COVID-19 long-haulers struggle to reclaim their lives

Research from China, Italy and the United States indicates that anywhere from 50% to 80% of those who contract COVID-19 still experience symptoms of what’s come to be called “long COVID” many months after the initial infection with the virus. Xpress talks to patients and health care providers to understand how the phenomenon is affecting lives in Western North Carolina.

Cooper urges all K-12 schools to reopen for in-person learning

New policies from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction recommend all elementary schools open for in-person learning under Plan A, which does not require 6-foot social distancing between students and teachers. Middle and high schools are encouraged to reopen in-person under Plan B, which requires 6-foot social distancing at all times.

Danielle Keeter, co-owner of Mighty Gnome Market Garden

SNAP incentives boost market sales for local farmers

Market managers and vendors at the markets participating in the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s Double SNAP initiative, which matches Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits dollar-for-dollar on edible items, saw SNAP transactions nearly triple from 2019 to 2020, and 80% of responding vendors said they’d experienced sales growth due to the program.

Richard Houck, Fred Jones and José McLoughlin

Wellness in brief: Dogwood Health Trust shifts board makeup

Retired Rear Adm. Richard Houck of Transylvania County, attorney Fred Jones of Macon County and Bishop José McLoughlin of Henderson County will join the board of Western North Carolina’s largest nonprofit as Buncombe County’s Dr. John Ball departs. The change fulfills requirements stipulated in N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein’s approval of Mission Health’s sale to HCA Healthcare.

With interest in birth centers soaring, local facility struggles to cover costs

When Emma Strickland learned she was pregnant with her second child, she started looking for an alternative to a hospital birth. She found it at the WNC Birth Center. The center is open during the COVID pandemic but has had to scale back on some of its related services. Ironically, that’s led to a shortage of income at a time when women like Strickland find themselves increasingly drawn to a birth center.

Employee at COVID-19 vaccination site

Buncombe health staff address commission­ers’ COVID-19 concerns

“We recognize that it’s not a perfect system and the demand is quite high,” said Stacie Saunders, Buncombe County’s public health director, at a Jan. 12 special meeting called to address local vaccination efforts. “We just want to reiterate that we will not have sufficient supply of vaccine for a very long time, so it is likely that we will still hear frustration and concerns about being able to get an appointment.”