward trends
  • Locally a tool is in development to assist with identifying trends and connecting people to testing
  • More information and details will be released on Monday

Key Takeaways for April 20, 2020

  • As of 1 p.m. April 20, there have been a total of 48 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • 3 deaths associated with COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • 1900 tests have been done by providers in Buncombe County-this does not include testing not reported to BC Public Health that came back negative or any rapid test results that were negative such as Mission Health’s lab
  • BC Public Health testing priority continues to be for high-risk groups such as those living in congregate living facilities, first responders, and healthcare providers
  • NCDHHS has revised guidance to providers to encourage testing of individuals who the provider suspects having COVID-19
  • BC Public Health will continue conversations with providers to explore options for providers to get more access to testing
  • Role of Public Health continues to be surveillance and contact tracing
  • City of Asheville and Skyland Fire Department in coordination with BC Emergency Services have established Quick Response Teams ( QRTs) that consist of firefighters that have advanced emergency medical training
  • QRTs can respond to non, life-threatening medical emergencies in our community
  • The goal of QRT program is to lower the burden on our healthcare system
  • The safety and health of our first responders is a top priority
  • BC Emergency Services received a large supply of PPE last week from NC Emergency Management and today from Dogwood Health Trust
  • These PPE additions mean a high level of confidence that our first responders will be protected and that the rate of use will not exceed supply
  • Buncombe County is working to develop an adaptive response to slowly ease restrictions and reopen our community based on data and lead indicators
  • The community must be prepared to close down quickly if there is a surge in cases
  • We will follow and assess NC Governor’s intentions and plans to evaluate what is right for our community

Key Takeaways for April 16, 2020

  • As of 1 p.m. April 16, there have been a total of 43 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • 44% of these individuals have been 25-49 years of age
  • There has been 3 deaths associated with COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • County is looking at testing, tracking, and trends
  • Moving to increasing the availability of testing for COVID-19 in our community
  • BCHHS has identified and will be training additional staff to support additional contact tracing as we expect to identify more cases when testing is increased
  • Data and trends that the state and our county will be following include the number of new positive cases, numbers of people in the hospital for COVID-19 illness, numbers of deaths, as well as available supply of personal protective equipment and hospital capacity
  • If you are sick with symptoms of COVID-19, please contact your primary care provider or a local urgent care. If you don’t have a primary care provider, you can call (828) 250-5300 to speak with a nurse who can assess your need to be tested
  • Please continue to wash your hands, do not touch your face, safely wear a face covering when you go out in public if physical distancing is not possible
  • The EOC has been activated for 34 days
  • Repurposed County employees have volunteered to attend 40 hours of EMS medical and operations training through A-B Tech’s EMS workforce training
  • Pandemic planning is in place for Detention Center and vulnerable population outbreaks
  • State Medical Assistance Team has helped to set up alternate care facility at A-B Tech Nursing Care simulation lab if needed
  • Work is being done with partner agencies to develop a rapid medical volunteer credentialing process if needed
  • For non-medical volunteers visit handsonasheville.org

Key Takeaways for April 13, 2020

  • As of 2 p.m. on April 13 there have been a total of 38 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • 34 of these individuals have recovered from their illness and been released from isolation
  • There now have been 3 deaths associated with COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents
  • A survey tool is in development that can give us a better idea of the number of people experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 in Buncombe County
  • The Governor’s most recent Executive Order means you might see some changes at essential retail establishments
  • City of Asheville Fire Marshals are visiting essential retailers today and over the next few days to assist them in determining and posting these new Emergency Maximum Occupancy numbers
  • Check websites or call ahead to ensure you aren’t encroaching on special hours for vulnerable populations
  • You may also see plastic shields at cash registers, or shopping lanes marked for one-way routing through the store.
  • We ask everyone to be patient with each other and staff as we navigate these challenging times together. Respect everyone’s space, try to understand and share the feelings of others, and be kind.

