In North Carolina, local health departments are not required to publicly post or share COVID-19 data, leaving it up to each local entity to decide if, when and how to do so. And while WNC counties are making vital pandemic-related information public, they’re not all taking the same approach.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,428 new cases of COVID-19 on Oct. 8, the highest count since July 30. Hospitalizations are the highest they’ve been all month, and in Buncombe County, viral spread is somewhat higher.
Teachers fear for their health under some NC school district plans, with other districts moving toward online-only instruction to begin school year.
In many Western North Carolina schools, cafeteria kitchens have never been busier as districts stepped up to continue providing meals to students through the end of the calendar year, then transitioned to summer feeding programs tweaked to meet current needs.
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.”
Although multiple trucks of supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile have been delivered to other parts of North Carolina by the National Guard over the past week, according to state Director of Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry, county officials say they aren’t aware of any such deliveries to local health care workers.
Nearly 67 percent of surveyed businesses expected to grow their workforce over the next three years, representing up to 26,700 new jobs for the region. The manufacturing and hospitality industries anticipated the largest hiring booms — up to 7,556 and 6,618 jobs, respectively — but all sectors planned for at least some expansion.
Area school districts checked their state report cards, which indicated moderate gains at many local public schools. Henderson County Public Schools launched a virtual public school with district teachers to expand educational offerings and settings for any high school student in the system.
Thanks to a second round of state grant funding announced in early August, area students will have access to an expanded series of coding programs and courses at the high school and middle school levels. Local employers and economic development boosters say tech skills are vital to securing good jobs now and in the future.