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Coronavirus: The latest local updates, cancellations, resources, + more

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Major Local Announcements

Check out the latest COVID-19 stats for NC from the Department of Health and Human Services here. As of Tuesday afternoon, 5,304 cases and 125 deaths have been reported in Buncombe County.

As the Thanksgiving holiday draws near, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt in some families’ plans to gather to stay safe. Even so, thousands of people will be traveling through Asheville Regional Airport. Flights from Nov. 25-29 are down 28% from last year, but about 7,000 passengers are still traveling in the five day period. ✈️ (Asheville Citizen-Times)

○ Rural areas of North Carolina are seeing the latest COVID-19 spikes as we enter the winter months. The spikes are causing concern as rural communities could become overwhelmed with under-resourced hospitals with fewer resources + space for patient intake. (Asheville Citizen-Times) 

The new COVID-19 County Alert System shows community spread in all 100 NC counties, ranking it from red (critical) to orange (substantial) to yellow (significant). The map will be updated monthly based on case rate, percent positive tests + hospital impact in each county.

Experts at UNC Chapel Hill warn that COVID-19 deaths could double this winter as more Americans move inside because of colder weather. Professor Ralph Baric, one of the world’s most highly regarded coronavirus researchers, projects five months of rapid spread, but is hopeful about the effectiveness of Pfizer’s new vaccine, although it won’t be ready for several months. Over 4,700 people in NC have died from COVID-19. (News & Observer)

This year’s agricultural season has been more difficult for migrant farmworkers, who have struggled to find childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic. While parents could lose wages or employment opportunities if they bring children to work, children could also be at risk for exposure to pesticides. Children who join the workforce early could also lose educational opportunities. (NC Health News)

NC will pause in Phase 3 of coronavirus restrictions, and the number of people allowed at indoor gatherings will be dropped from 25 to 10 as of this Fri. (Nov. 13). The new order will stay in effect until Dec. 4. Governor Cooper noted that the arrival of cold weather could increase the likelihood of transmission as people move inside. (WLOS)  

Schedule Changes

The residents of Vermont Ave. in West Asheville (a.k.a. the site of the city’s most popular Halloween celebration) have called the event off this year due to COVID-19. The organizers say that large crowds are not safe, and they hope people won’t still show up to the street on Halloween. In past years, thousands of trick-or-treaters and costumed revelers have descended on the street. 🎃 (WLOS)

The Asheville Downtown Association has announced that the annual Asheville Holiday Parade event has been cancelled this Nov. due to the COVID-19 pandemic + concerns for overall health + safety. In accordance with Phase 3 reopening guidelines, where outdoor gatherings are limited to 50 people, the parade, which draws over 20,000 people on average, isn’t possible to hold safely. 🎄

Gov. Roy Cooper announced that outdoor venues, including stadiums, would be able to open at 7% capacity. Phase 2.5 of NC’s reopening plan is set to expire Fri., Oct. 2. Read more about the coming changes here. (ABC 11)

Henderson County public libraries have reopened with limited hours of operation + new safety protocols, including face mask requirements, social distancing, and frequent hand washing. In-person browsing and Wi-Fi use is now limited to half-hour increments, and computer sessions and public copier + print access now last a maximum of one hour. Study rooms, meeting spaces, public seating, and magazine + newspaper access are still off limits to the public. (WLOS)

The Highlands Food & Wine Festival is cancelled due to COVID-19. The fest was originally planned for November. In lieu of the fall celebration, the organizers are planning Bear Shadow, a music festival that will take place April 23-25 and will feature many of the same acts originally scheduled for fall. If you already have tickets for the fall festival, you can roll them over to spring. 25

The North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro (about two and a half hours from Asheville) is open for visitors. The zoo is limiting attendance to 2,000 visitors per day, with advance registration required. While indoor exhibits remain closed, outdoor areas, concessions + gift shops are open. Face coverings are required and visitors follow a one-way journey through the zoo. (Asheville Citizen-Times)

Carowinds amusement park will stay closed for the remainder of 2020 because of COVID-19. When the park does open again in 2021, visitors will have the chance to try out the longest mat racing slide in the Southeast, the Boogie Board Racer. (ABC News 13)

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino 

  • Gradual reopening

Buncombe County

  • Libraries + Parks are gradually reopening.