April 10, 2020 - Community Update Second COVID-19 Death in Buncombe County

A U.S. military Veteran in his 80’s who was admitted to the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville has become the hospital’s first inpatient to pass away from COVID-19 complications. The veteran passed away April 9, 2020.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of the Veteran,” said Stephanie Young, Director of the Western North Carolina VA Health Care System. “The Western North Carolina VA Health Care System family is saddened to lose one of our nation’s heroes. We would like to extend our most heartfelt sympathy to the family and all whose lives have been touched by this Veteran.”

Buncombe County Health and Human Services (BCHHS) reports this as the second Buncombe County resident to die from COVID-19 associated illness. To protect the privacy of the family, no further information about this patient will be released by BCHHS nor the Charles George VA Medical Center.

“COVID-19 continues to take a toll on our community. We are sad to announce this second COVID-19 related death and our thoughts are with the family at this time. Unfortunately, we believe that this will not be the last time that we are confronted with this kind of information.” said Interim Public Health Director, Dr. Jennifer Mullendore.

It remains important for people in Buncombe County to take the guidance from public health professionals seriously. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) people at high risk for severe medical consequences, including death are:

  • People 65 years of age or older 
  • People of any age who have a high-risk condition that includes: 
  • chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • heart disease with complications 
  • weakened immune system 
  • severe obesity - body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher 
  • other underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as diabetes, kidney failure or liver disease
  • pregnancy - pregnant women should be followed closely by their healthcare providers since they are known to be at risk for severe viral illness.

Buncombe County and all of its municipalities continue to be under a Stay Home, Stay Safe order for all people in Buncombe County. It is imperative that we all comply with the directives of the order, which include no gatherings of any number of people outside of a single household or living unit for any reason and strict guidance to eliminate all non-essential travel, services, or exposure to people outside of your immediate family unit.

At this time, there are a total of 37 lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 cases, including two deaths, in Buncombe County.

10 de abril de 2020. Actualización para la comunidad

Watch the latest briefings from Buncombe County Public Health on the Coronavirus and preparedness efforts in Buncombe County. The community briefing takes place on Monday and Thursday.

April 9, 2020, Community Update-Key Takeaways

  • Updated Case Count as of noon, 37 lab confirmed positive cases in Buncombe County residents
  • One Buncombe Fund has reached nearly $950K, funds are still needed
  • For Stay Home, Stay Safe questions contact the Ready Team at (828) 419-0095, ready@buncombecounty.org, or call 211
  • Harrah’s Cherokee Center is now serving as a shelter for vulnerable populations
  • Stay Home-Stay Safe FAQs-
    • Greenways and Parks: Outdoor activity is considered essential and is encouraged, both for exercise and mental health purposes. But you still have to abide by physical distancing and mass gathering orders. That means no group activities, no carpooling with people outside your immediate household, and keeping 6ft distannce from others. Please observe and adhere to any and all park closures.  Some parks across the city and county are closed due to specific health and safety concerns.
    • Drive-in Services: Religious groups may now conduct drive-in or parking lot services, this previous restriction was relaxed as of this morning when the new order went into effect, however the leaders of these services are responsible for ensuring that their congregants stay inside of their vehicles for the duration of the time spent on the premises and observe the following guidance:
    • Have only individuals from a single household in each vehicle (i.e., no carpooling, use of church buses, no children going from car to car, etc.)
    • Vehicles should be parked 6 feet or more from each other
    • Do not pass anything between vehicles (e.g., communion, offering plates, money, notes, etc.)
    • No physical contact- including handshakes, hugs, or kissing
  • Second Homes, Summer Homes, Vacation Lodging: All Visitors traveling to Buncombe County from outside the state of North Carolina, upon arrival, must quarantine for 14 days at their place of residence BEFORE entering the community. This means you come into Buncombe County and you go straight to your residence. You don’t go to the grocery store, you don’t go to essential retail.  So, you need to have support in place before you arrive to facilitate this quarantine. You need to have a plan for how you will get food and essentials without entering the community.
  • This mandate is posted at the Airport and being announced as flights come in, It has also been passed to our local hotels and homestay networks via Explore Asheville.
  • One point of clarification, this visitor mandate DOES NOT apply to travelers coming to the County on essential business.

