March 19 Updates on COVID-19 in Asheville (According to a post created by Jasmine Beach Ferrera on Asheville Politics) –
1) Our school systems have delivered more than 10,000 free meals in two days – tremendous leadership and effort have gone into making this possible. School Social Workers are also staffing food pick up locations to support families around other needs.
2) Almost 200 people have been tested for COVID-19 at the county’s new drive through testing sites (Biltmore Church and UNC-A). Thank you to everyone who has led this effort. This ramp up of testing means that in 3-4 days, a lot of people will be getting results and can get the care they need. We’ll also know more about the current status of COVID-19 in Buncombe County at that time: https://www.buncombecounty.org/countycenter/news-detail.aspx?id=18547
3) More people in our community are going to need help as we start to feel the secondary economic impacts. For a current list of resources and services (e.g. unemployment benefits, public assistance), go to this county page: https://www.buncombecounty.org/countycenter/news-detail.aspx?id=18552.
Also, please remember, water and power will not be cut off and you cannot be evicted at this time.
4) The county is preparing an order to mandate the closure of gyms, spas, and pools, expected to be finalized tomorrow. This is the next step in social distancing and mitigation efforts to flatten the curve. Any place where people are congregating is increasing the risk of transmission and although each of these decisions is tough, it is the right thing to do to protect community health.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 97 cases of COVID-19 statewide as of March 19, an increase of 34 from the day before. Cases closest to Buncombe are in Watauga and Lincoln counties. The department updates the number once daily.
Here’s the latest on the impact to Asheville, Buncombe County and WNC:
state officials said they are not ruling out a shelter-in-place order, now consider pregnant women a high-risk group and are not sure how many people infected with the virus have been hospitalized.
the American Red Cross is reporting a severe shortage of blood due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Healthy individuals are urged to donate blood. If you have traveled overseas, you should wait 28 days following said travel to donate. People who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or who have had contact with anyone with a suspected or confirmed case, also cannot donate blood at this time.
all restaurants and bars in North Carolina must limit operations to take-out and delivery only. This went into effect at 5 p.m. March 17.
Buncombe County Health and Human Services is now operating two drive-through COVID-19 testing sites at Biltmore Church (35 Clayton Road, Arden) and UNC Asheville Campus (in parking lot P28 on University Heights off W.T. Weaver Boulevard).
BCDHHS said in an email the sites will operate 2-6 p.m. on March 18.
Testing is available to all members of the community, regardless of income or ability to pay.
Tests will be done on those who:
- Have a fever combined with either a cough or shortness of breath or
- Have contact with someone with known COVID-19 and are experiencing any of the symptoms: fever, cough or shortness of breath.
The sites opened March 17 and will operate weekdays based on the availability of supplies.
Blood donors are urgently needed!
The American Red Cross is reporting a severe shortage of blood due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during the coronavirus outbreak. Healthy individuals are urged to donate blood, though overseas travelers should wait 28 days following travel to donate. People who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or who have had contact with anyone with a suspected or confirmed case, also cannot donate blood at this time.
Grocery stores across WNC are changing their hours to implement new cleaning procedures, protect the safety of their employees and give seniors a safer time to shop. The Citizen-Times created a master list of each chain’s policies:
Ingles: All stores close at 10 p.m., with 24-hour stores opening at 6 a.m.
- Starbucks locations are open, but close at 8 p.m.
- Staff will use the additional time to clean and stock.
- Freeman said management is considering offering special hours for seniors.
Publix: As of March 17, all Publix locations are open 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
- Effective March 24, Publix will designate Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, 7-8 a.m., as hours for customers aged 65 and older. The pharmacy will also be open to seniors at that time.
Harris Teeter: Stores close at 9 p.m. nightly for cleaning and restocking.
French Broad Food Co-op: Open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. until further notice, giving employees time to clean and stock.
Whole Foods Markets: Whole Foods stores nationwide will allow customers aged 60 and older to enter one hour before stores regularly open to the general public.
- Whole Foods will close up to two hours early to give employees more time to restock shelves, sanitize stores and rest.
- Stores will remain open for pickup and to fulfill Prime delivery orders.
Prime delivery has been greatly delayed, but there’s a plan for that, said a Whole Foods spokeswoman in an email. She said the company plans to hire 100,000 full- and part-time positions across the fulfillment and delivery network.