The Town is updating this page regularly for all information related to COVID-19 in Buncombe County and Biltmore Forest. Staff will do our best to update this information on a daily basis and provide links to updates. When there is no date listed, that means there is no formal update for the day.
Friday, May 8, 2020
Governor Cooper's Phase 1 Re-Opening takes effect at 5pm today. The order allows some retail establishments to re-open by removing the distinction between essential and non-essential businesses. Certain businesses remain closed, including bars, personal care businesses, entertainment venues, and gyms. Restaurants may only continue to serve customers for drive-through, take out and delivery. For all information, and frequently asked questions related to this order, please follow this link.
Buncombe County has also amended their local order to more closely align with Governor Cooper's Executive Order 138. The only distinction between the two orders is that hotels and other lodging in Buncombe County cannot accept leisure travel bookings from residents living outside the 828 area code. Buncombe County is allowing reservations to be made at these locations for time periods AFTER May 22, 2020, and plans to revisit the order before that time. For more information, please follow this link.
Thursday, April 30, 2020
Buncombe County and Municipalities Issue a Superseding Stay Home, Stay Safe Declaration to align closer with Governor Cooper's Executive Order
To bring our community in closer alignment with Governor Cooper’s Stay Home order, Buncombe County Public Health has issued a superseding Stay Home, Stay Safe Declaration that will go into effect at 6 a.m. on Friday, May 1, 2020 and will remain in effect until such time as it is repealed, replaced, or rescinded.
The most substantial change is to the mass gatherings guidance. There will be no mass gatherings that exceed 10 persons in Buncombe County for so long as this order remains in effect. Physical distancing and face coverings should be utilitized during any such gatherings (The guidance previously was no mass gatherings).
Buncombe County Introduces COVID-19 Self-Checker: Connect to Testing, and Contribute to Data Collection
Help do your part to slow the spread of COVID-19 with Buncombe County’s new COVID-19 Self-Checker. This automated system provides two valuable community assets: Clear guidance for anyone feeling symptomatic and data that will help Buncombe County determine when it’s safe to begin the first phases of reopening. “If you’re experiencing COVID like symptoms, or are concerned about a possible exposure, Self-Checker is the most convenient way for you to get guidance on what your next steps need to be and can connect you to individual level follow-up from healthcare professionals,” explains Public Health Emergency Preparedness Director Fletcher Tove. “The information we compile with this tool will also assist Public Health in anticipating surges on our healthcare systems and help coordinate our testing and contact tracing efforts as we work to reopen our community.”
Buncombe Ready COVID-19 Self-Checker is a quick, confidential, easy-to-use assessment tool you can use online or by phone to help determine if you have COVID-19 and how you can proceed to get medical care. This helps public health experts better understand how the virus is spreading in Buncombe County and allows medical experts and local leaders make the best possible, data-driven decisions to protect everyone.
How Self-Checker* works:
- Head to buncombecounty.org/covid-19, and click on the Buncombe Ready COVID-19 Self-Checker banner.
- Share information about your health, any symptoms you are having, and your health history.
- If your results indicate you need testing, we will connect you with testing and other support to keep you as safe as possible. If you are symptomatic, we will continue to follow up with you every day for 7-10 days after completing the Self-Checker.
- You can also use Self-Checker by calling the Ready Team at (828) 419-0095, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
“The goal of the Self-Checker is to connect those in need to COVID-19 testing, offer additional support, follow up to ensure people are healthy and safe, and gather information about the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” notes Buncombe County Public Health Director Dr. Jennifer Mullendore. Public Health urges anyone with questions about whether they have COVID-19 to use Self-Checker. “This also allows us to conserve healthcare resources, protective equipment, and supplies while keeping people at home and away from others if they potentially have COVID-19,” says Dr. Mullendore.
The information collected from Self-Checker will give public health officials daily and weekly reports that will be key to customizing how we respond locally. It will also provide crucial data to government officials as they continue to inform the public about the next steps for reopening Buncombe County.
The Self-Checker is a partnership between Buncombe County and North Carolina State University. Additionally, partners in our community have helped to develop and test the Buncombe Ready COVID-19 Self-Checker and their efforts ensure language accessibility and ease of use. The Self-Checker is available online in Spanish and Russian and can be taken over the phone in multiple languages via 211.
*Buncombe County COVID-19 Self-Checker is not a comprehensive medical assessment. If you are experiencing severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pains or pressure, blue lips, or confusion, call 911. You must be 18 or older to use the Self-Checker.
Burn Ban Lifted for Western Counties
The burn ban issued two weeks ago has been lifted. This ban was lifted after rainfall came through the area. For more information, please follow this link.
County Extends & Amends Stay Home, Stay Safe Order
Buncombe County issued an extension of its original Stay Home, Stay Safe Order effective Thursday, April 9th at 6am. This extension does not have an expiration date but will be reviewed and amended or lifted as necessitated by changing events. A specific allowance that was created directly through this extension is that landscapers are now specifically allowed to work, provided they maintain all required social distancing and other guidelines. For more information on the extended order and the interpretive guidance, please review the two links below.
Burn Ban Issued for 32 Western North Carolina Counties
The North Carolina Forest Service issued a burn ban, effective 5pm on April 3, 2020, for the 32 westernmost counties in North Carolina. The burn ban was issued due to the spring wildfire season and its confluence with the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information regarding this ban and a list of frequently asked questions, please review this link:
Wednesday, March 30
Biltmore Forest Police Department Launches Resident Reassurance Program
The program is geared toward seniors and people with disabilities that live alone or just want some added security knowing someone is checking on them everyday. This is an important resource at any time, but now during the days of social distancing, it is even more important for those who may be alone to feel connected. We urge any resident who knows of anyone that may need assistance or just needs to be checked on to contact the Police Department at (828) 274-0822.
Wednesday, March 25
Buncombe County Amends Local State of Emergency
STAY HOME-STAY SAFE EFFECTIVE 8PM, MARCH 26
Buncombe County has issued a "Stay Home - Stay Safe" supplemental declaration that goes into effect Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 8pm. The declaration directs all Buncombe County residents, including Biltmore Forest and all municipality citizens, to limit movements outside of their homes not deemed essential. The declaration is valid through Thursday, April 9, 2020 at 6am.
Interpretive guidance for this supplemental order can be found by clicking this link. This file, and the following information from Buncombe County's website, should be used to guide questions regarding what individuals can and cannot do, and what is essential versus non-essential.
For the Most Up to Date Information
All visitors to this page should subscribe to Buncombe County's alert system by texting BCAlert on your smartphone to 888-777. This will provide the most up to date information as released by Buncombe County's Dept. of Health and Human Services and Buncombe County. For all daily information, please visit BC Ready on coronavirus preparedness and response in Buncombe County.
Town Specific Information Related to COVID-19 Response and Preparedeness
Effective March 17, 2020, all Town buildings are closed to the public as a precautionary measure to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. All essential services, such as police, sanitation and recycling, and water service, will continue as normal. Please review this release for more information.
Effective March 12, the Board of Commissioners cancelled all meetings of advisory boards for thirty (30) days. Where applicable, some boards may review items electronically. By state law, the Board of Adjustment is not able to meet virtually or electronically. The Town is currently performing tests to consider how to conduct regular Board of Commissioner meetings virtually.