Throughout the wake of COVID-19 and practicing social distancing, information and resources will be posted here under “What You Need to Know: COVID-19 in Buncombe County”
As of Wednesday, March 25, there are 13 positive cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County. According to officials, 10 of those patients have already recovered and have been released from health care providers. And the 5 out of state travelers who visited Buncombe County who tested positive for the virus have also recovered and been released.
Since the start of the outbreak in Buncombe County, health care officials have conducted 14 tests, 13 of those tests have come back and one tested positive for the virus. During last week’s community testing sites, over 350 were tested for the virus. In the first two days, 256 people were tested, 5 of those tests came back positive. On the last day of testing 100 more tests were given; those results are still pending but are expected soon.
Over 700 other tests have been conducted by other health care providers in Buncombe County since the start of the outbreak – the Buncombe Health Department will be notified of positive tests as they come.
On March 25, Buncombe County issued a “Stay Home – Stay Safe” Supplemental Declaration that will go into effect Thursday, March 26, 2020, at 8 pm and will be valid through Thursday, April 9, 2020, at 6 am but will be regularly monitored and evaluated which may lead to revision, amendment or extension.
All current Buncombe County residents, including Woodfin, Black Mountain, Weaverville, Biltmore Forest, Montreat and Asheville citizens, are ordered to stay in place at their residence and to limit movements outside of their homes that are not deemed essential. Only those lines and/or business operations that are necessary to support the essential services, supplies, or support are exempt from the restrictions.
The intent of the declaration is to further minimize all opportunities for exposure and transmission of COVID-19 across the jurisdiction.
The declaration states that:
- All non-essential businesses must cease.
- Essential businesses must still comply with the social distancing guidelines; 6 feet apart and takeout, delivery and/or drive-through only.
- If you work in Buncombe County, then your business/employer must comply with this order.
- You are allowed to travel through Buncombe County and conduct essential activities within Buncombe County and to return home.
- Religious services must only meet via video or telecom; there must be less than 10 people at the establishment to perform the service.
- All elective medical procedures have been prohibited in Buncombe County.
- You are allowed to travel for purposes of essential business and essential activities
- While engaging in outdoor activities remember to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from all others.
- The houseless are exempt from this restriction but are urged to find shelter.
- Essential businesses or entities, including any for-profit or non-profit, regardless of the nature of the service, the function they perform, or it’s corporate or entity structure, are not subject to these restrictions.
- Essential Businesses must continue to comply with the guidance and directives for maintaining a clean and safe work environment issued by the Department of Health i.e. social distancing and sanitation practices.
- Skilled trades such as electricians, plumbers and other related construction firms and professionals for essential infrastructure, including public works, roads and bridges, or for emergency repair and safety purposes, are also exempt from the declaration.
Under a “Stay Home” declaration, residents can still perform essential services and conduct essential travel. To review what Buncombe County Citizens can do and should not do, what consists of essential and non-essential travel and what businesses are deemed essential vs. non-essential visit the Buncombe County website.
Buncombe County residents CAN:
- Go to the grocery and convenience store
- Go to the pharmacy to pick up medications and healthcare necessities
- Visit a health care facility for medical services that cannot be provided virtually (call first!)
- Go to a restaurant, for take-out, delivery, or drive-thru service only
- Care for or support a friend, family member, or pet
- Take a walk, ride your bike, hike, jog (as long as social distancing measures are maintained)
- Walk your pets and take them to the veterinarian
- Help others to get necessary supplies
- Receive deliveries from any business that delivers
Buncombe County residents SHOULD NOT:
- Go out at all if they are sick
- Go to work, unless providing essential services as defined by this order
- Visit friends and family if there is no specific, urgent need
- Be closer than 6 feet from others if out in public
- Visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skill nursing facilities, or other residential care facilities, except for limited exceptions as provided by the specific facility
- Travel, except for essential travel and activities.
- Engage in door-to-door solicitation
- Engage in public or private social gatherings (any amount of people)
- For health and safety
- To get necessary supplies and services
- For outdoor activities (walking, hiking, golfing, running, cycling, using greenways)
- For work for essential businesses/operations
- To take care of others
- Any travel related to the provision of or access to essential activities, essential governmental functions, essential businesses and operations, or minimum basic operations.