Local events (WLOS)

Biltmore

  • Grounds have reopened
  • Downton Abbey: The Exhibition reopened on June 2

 Omni Grove Park

  • Reopened on June 1 after implementing new health + safety procedures as a part of the Omni Safe & Clean program

The deadline to get a Real ID has been postponed because of coronavirus concerns and the danger of overcrowding at DMVs. The ID will eventually be required to board domestic flights. Oct. 1 was the original deadline; there’s no official word on the new date(Washington Post)

Arts

○ Drive-in concerts are making their way into the spotlight as local music venues struggle with financial + safety options during the pandemic. Spots like The Grey Eagle are reimagininng the concert experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. This past Sunday, The Grey Eagle hosted their first drive-in concert at the Maggie Valley Festival grounds, which offered attendees a safe way to enjoy the live music experience while abiding by the Governor’s Phase 2.5 guidelines. (WLOS)

○ Local arts businesses have lost about $18.7 million in revenue since March due to COVID-19, based on a new survey from the Asheville Area Arts Council. Of the 100 businesses surveyed, many have experienced a drop in donations, and over 550 employees (70%) lost their jobs or were furloughed. (WLOS)

Asheville Community Theater 

  • Closed until further notice

Asheville Tattoo Arts Convention has been postponed until September 18-20 of this year.

○ The Brevard Music Center is canceling its 2020 Summer Music Festival, slated to take place May 30 – August 22.  BMC is actively contacting ticket holders with info on refunds + donations.

Grey Eagle 

  • Open for patio shows.

Malaprop’s Bookstore

  • Resumed curbside pickup and are offering limited in-person shopping by appointment.

The Orange Peel

  • Closed until further notice.

  Mothlight 

  • Closed Permanently

○ Flat Rock Playhouse is postponing the rest of their 2020 season. The state theatre of NC had originally planned to reopen in mid-July, but will now move all of their 2020 shows to the 2021 season. Because 80% of their income come from ticket sales, they are accepting donations here.○ LEAF Festival organizers announced that they are postponing the spring festival, scheduled for May 14-17, and combining it with the fall LEAF Fest, Oct. 22-25 at Lake Eden in Black Mountain. The combined festivals will be in celebration of LEAF’s 50th anniversary.

Education

The lowest number of COVID-19 cases this month were identified in Henderson Co. schools this past week (Oct. 19-25). Four cases were confirmed + no new cases have been reported since Friday. Since Sept. 21, 33 cases have been confirmed from 14 of the 23 schools within the school district. (Blue Ridge Now)

○ Three state universities with 1,000+ cases of COVID-19 are all hoping to bring students back to campus for the spring semester. UNC Chapel Hill, Eastern Carolina University + NC State all moved to hold classes online and close dorms after major outbreaks. Schools are still ironing out details, which include better monitoring of students when off-campus, later semester start dates, and reduced capacity at residence halls. 🎓 (News & Observer)

A student at Appalachian State University in Boone has died from complications from the coronavirus. Chad Dorrill, a 19-year-old sophomore, passed away Mon. night. Officials said Dorrill lived off campus and all of his classes were virtual. The university currently has 159 active cases of COVID-19. (WLOS)

Henderson County students aren’t fully returning to in-person learning yet. Board members want more time before students come back to classrooms after several COVID-19 cases in K-2 students. Thirty-seven students, two staff members + a school nurse are currently quarantined, and the county’s average daily case count is on the rise. (WLOS)

○ Macon County students in grades K-5 will head back to classrooms soon. The school board voted unanimously to resume in-person learning under Plan A on Oct. 5. Students will head to school Mon.-Thurs., and will learn remotely on Fri. Middle + high school students will continue to learn under Plan B. (WLOS)

○ Middle + high school students at Haywood County Schools began weekly rotations for in-person learning, and elementary school students will return to classrooms fully on Oct. 5. All-remote learning is still available for students through the end of the school year. (WLOS) 

○ Governor Roy Cooper has announced limited reopening guidelines for Plan A, allowing public school students, from kindergarten to fifth grade, to participate in full-time in-person instruction starting Oct. 5. Learn more here. (Asheville Citizen-Times)

