At a March 24 press conference, Fletcher Tove, Buncombe 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.
Area hospitals have taken somewhat differing approaches to the question of whether to stop performing elective surgeries and other medical procedures. There are worries nationally about whether there will be enough personal protective gear like masks and gloves for health care workers, but hospitals in the Asheville area say they have good supplies for now.
Unlike other local instances of the disease caused by the new coronavirus, explained Dr. Jennifer Mullendore, county health workers had been unable to trace at least two cases to a specific source — suggesting that the infection is spreading within the county at large.
Over the 30-day period that began Feb. 27 and runs through March 26, the city and county are planning to issue a total of nearly $233 million in debt. With so much funding set to flow into local coffers, Xpress looked at what goes into a local government credit ratings and their influence on money management.
Although a case of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus had previously been reported in a visitor to Buncombe County on March 16, the two newly announced cases are the first to be confirmed in residents of Buncombe and its surrounding counties.
Buncombe County’s revised emergency declaration restricts gatherings to 10 people or less, a stronger mandate than the current statewide prohibition of gatherings of over 100 people. The mandate also requires gyms, fitness centers and exercise facilities, indoor pools, spas, movie theaters, live performance venues and arcades to close until further notice.
Fletcher Tove, Buncombe County’s emergency preparedness coordinator said that a local mandate to shutter businesses and facilities that bring people into close, sustained contact — including gyms, pools, spas, hair salons and barber shops — is being developed and could be announced soon.
Three draft design concepts for the city-owned Haywood-Page properties were presented during a public work session on the issue Feb. 17, and residents can comment on those designs via online survey through Sunday, March 14.
Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Chair Brownie Newman declared a local state of emergency due to the increasing number of cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina. The move followed a statewide emergency declaration from Gov. Roy Cooper just two days earlier. Mayor Esther Manheimer subsequently declared a state of emergency for the city of Asheville.
“Based on my many experiences collaborating and working with her, I can say without a doubt that Terri is someone we can all trust to sit at the table with integrity.”
“Terri’s vision for the Buncombe area states that she will strive to develop accessible greenways and recreational resources for the health and well-being of the individuals who live there.”
“I believe that an important part of keeping that economy strong relies on reasonable and smart land use. Endorsed by the Sierra Club, Nancy Nehls Nelson, Democratic candidate for Buncombe County commission in District 1, will work with stakeholders to make that happen.”
“Parker shares my personal investment in Buncombe’s children. Smart kids don’t close achievement gaps; policy does.”
Civil engineer Mike Anderson compared the plans for the Freedom in Christ property in Candler to those of other Christian facilities in rural Buncombe, including the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Ridgecrest Conference Center and the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly.
Jessica Morriss, Asheville’s assistant director of transportation, explained that the higher costs were primarily driven by federally mandated door-to-door paratransit service for residents with disabilities. The remaining transit budget gap, she said, was due to higher-than-expected prices for fuel and electricity to power city buses.
“Reading supports all aspects of education and life opportunities. I have seen firsthand the difficulties struggling readers experience.”
Jeremiah LeRoy, Buncombe County’s sustainability officer, shares his top five reasons from 2019 to keep up hope about the county’s sustainability work.
Incumbents were vulnerable in all five of the races in which they were challenged, with Democrats ousting Republicans in the city governments of Hendersonville and Saluda (which also lies partially in Polk County). Henderson County turnout was 18.4%, with 4,766 of 25,897 eligible voters casting their ballots.
Xpress reached out to candidates across the two counties to understand their motivations for participating in the municipal elections. Many of the topics the hopeful elected officials raised — diversity, transportation planning and preservation of small-town character — may give WNC politicos a sneak peak at what will be important to area voters in 2020.