Brevard Music Center pivots to provide COVID-19 testing and vaccinations

Press release from Brevard Music Center:

This Friday, January 29, Brevard Music Center (BMC) will perform something a little out of the ordinary for a regional audience of hundreds of citizens. BMC will host Covid vaccinations for 400 area residents and has pledged to continue Covid testing and vaccinations for the general public as long as they are needed.

In April 2020, the Music Center canceled its annual Summer Music Institute and Festival early, well before being informed by government officials that it would be necessary. The Music Center’s first priority was keeping students, audiences, staff, faculty and the local community safe. BMC made a commitment to its 15 full-time staff members to keep them on payroll and to maintain their full benefits including healthcare. This was long before any announcement of PPP reimbursement. The Music Center would go on to lose $4M revenue out of the $6M budgeted for the 2020 season. Ordinarily, Brevard Music Center’s Summer Festival audiences attend nearly 100 performances and events over ten weeks during the summer season.  The overall attendance for the Summer Festival regularly exceeds 40,000 in a town with a population of 8,000.

By late June, the Music Center realized that people without insurance were being turned away from Covid testing at other local urgent care facilities unless they paid approximately $200.  Brevard Music Center, with the help of Pisgah Health Foundation, was put in touch with Keystone Labs in Asheville.

Through a partnership with Keystone, the Music Center set up “BMC Free Drive-Thru Testing” in mid-July for those without insurance. Within one week, this effort expanded to all citizens, including those with Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance, in addition to the uninsured.  As of today, BMC is still the only place in Transylvania County where the asymptomatic can get tested. No physician referral is required.

Over the past 26 weeks and as of January 14, BMC has performed 2,911 Covid-19 tests and has identified 161 positive outcomes.  Almost all of these positives came from asymptomatic persons who could then quarantine and protect their families, their co-workers, and others in the community, as they go about their business thus helping to reduce the spread of the virus.  BMC’s efforts represent approximately 22% of all testing in Transylvania County since the beginning of the pandemic. Results are immediately and directly sent to the county health department, providing faster information that can facilitate contact tracing and provide an early “heads up” on positivity rates.

This January, Brevard Music Center, in coordination with the Transylvania County Health Department, partnered with Blue Ridge Health, who recently attained a strategic supply of vaccines. BMC Free Drive Thru Vaccinations began with a “dry run” of 50 vaccinations of healthcare workers on Tuesday, January 19. On Friday, January 22, over 200 vaccines were administered to the general public aged 65 and over. The next Free Drive Thru Vaccinations day is Friday, January 29, during which 400 vaccinations will take place.

“The Brevard Music Center is thankful to be in a position to help our community in a time of need,” said Mark Weinstein, BMC President & CEO.  “While we have not been able to perform beautiful music in person, we can assist in helping our community by providing free and accessible testing and vaccinations during this state of emergency. We are all in this together.”

While BMC will continue testing and vaccinations in the weeks and months ahead, the Music Center is already planning a safe reopening this summer to share its mission of training the most talented and dedicated classical music students from across America and around the world. And it expects to continue providing outstanding performances throughout a new 2021 Summer Music Festival season.

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