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 11 a.m. April 30, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services tallied 10,509 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19. That’s up 561 cases since the April 29 numbers were released.
In Buncombe County, lab-confirmed cases increased 14.5% overnight for a total of 63, according to NCDHHS’s official count.
There have been four deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Buncombe County, while statewide deaths rose 6.8% today for a total of 378.
When will NC reopen?
At a press conference, April 23 Governor Roy Cooper extended the Stay-at-home order through Friday, May 8, more than a week beyond its previous expiration of Wednesday, April 29.
“It’s important to get our economy moving forward. We’re helping with unemployment payments, stimulus money and the businesses that continue to be open,” Cooper said. “But I won’t risk the health of our people or our hospitals. And easing these restrictions now would do that.”
He also provided a detailed plan outlining three phases of how North Carolina might reopen once May 8 had passed. Restrictions would be progressively lifted over three phases, each lasting multiple weeks, dependent on COVID-19 trends.
But first, the state must meet certain benchmarks for the state to enter the first phase of eased restrictions, such as:
- Increase daily testing from 2,500-3,000 people per day to 5,000-7,000 per day.
- Contract tracers — double staff statewide from 250 to 500.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) — adequate supplies to fill requests for at least 30 days.
- A downward trajectory of COVID-like syndromic cases for 14 days.
- The number of additional cases must decrease or show sustained leveling for 14 days.
- A downward trajectory of positive tests as a percentage of total tests over 14 days.
- Stay-at-home order remains in place, but people can leave home for more commercial activities (including shopping at certain retail stores).
- Retailers and services will need to implement social distancing, cleaning and other protocols.
- Gatherings limited to no more than 10 people.
- Parks can open, subject to gathering limits.
- Face coverings recommended in public.
- Restrictions remain in place for nursing homes and other congregate living settings.
- Continued teleworking encouraged.
Phase 2 – can only begin 2-3 weeks after Phase 1 begins
- Stay-at-home order lifted with strong encouragement for vulnerable populations to continue staying at home.
- Limited opening of restaurants, bars and other businesses that can follow strict safety protocols while operating at reduced capacity.
- Houses of worship and entertainment venues can host gatherings at reduced capacity.
- The number of people allowed at gatherings increased.
- Public playgrounds reopen.
- Rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and congregant care settings.
Phase 3 – can only begin 4-6 weeks after Phase 2 begins
- Guidance for vulnerable populations loosened.
- Restaurants, bars, houses of worship and other businesses can increase capacity.
- The number of people allowed at gatherings further increased.
At an April 30 community briefing, the Buncombe Board of Commissioners Chairman Brownie Newman signed a new “stay home” declaration that will override the previous one and more closely align the county’s order with that of the state.
The order will go into effect May 1 at 6 am and does not yet have an end date.
Public Health preparedness director Fletcher Tove said the order will enable Buncombe to “move forward in lockstep” with North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The biggest take-aways:
- The biggest immediate change the measure makes is that it allows gatherings of groups of up to 10 people. Those gathered must still adhere to social distancing restrictions and maintain six feet of separation between individuals. The order strongly recommends the use of cloth face coverings in public settings.
- The order does not allow nonessential businesses to reopen. It is still prohibits lodging facilities from taking leisure travel reservations and limits funerals to 10 people or fewer.
- People coming to Buncombe from outside the state must still quarantine at their residence for 14 days before entering the community.
To review the document in full click here.
NC hiring more than 250 contract tracers across the state:
As part of the Carolina Community Tracing Collaborative, officials announced Monday that North Carolina will hire as many as 250 contact tracers to map the spread of COVID-19 across the state. Special consideration will be given to applicants who are unemployed.
Officials are requiring applicants to have:
- A high school diploma (or the equivalent)
- The ability to speak
- Read and write in English
- A laptop with an internet connection
- A car
Prospective contact tracers must be willing to go into the community to interview hard-to-reach contacts and should expect to travel within their designated region.
Recruitment for these positions began April 27, Cohen said.
To apply click here.
COVID-19 IN Western North Carolina:
- Buncombe County: 68 cases, 34 reported recoveries, 4 deaths
- Cherokee County: 23 cases, 1 death
- Clay County: 6 cases (5 have recovered so far.)
- Graham County: 2 cases
- Haywood County: 10 cases (3 cases have recovered.)
- Henderson County: 192 cases, 20 deaths
- Jackson County: 17 cases in full-time residents, 2 cases in part-time residents and 13 cases in non-residents.
- Macon County: 3 cases reported, including 1 recovery and 1 death, as of April 17
- Madison County: 1 case
- McDowell County: 25 cases, 1 death (17 are out of quarantine.)
- Mitchell County: 5 cases (1 recovery)
- Polk County: 20 cases
- Rutherford County: 139 cases, 6 deaths (33 are out of quarantine.)
- Swain County: 3 cases
- Transylvania County: 7 cases