Buncombe COVID-19 case graph

Buncombe continues mask mandate amid record COVID spread

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners members unanimously voted Jan. 4 to extend the county’s indoor mask mandate through Wednesday, Feb. 16. The extended mask requirement does not contain any language regarding enforcement, nor does it specify the type of face covering that residents should wear, despite health experts saying cloth masks are insufficient against the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Wellness in brief: Hospitals suspend COVID-19 vaccinatio­n requiremen­ts

Hospitals suspend COVID-19 vaccination requirements Earlier this month, AdventHealth Hendersonville, Pardee UNC Health Care and Mission Health suspended requirements that employees become fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as per a federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services memorandum. CMS had issued an emergency regulation on Nov. 4 mandating that all eligible workers at Medicaid and Medicare-certified […]

Classical Scholars classroom

Some local schools reject COVID advice from health officials

Xpress has identified at least seven local K-12 institutions that are not requiring all students to wear masks as recommended by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services StrongSchoolsNC toolkit and county public health leaders. Some have rejected other coronavirus measures as well, including isolating individuals with COVID-19 and recommending vaccinations.

Blue face masks

Buncombe reinstates COVID emergency, indoor mask mandate

The requirement covers all “business establishments, offices and workplaces, public transportation facilities and vehicles, and any indoor place the public is invited or allowed to enter and gather,” with the exception of weddings, funerals, religious gatherings and “other activities constituting the exercise of First Amendment rights.”

Cooper urges all K-12 schools to reopen for in-person learning

New policies from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction recommend all elementary schools open for in-person learning under Plan A, which does not require 6-foot social distancing between students and teachers. Middle and high schools are encouraged to reopen in-person under Plan B, which requires 6-foot social distancing at all times.

Employee at COVID-19 vaccination site

Buncombe health staff address commission­ers’ COVID-19 concerns

“We recognize that it’s not a perfect system and the demand is quite high,” said Stacie Saunders, Buncombe County’s public health director, at a Jan. 12 special meeting called to address local vaccination efforts. “We just want to reiterate that we will not have sufficient supply of vaccine for a very long time, so it is likely that we will still hear frustration and concerns about being able to get an appointment.”