- Travel to care for the elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons
- Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and other related services
- Travel to return to a place of residence from outside the jurisdiction
- Travel required by law enforcement or court order, including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement
- Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the County. Individuals are strongly encouraged to verify that their transportation out of the County remains available and functional prior to commencing such travel
Essential Health Care Operations:
- Research and laboratory services
- Walk-in-care health facilities
- Emergency veterinary and livestock services
- Medical wholesale and distribution
- Home health care workers or aides for the elderly
- Doctor and emergency dental
- Nursing homes, or residential health care facilities or congregate care facilities
- Medical supplies and equipment manufacturers and providers
- Blood drive and blood collection sites
- Utilities including power generation, fuel supply and transmission
- Public water and wastewater
- Telecommunications and data centers
- Transportation infrastructure such as roads, bus, rail, or for-hire vehicles, garages
- Hotels and places of accommodation
- Food processing, manufacturing agents, including all foods and beverages
- Medical equipment/instruments
- Sanitary products
- Household paper products
- Grocery stores including all food and beverage stores
- Convenience stores
- Farmer’s markets
- Gas stations
- Restaurants/bars (but only for take-out/delivery)
- Hardware and building material stores
- Trash and recycling collection, processing and disposal
- Mail and shipping services
- Building cleaning and maintenance
- Child care services
- Auto repair
- Warehouse/distribution and fulfillment
- Funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries
- Storage for essential businesses
- Animal shelters
- News Media
- Notary public
- Services related to financial markets
- Technology support for online services
- Child care programs and services
- Government-owned or leased buildings
- Essential government services
Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations are also exempt from this declaration, including:
- Homeless shelters and congregate care facilities
- Food banks
- Human services providers whose function includes the direct care of patients in state-licensed or funded voluntary programs; the care, protection, custody and oversight of individuals both in the community and in state-licensed residential facilities; those operating community shelters and other critical human services agencies providing direct care or support
Essential Services Necessary to Maintain the Safety, Sanitation and Essential Operations of Residences or Other Essential Businesses, including:
- Defense and national security-related operations supporting the U.S. Government or a contractor to the US government, to include the Defense Industry Base’s (DIB) Essential Critical Infrastructure
- Law enforcement
- Fire prevention and response
- Building code enforcement
- Emergency management and response
- Building cleaners or janitors
- General maintenance whether employed by the entity directly or a vendor
- Automotive repair
If the function of your business is not covered above, but you believe that it is essential or it is an entity providing essential services or functions, you may request designation as an essential business from Buncombe County Government. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the email, provide the following:
- Business Name
- Email address
- Phone number
- Mailing address
- Nature of their business and why they should be deemed essential
- Business website address
Please be aware that this is a new process and Buncombe County is experiencing a high volume of requests, so the response could be delayed. Requests by businesses to be designated an essential function as described above should only be made if they are NOT covered by the guidance.
To help support businesses and employees who are struggling during the COVID-19 crisis, Asheville Grown Business Alliance has created a COVID-19 Resources page with helpful links along with a community-sourced list of FAQ’s. The page will be updated as frequently as possible.
The Blue Ridge Humane Society is offering several resources and services to pet owners during the COVID-19 pandemic. BRHS seeks to not only find new loving homes for pets in need, but also help keep pets with their owners, according to a news release from BRHS. Pet owners are encouraged to reach out to BRHS if they are in need.
While the humane society’s adoption center is closed to the public, those interested in adopting a pet can fill out an application online and will be contacted to complete an advising session over the phone. After that, a meeting time can be scheduled. A list of adoptable pets can be found at www.blueridgehumane.org/adopt/.
Foster homes are also needed for the animals. For more information on fostering and to apply, go to www.blueridgehumane.org/get-involved/foster/.
The following programs, resources, and support are in place to assist the public pet owners as funds and staffing allow:
Pet Helpline: For concerns about keeping a pet, vet assistance, litter box problems, housing issues, dog training tips, stray neighborhood cats, suspected abuse/neglect and more, call 828-393-5832. Leave a message and BRHS staff will get back in touch.
Behavior questions can also be submitted online for the BRHS Training and Behavior Manager to offer assistance with at www.blueridgehumane.org/community-services/helpline/.
Community pet food assistance: BRHS is partnering with local food banks to help supply litter, pet food and treats to clients. o find a list of participating banks visit blueridgehumane.org/community-services/community-pet-food
Emergency vet assistance: Though BRHS is not able to assist with existing medical bills they are offering Emergency Veterinary Assistance in times of economic distress. BRHS is providing medical vouchers to help with emergency veterinary visits prior to the visit.
For more information or to find out if you qualify, call 828-393-5832. Delays may be experienced on holidays. Listings of additional assistance groups can be found at www.blueridgehumane.org/community-services/emergency-vet-assistance/.
BRHS Lost and Found Pet Facebook group: Join the BRHS Lost and Found Pet Facebook group by searching for Blue Ridge Humane on Facebook and going under groups. This group allows people to not only post if a lost pet but also helps reunite any pets someone may find that have become separated from their families and keep pets in a temporary loving home while waiting to be reunited with their owner.
Re-Homing: For owners that have found themselves in the unfortunate situation of having to find a new home for their pet, BRHS urges them to try re-homing. This takes the load off the local animal shelter and keeps the animal out of a shelter environment, allowing limited resources to be used for other animals like stays or abuse cases.
BRHS has partnered with Adopt-a-Pet.com to provide a courtesy re-homing listing for those who would like to find a loving home for a pet without surrendering them to an animal shelter. For those considering adopting, check the re-homing listing as well as the local shelter.
Access to the re-homing page can be found at www.blueridgehumane.org/community-services/pet-re-homing-listing/.
For additional information about the humane society or to make a donation, go to www.blueridgehumane.org or call 828-692-2639.