This is the first in a series where we look at the diverse methods our EOC is using to meet real needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since news of the COVID-19 outbreak, Buncombe County officials have taken guidance from experts in the medical and scientific communities and treated this as a public health crisis. On March 12, Buncombe County proactively declared a state of emergency and put weeks’ worth of logistical planning into action by opening its emergency operations center (EOC). Since then, a collaboration of governments, nonprofits, school systems, and other stakeholders have been diligently and innovatively looking at ways to address myriad community needs stemming from COVID-19.
Below are some of the resources our EOC has developed and ways you can learn more about those programs.
Business continuity: Planning resources for the present and future of locally owned businesses
Small businesses are an integral part of Buncombe County’s economy. As such, our EOC’s Small Business Response Team has been in touch with the small business community from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic discussing how executive orders affect operations, ways to provide relief for establishments and their employees, and other emerging issues.
The Small Business Response Team spearheads a weekly call to check in with business leaders, the City of Asheville, Chamber of Commerce, Land of Sky, and others to continue to identify problems and collaborate on solutions. In direct response to various issues identified through these efforts, we partnered to create the One Buncombe Fund which is providing immediate relief to COVID-affected unemployed by helping pay rent, mortgages, bills, and other expenses. It also provides low-interest loans for small businesses and has raised more than $1 million in donations.
The EOC Small Business Response Team continues to analyze updated economic indicators, evaluate the reach of the One Buncombe Fund, and is looking for more connections in the supply and demand chain, especially concerning PPE (personal protection equipment).
For information about the One Buncombe Fund and other resources visit:
Isolation and quarantine housing: Caring for those with limited space or lack of access to space
Due to multiple reasons, not all members of our community can isolate or quarantine from home. Environmental Health Manager Jessica Silver used her department’s existing familiarity with the lodging industry to secure safe housing. “Quarantine housing is provided for members of our community who are either confirmed to have COVID-19 or who are close contacts of known patients when they cannot shelter at home,” explains Silver. “Providing temporary housing options keeps community members safe while reducing the spread of COVID-19.” Our lodging partners are also offering reduced prices for health care workers to access these rooms.
Thanks to the work of Environmental Health and multiple community partners, Buncombe County can provide safe locations for isolation and quarantine housing for vulnerable people. If you would like more information, call (828) 250-5109.