April 8, 2020, Community Update-Key Takeaways

  • Updated Case Count as of noon, 37 lab confirmed positive cases in Buncombe County residents
  • New select characteristics data is available
  • Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Chairman Newman signed a new Stay Safe, Stay Home order
  • For questions contact the Ready Team at (828) 419-0095, ready@buncombecounty.org, or call 211

April 6, 2020, Community Update-Key Takeaways

  • Updated case count as of noon, 33 Buncombe County residents test positive
  • County's current Stay Safe, Stay Home declaration will expire on April 9 at 6 a.m. Work is being done to draft a new order that will align more closely with Governor Cooper’s Executive Order, however there will still be some differences. An update will take place on Wednesday, April 8, at 4 p.m.
  • Justice Calvin Hill stated Buncombe County courts will follow extended guidance from Chief Justice Beasley. Learn more at nccourts.gov
  • Visit buncombeready.org and click on the Community Connect link to share information about your home with first responders

April 2, 2020, Community Update-Key Takeaways

  • Updated Case Count as of noon, 31 Buncombe County  residents test positive
  • No new cases in visitors to Buncombe County
  • FAQs on Buncombe County's Stay Safe-Stay Home declaration:
    • Is there a curfew? There is no curfew. The Stay Home-Stay Safe declaration is a standing declaration effective until Thursday April 9. Buncombe County is not taking any actions to disrupt transit or roads- we are only asking people to limit their travel to essential travel only. At this time essential personnel and businesses do not need any credential or pass to be on the roads. 
    • What about in person auto sales? What can be done about enforcing this? This is an area is which our local orders are more restrictive than the Governor’s. In-person auto sales are nonessential until April 9. Auto dealerships can show and sell vehicles virtually, and they may close and complete paperwork in process as long as they are adhering to physical distancing and hygiene guidance. Auto repair and maintenance are essential services. If a dealership has a maintenance and service line on site, that line of operations may continue to operate.
    • How are we enforcing? Law enforcement response to violations of the statute are complaint driven. We do ask that anyone reporting a violation of the local statue do so on NON emergency lines. Please don't call  911 for these purposes. Law enforcement will enforce the order through education, dialogue, and seeking voluntary cooperation from all residents and businesses. If voluntary cooperation is not achieved, Buncombe County Law Enforcement is equipped to enforce these restrictions through citations or misdemeanor charges.
    • What about grocery stores that are not taking measures to ensure social distancing? Grocery stores and any form of food and nutrition delivery are considered essential. We are continuing to reach out to grocery stores with our latest guidance and recommendations. We have encouraged them to consider limiting the amount of people allowed in their stores at once as well as to mark out 6 foot intervals when people are waiting to check out.
    • How are we enforcing Airbnb stays? Over the last few weeks we have had many calls with local business groups, to include AIR, Land of Sky, the Chamber of Commerce, and Explore Asheville to push guidance and answer questions. Among those groups that we’ve been in communication with is the Asheville Homestay Network, which represents a large number of Airbnb and VRBOs in the area. We are currently working with them to clarify and ensure our guidance on short-term rentals under our local Stay Home-Stay Safe declaration.
    • Despite lock-down measures, cases elsewhere have been surging through assisted-care or nursing homes. What more is being done to check in with these facilities and prevent spread? We are  aware of the increased risk for these types of care facilities where the entire population falls into our high-risk category. For months we have been reaching out to them to pass the latest guidance and instruction from the CDC and Public Health. We have dispatched County Fire Marshals to all of these facilities to personally deliver documents and provide guidance. We constantly update our planning efforts for the quickest possible response to any indication of cases at one of these facilities.
    • What about my weekend plans? We know that the weather will be nice over the weekend, but please do not use this as a reason for close contact with anyone outside of your household. Do not go on a raft with 6 people who are not in your household, or load up in a truck and go mountain biking with several of your friends. Get some fresh air but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Please continue to maintain a distance of 6 feet between yourself and others, wash your hands, and try to reduce your exposure as much as possible.

