WNC responds to COVID-19 concerns

Coronavirus visualization
Graphic courtesy of the CDC

Last updated March 17 at 8 p.m.

Due to the rapidly evolving nature of Western North Carolina’s response to COVID-19 — as well as the comprehensive closures and gathering limitations announced by Gov. Roy Cooper, Buncombe County and the city of Asheville — Xpress will no longer be updating this post with notices from individual organizations.

Instead, Xpress plans to provide daily roundup coverage of the most important developments on weekdays until further notice. The first such post, recording the events of March 17, is available here.

COVID-19 testing

  • Buncombe County Health and Human Services will begin operating two drive through COVID-19 testing sites, starting Tuesday, March 17. Testing sites will be located at Biltmore Church in Arden and at UNC Asheville off of W.T. Weaver Boulevard. The sites will be open March 17 from 1-6 p.m. Based on the availability of testing supplies, the sites will continue to operate throughout the week from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. each day.
  • Pardee UNC Heath and the Henderson County Department of Public Health are offering drive-thru COVID-19 screening at Blue Ridge Community College. The site is available 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; patients are encouraged to call the Pardee COVID-19 Helpline at 828-694-8048 to determine if their symptoms qualify for testing before going to the site.


  • Announcements from N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper:
    • Tuesday, March 17: A new executive order mandates all dine-in service at NC restaurants and bars to close at 5 p.m. The executive order will also include an expansion of unemployment insurance to help North Carolina workers affected by COVID-19.
    • Sunday, March 14, 4:30 p.m.: All public schools in the state will close for a minimum of two weeks beginning Monday, March 16. Cooper also made his previous guidance that all events over 100 people be canceled mandatory.
  • Buncombe County and the city of Asheville declared states of emergency on March 12.
  • Haywood County declared a state of emergency on March 15.
  • Asheville City Manager Debra Campbell announced that Asheville City Hall and other municipal buildings will be closed to the public, starting March 17.
  • Buncombe County will close all nonessential, public-facing functions (including public libraries and parks), effective March 18. Essential operations including Emergency Services, Public Health and Health and Human Services mandated services, Sheriff’s Office, Permitting, Solid Waste, and Transportation will continue.
  • The public lobby of the Buncombe County Detention Facility is closed, and only essential staff may enter. The Magistrates’ Office lobby and City County Identification Bureau will still be open to the public.
  • The City of Hendersonville has suspended all utility disconnects for nonpayment and is suspending all non-essential visits to city facilities.
  • The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners pre-meeting at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, has been canceled.
  • All City of Asheville advisory boards and commissions meetings, including electronic and phone-based meetings, are cancelled until further notice.

Higher education

  • Warren Wilson College has announced an alternative scheduling plan from Friday, March 13 until Friday, April 10.
  • UNC Asheville extended Spring Break through Sunday, March 22. When classes resume Monday, March 23, instruction will transition to remote delivery through at least Monday, April 6. Residence halls will remain open, but students are encouraged to remain off campus. University events of more than 50 people are canceled. Visiting speaker events will be canceled or postponed. More information is on the university’s website.
  • A-B Tech will extend its spring break, scheduled to take place March 16-20, through Friday, March 27. Classes will resume online and virtually on Monday, March 30. The college will then reassess instruction delivery on a weekly basis.
  • Lenoir-Rhyne University has canceled or postponed all public events through Sunday, March 29.
  • Mars Hill University will move its face-to-face classes to online and remote learning for at least two weeks, beginning Monday, March 23. A decision on classes beyond that time will be made on or before April 3. Classes which already are delivered online will continue as scheduled. The physical campus will be closed at least through Friday, April 3. A few university offices will remain open, but most will not be staffed in-person, as employees will work remotely.


  • All group classes offered by Mountain BizWorks will transition to online-only participation from at least Monday, March 16, through Monday, March 30.
  • Asheville School of Film will hold its classes via live online video conferencing.
  • The Collider is postponing all public events through the end of March.