Gov. Cooper’s decision to allow elementary schools to fully reopen with minimal social distancing is due to improvement in NC’s coronavirus metrics, officials say. The governor also pointed to the lower spread among young children. Middle and high school students are still required to moderately social distance, and limits remain in place for how many students can be on campuses. (News & Observer) 

The University of North Carolina school system enrolled more students than in any previous year, despite the effects of COVID-19. Half of the schools in the UNC system reported record-breaking enrollment, which officials note is remarkable because of the challenges associated with the pandemic. Thirteen of the 17 campuses are currently open for in-person learning, including UNC Asheville + Western Carolina University. (News & Observer)

On Sept. 16., Buncombe County Schools Board of Education voted to continue remote learning through the end of the fall semester for high school + early college students. This reverses last week’s decision, when the board voted for early college + grade K-12 to return to in-person instruction using an A/B hybrid learning model. Students in grades K-8 will remain on a hybrid schedule. (Asheville Citizen-Times) 

Unlike other universities in the state like UNC Chapel Hill + UNC Charlotte, Western Carolina University hasn’t had to change plans due to coronavirus outbreaks. The university is pleased by its low numbers of COVID-19 cases among students, faculty + staff. Officials attribute the success to their prevention campaign, Catamounts Care. The initiative includes avoiding large gatherings, maintaining social distance, wearing a mask + washing your hands. (WLOS)

Beginning Mon., Sept. 28, Haywood County schools will reopen for in-person learning. This comes after a vote held Mon. by the Haywood County Schools Board of Education and follows Buncombe + Henderson county schools’ vote to move from virtual learning to a blend of remote + in-person learning. Individual schools will finalize learning plans next week. (WLOS)

○ In addition to safety protocols on campus, UNC Asheville has utilized grant funds to enlist Student Health Ambassadors who connect with their peers, answer questions + provide resources to help the community stay safe and healthy. Learn more.

WNC’s rural areas struggle with internet access + service, which may create a problem for students opting for virtual learning this fall. Many districts, including Jackson County, plan to set up Wi-Fi zones at local churches, community centers, and fire stations to help those without internet access so that students will be able to visit the zones to download their work and then complete it offline at home. (WLOS)

 Buncombe County School District

Mars Hill University

  • All classes virtual

 UNC Asheville

  • All classes virtual. 

Western Carolina University 

  • All classes virtual. 

Brevard College

  • All classes virtual. 

Blue Ridge Community College  

  • All classes virtual

AB Tech

  • All classes virtual

Outdoors

After closing some of its most popular areas in earlier this year due to the pandemic, more recreation areas are now open in Pisgah National Forest. These include Looking Glass Falls + Picnic Area. Visitors are encouraged to adhere to the CDC’s safety guidelines, and not to climb on or around waterfalls or barriers. See the full list of openings here. (Asheville Citizen-Times) 

Despite other state lands reopening to the public, Big Bradley Fallslocated on the Green River Game Lands in Polk County  — will remain closed until further notice. According to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, eight fatalities have occurred at the falls trail since 2000, and it will remain closed because there is no safe view of the falls from the trail. (Asheville Citizen-Times)

Riverside Cemetery in the Montford Area Historic District has reopened. It shut down the same time as other Asheville parks, making this the longest the cemetery has been closed in its 135-year lifespan. All visitors must adhere to social distance guidelines, and funeral attendance is limited to 50 people. (WLOS)  

The N.C. Arboretum reopened trail access as of May 9.

Sports

The pandemic has caused a statewide shortage of high school athletic referees, many of whom are over age 50 and concerned about contracting coronavirus. Officials say the challenges presented by the individual schools’ safety protocols and the NCHSAA’s new athletic schedule — which fits 15 varsity sports into a seven month timeframe rather than its usual ten months — contributes to the uncertainty of both recruiting new officials + holding onto existing ones. (Asheville Citizen-Times) 

The Carolina Panthers are limiting seating this season at Bank of America Stadium, and Personal Seat License (PSL) owners can maintain ownership without attending any home games. If they have already paid and don’t wish to attend, they can use payment as a credit for the 2021 season or get a full refund within 30 days. The stadium seats 75,000, but attendance could be limited to 20-25,000. (News & Observer)