March 30, 2020, Community Update-Key Takeaways

  • Updated Case Count as of noon, 21 Buncombe County  residents test positive
  • No new cases in visitors to Buncombe County
  • 16 residents have recovered from COVID-19 and have been released from isolation
  • First fatality on March 28
  • BC Public Health continues to work proactively with facilities where a potential for positive cases is considered more worrisome due to potential to spread quickly, like long term care facilities, shelters for persons experiencing homelessness, and detention facilities
  • Further clarification on  differences between Gov. Cooper’s Mandate and BC Stay Safe-Stay Home mandate
    • Are auto sales essential? In person auto sales are nonessential until April 9. Auto dealerships can show and sell vehicles virtually, and they may close and complete paperwork in processing as long as they are adhering to physical distancing and hygiene guidance. Auto repair and maintenance are essential services. If an auto dealership has a maintenance and service line on site, that line of operations may continue to operate.
    • Is Realty essential? In person house showing is nonessential until April 9. Realtors can show and sell homes virtually.  They can also continue and complete any vital paperwork or legal processes to continue sales. In general, under the Minimum Business Operations clause, they can also send staff and contractors to houses to maintain and update their virtual inventory.
    • Is Lawn Care essential? Lawn Care may operate under the minimum business operations clause, this means minimal staffing and as long as they are adhering to physical distancing and hygienic requirements. These social distancing requirement include travel to and from a jobsite, on the jobsite, and to lunch and breaks on jobsites. We want to ensure that all Buncombe County residents, whether on essential business or not, maintain their distance at 6ft.
    • Is moving an essential function? Yes, moving is an essential function. If you haven’t yet scheduled your move, and you can delay it, that is recommended, but if not please ensure you are doing your very best to avoid close contact and sanitizing common-touch surfaces. If you are moving to another county or state, or you are moving to Buncombe from another jurisdiction- you need to quarantine yourselves for 2 weeks upon arrival at your new location.
  • Buncombe County, United Way, and Asheville Chamber have formed a partnership to match in-kind donations with community organization needs. Learn more at www.handsonasheville.org

March 27, 2020, Community Update-Key Takeaways

  • Updated Case Count as of noon, 17 Buncombe County  residents test positive
  • No new cases in visitors to Buncombe County
  • 12 residents and all 5 visitors have recovered from COVID-19 and have been released from isolation
  • Further clarification on Stay Safe-Stay Home mandate
  • Emergency Services looking at a regional effort
  • Asheville City and Buncombe County Schools helping students with social and emotional skills
  • Update from MissionHealth
  • One Buncome Relief Fund is launched 

March 26, 2020 Community Update-Key Takeaways

  • Updated Case Count as of noon, 14 Buncombe County  residents test positive
  • 5 cases in visitors to Buncombe County
  • 11 residents and all 5 visitors have recovered from COVID-19 and have been released from isolation
  • Please see the Supplemental Declaration titled Stay Safe-Stay Home to find out if your business is deemed essential or non-essential.
  • Understand the intent of Stay Home-Stay Safe. The point is encourage social distancing to reduce the spread and impact of COVID-19. 

March 25, 2020 Community Update-Key Takeaways

  • Updated case count at 2:30 p.m., 13 Buncombe County residents test positive
  • 5 cases in visitors to the County
  • Board of Commissioners Chairman Newman signs second Supplemental Declaration to Local State of Emergency. This declaration directs all Buncombe County residents to “Stay Home – Stay Safe” and to limit movements outside of their homes that are not deemed essential
  • One Buncombe COVID-19 Rapid Relief Fund set to launch Friday, more information to come.

March 24, 2020 Key Takeaways

  • Updated case count at 2:30 p.m., 12 Buncombe County residents test positive.
  • 4 cases in visitors to the County.
  • Confirmed evidence of community spread. Now is the time to stay home.
  • Public Health continues to investigate models from around the globe and will move forward to add an additional supplement declaration with a Stay Home, Stay Safe Mandate to reduce opportunity for close contact during these next few weeks. Further information will be available Wednesday, March 25.
  • Telemedicine options are available at missionhealth.org
  • Innovation and dynamic responses are also happening in our community, such as virtual town hall and special hours at some grocery stores for vulnerable populations.
  • Further guidance for restaurants providing takeout will be posted by 5 p.m.