County readies stay-at-home mandate for March 25

Buncombe County seal

The strongest level of emergency response to COVID-19 yet is soon set to go into place throughout Buncombe County. At a March 24 press conference, Fletcher Tove, the county’s emergency preparedness coordinator, said public health staff were finalizing a new supplemental state of emergency declaration that would mandate a “stay home, stay safe” approach to fighting the spread of the disease.

Although Tove said exact details were still being worked out, he noted that the declaration would further limit mass gatherings, expand business closures and restrict nonessential travel. He said the measures were needed in part because there were still “businesses, venues and individuals who are not taking this pandemic seriously.”

Tove said that further information would be available Wednesday, March 25, but Brownie Newman, chair of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, indicated in a Facebook post that he expected to enact the order on that date as well. “The basic message is simple,” Newman said. “Except for people who work in certain essential sectors, everyone should stay home.”

State receives medical supplies from national stockpile

Earlier on March 24, Mike Sprayberry, North Carolina’s director of emergency management, said the state had received its second shipment of personal protective equipment from the Strategic National Stockpile. He said five large trucks with masks, gloves, gowns and other items had been processed by members of the N.C. National Guard and distributed to medical facilities throughout the state.

In response to a reporter’s question, Sprayberry acknowledged that the state still didn’t have enough personal protective equipment to outfit health care workers in the face of global shortages due to COVID-19. “We know we don’t have as much as we need, but we are working to get as much as we can,” he said.

Sprayberry said his team was working to secure more supplies on the private market and that Gov. Roy Cooper had personally appealed to both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to make more supplies available. He added that private citizens could also donate supplies and should email beoc@ncdps.gov for further information.

In other news

  • State Reps. Susan Fisher and Brian Turner, whose Districts 114 and 116 represent northwest and southwest Buncombe County, respectively, were named to the N.C. House Select Committee on COVID-19. Fisher was additionally appointed to the committee’s Education Work Group, while Turner will be part of the Economic Support Work Group. Both legislators encouraged their constituents to submit comments online about what actions the state should take.
  • Several nonprofit and governmental entities announced emergency relief funding opportunities for small businesses. The federal Small Business Administration is making available low-interest working capital loans, while Asheville-based Mountain BizWorks joined the statewide Golden LEAF Foundation in administering a $15 million rapid recovery loan program. And the Buncombe County Service Fund will operate a “One Buncombe Fund” offering business loans of up to $10,000.
  • The Asheville Rides Transit system announced a 10-person per bus maximum, to go into effect Wednesday, March 25, and will eliminate the 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. runs of Route 170 to provide extra capacity for Route S6. Additionally, the Asheville Police Department noted that all nonemergency calls for service, including reports of stolen property less than $1,000 and property damage, would be handled via phone.
  • DuPont State Recreational Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the southernmost portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway all closed to the public. In a press release, Friends of DuPont Forest said park officials had observed “too many people unwilling to follow the social distancing guidelines, putting the health of our community at risk.”
SHARE

Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton is the Green Scene editor and a reporter for Mountain Xpress. His work has previously appeared in Capital at Play, Edible Asheville, and the Citizen-Times, among other area publications. Follow me @DanielWWalton

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

One thought on “County readies stay-at-home mandate for March 25

  1. Zinnia Grey

    Today is March 23. A podcast called The Daily said it all today. Its forom the N Y Times. Block off the roads, keep everyone isolated, not optional. Only necessary services csn move about. DO THAT. It’s our only hope

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.