Arts and entertainment

Museums and parks

  • The WNC Nature Center is closed until further notice by order of the city of Asheville.
  • Grandfather Mountain closed March 15 for two weeks.
  • Biltmore announced it will suspend tours of Biltmore House; Estate restaurants; shops and restaurants adjacent to the Biltmore House complex; Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, located at Amherst; estate trolleys, with the exception of ADA assistance shuttles and Deerpark Restaurant March 17-31. Estate gardens and grounds will remain open, as will take-out dining options in Antler Hill Village.
  • AMOS, the Asheville Museum of Science, closed Sunday, March 15-Friday, March 27, at which time the museum’s leadership will evaluate the situation.
  • The N.C. Arboretum has suspended all classes and programs, as well closed its gift shop and bistro, through the end of April.
  • The Moogseum is closing until Tuesday, May 31.


Food and community

  • The Asheville City Market hosted by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project is closed until further notice.
  • The Asheville Chamber of Commerce has suspended all face-to-face meetings and events through Tuesday, April 7.
  • Tryon International Equestrian Center canceled equestrian competitions beginning March 14; Tryon Resort restaurants and lodging facilities remain open.
  • The Buncombe County Democratic Party closed its headquarters at 951 Old Fairview Road until May 1 and asked volunteers to cancel tabling, canvassing and other in-person campaign activities.
  • Bounty & Soul will host drive-through sites for participants to pick up food boxes on Tuesdays at St. James Episcopal Church parking lot, 424 W. State St., Black Mountain, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and Fridays at Black Mountain Presbyterian Church parking lot, 117 Montreat Road, 4-6 p.m. Please do not arrive at the site prior to scheduled times. All classes, children’s activities and after-school programming is canceled until further notice.
  • All YMCA of WNC centers will close to the public for at least two weeks beginning Monday, March 16. All YMCA programs, including wellness programs, youth sports and swim lessons, are also suspended.
  • All YWCA facilities besides childcare centers will be closed to the public at 9 p.m. on March 16. YWCA Childcare will close at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17.
  • The Market Place in downtown Asheville will close through at least Monday, March 30.
  • The Blue Ridge Humane Society is suspending all outreach and community programs through Tuesday, March 31. Its animal adoption center will be open by appointment only.
  • Green Opportunities is closing its offices until further notice but will continue no-contact case management and student support on an as-needed basis.

Health care

  • Beginning Monday, March 16, the main entrance at the Charles George VA Medical Center will be closed to all incoming traffic. Traffic will be directed to the Arnold Road entrance, across from the former Shell Station. Veterans and visitors will complete a screening while remaining in their vehicles prior to entering the building. Visitor restrictions continue, with one visitor per veteran, visitors must be over age 12 and no visitors may enter the Community Living Center.
  • Western North Carolina AIDS Project closed its Asheville and Franklin offices but will continue to provide case management services remotely and no-contact syringe services onsite.
  • Appalachia Guild of Healing Arts announced its 12 1/2 Wall St. office would close and that it is encouraging all of its massage practitioners to remain at home.
  • The Irene Wortham Center has closed its Early Learning Center and Adult Day Activity Center through Sunday, March 29. Visitors and volunteers will not be permitted at the center’s three residential homes through the same period.

Tuesday, March 17

Wednesday, March 18

Thursday, March 19

Friday, March 20

Saturday, March 21

  • Rotarians Against Hunger, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • “Under the Influence” Masterworks Concert at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, Asheville Symphony
  • Get in Gear Fest, Salvage Station
  • Jeff Dunham: Seriously!?, Harrah’s Cherokee Center — Asheville
  • Hendersonville Bridal Show, Blue Ridge Community College
  • Motown for Our Town, Homeward Bound WNC

Sunday, March 22

Tuesday, March 24

Wednesday, March 25

Thursday, March 26

Friday, March 27

Saturday, March 28

  • Planned Parenthood South Atlantic’s Nasty Woman and Bad Hombre art exhibit, 5-9 p.m.
  • ART Party 2020 at the Asheville Art Museum
  • Hendersonville Symphony performance, Hendersonville
  • Historic African American Cemetery Workshop hosted by the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and the South Asheville Cemetery Association, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Sunday, March 29

Monday, March 30

Tuesday, March 31

Wednesday, April 1

Thursday, April 2

Friday, April 3

Thursday, April 4

Friday, April 3

Wednesday, April 8

Thursday, April 16

Saturday, April 25


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Mountain Xpress posts selected news and information of local interest as a public service for our readers. To submit press releases and other community material for possible publication, email news@mountainx.com.

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