Lenny Pettinelli

Getting unemployme­nt benefits another challenge for gig economy workers

Like most states, North Carolina was unprepared when unemployment claims skyrocketed as COVID-19 cases shut down large swaths of the state’s economy. When the crisis began, no benefits were available to those who didn’t previously work in a traditional job. That changed recently, so Xpress talked with locals who make their living in the gig economy about the experience of seeking newly available funds through the state Division of Employment Security. Spoiler alert: It hasn’t always gone smoothly.

Mission Hospital main entrance

Mission Health resumes elective procedures­, maintains visitor restrictio­ns

To date, 34 patients with COVID-19 have visited a Mission facility for treatment, said Dr. William Hathaway, the system’s chief medical officer, during a May 11 press conference. Two individuals with the coronavirus are currently receiving care at Mission, which he said has sufficient capacity of ventilators, personal protective equipment and intensive care beds.

View from Craggy Pinnacle

Green in brief: Buncombe backs Craggy scenic designatio­n, Duke releases net-zero carbon report

At an April 21 meeting, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners lent their unanimous support to designating 16,000 acres of the Pisgah National Forest in the county’s northeast as the Craggy Mountain Wilderness and National Scenic Area. And on April 28, Duke Energy unveiled the most detailed public explanation to date of how company leaders are thinking about the longer-term future.

Biz in brief: Buncombe TDA grants, Salute to Small Business Week

Local businesses are bringing creativity to bear on pandemic-related closures and plans for business revitalization following the end of restrictions. They could get some help: Sen. Chuck Edwards of Hendersonville announced he will introduce legislation to the N.C. General Assembly to allow the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority to make grants to tourism businesses to support their reopening.

Mission nurses advocate for PPE, training

Under the watchful eye of Mission Hospital security, several nurses involved with the push to unionize their colleagues demonstrated during the 6 p.m. shift change on April 9. Their signs and conversations with other staff members questioned the availability of personal protective equipment and training to deal with the COVID-19 threat — and how a union might increase their safety.

Roy Cooper at COVID-19 press briefing

Cooper mandates social distancing in retail stores

The new executive order, effective 5 p.m. on Monday, April 13, limits shoppers to 20% of a store’s permitted fire capacity or five customers per 1,000 square feet. High-volume locations such as checkouts must mark six-foot spaces to ensure social distancing in customer lines, and all stores must conduct “frequent and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas.”