Community Resources

To promote social distancing + limit the spread of the coronavirus, North Carolinians who use food stamps can now purchase groceries online using their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards at three retailers: Walmart, Amazon + Carlie C’s. In May, North Carolina was one of the first ten states to allow online purchases using EBT. This will remain in place permanently beyond the pandemic. 💻

Since the beginning of the pandemic, domestic violence calls have risen + surpassed the number of calls from 2019. From Jan. 1- Sept. 30, the Asheville Police Dept. has received 498 Domestic Violence Intimate Partner calls, exceeding last year’s total of 426. Experts point to heightened stress + increased time indoors as one reason for the increase. Check out our resources for domestic violence survivors here. (Asheville Citizen-Times)

In the two-month gap between moratoriums on renter evictions (between June + September), landlords filed 18,000 evictions against tenants, doubling evictions filed from June to July. Gov. Roy Cooper earmarked $175 million in housing relief in August. Another wave of evictions is expected in January, when the federal moratorium ends. (News & Observer)  

Food costs have been on the rise in the months since the pandemic began. Prices of food + household supplies rose for the third month in a row around the world as demand at grocery stores increased. Early rises in cost were due to shortages, and later fluctuations may have been caused by less demand from institutions like schools, followed by a spike in demand. (Asheville Citizen-Times)

North Carolina’s economy is getting a boost from companies looking to relocate to the state as employees continue to work remotely or in less centralized headquarters. There was a drop in new development at the start of the pandemic, but new deals rose between 10 and 20% in June-August. Five NC cities also recently ranked in the “25 Best Cities for Newly Remote Workers.” (Carolina Public Press) 

Mountain Housing Opportunities has said that many of their renters have struggled to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic. As renters face layoffs, supply + food shortages + more, the org is helping support them through the creation of the Mountain Housing Opportunities Relief Fund. You can donate here. (WLOS)  

○ The Interfaith Assistance Ministry of Henderson County has partnered with local nonprofits to feed area families in need during the pandemic. The org has seen a record increase in the number of folks who need help and is supplying food boxes to over 500 people per day. The boxes include fresh + non-perishable foods, along with cleaning supplies + other potential needs. Want to help out? Donate here. (WLOS) 

The decline in tourism and the permanent or temporary shuttering of restaurants has left many in the state unemployed. In late March, the NC Restaurant & Lodging Association launched the NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund, which offered one-time grants to workers who’d lost their jobs. The program is no longer accepting applications, and officials fear that if federal aid isn’t renewed, more layoffs will occur. The org is encouraging lawmakers to adopt HB 1224, which would offer the hospitality industry loans with forgivable provisions. (News & Observer) 

After more than 2,000 water + sewer customers had late or non-payments last month, the City of Asheville has extended the deadline for payment until February 2021. Gov. Cooper worked to help folks with rent + utility loans, but state amnesty for utilities ended in July. The new program allows customers to maintain services without interruption. (WLOS)

Gov. Roy Cooper has announced The Job Retention Grant Program, a new grant program to help employers keep their workers on the payroll during the pandemic. Applicants may receive as much as 125% of two months of their 2019 average monthly payroll costs, to a maximum of $250,000. The grants are funded by $15 million in federal money, and use was appropriated by the state legislature. Find details + application instructions here. (Asheville Citizen-Times) 

North Carolina’s rural communities have been the hardest hit by COVID-19 in terms of economic impact. Many small towns were already facing infrastructure and funding challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Check out this piece on several communities in eastern NC for more on how towns + their citizens are coping. (Asheville Citizen-Times)

Ashevillian Jeff Kaplan, director of Venture Asheville, shared his perspective on why Asheville is set up to rebound from the economic effects of the pandemic on Medium. One big reason? The way our community has come together to support one another – including through new funding opportunities, the migration of people from larger urban centers, institutional support + more.

○ Area nonprofit Mountain Projects’ five head start centers are facing potential danger with funding issues due to added costs stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic. With their cost estimation of meeting all CDC guidelines at $32,000, the need for relief is crucial. Wanna help out? Donate here. (WLOS)

Staff with the United Way of Asheville + Buncombe County’s 211 say their call volume has soared since the pandemic began. Since mid-March, 211 has received 85,000 calls. They are able to answer general COVID-19 questions and can also offer information on issues like rent assistance + food. To collect data from North Carolinians and better understand their pandemic-related needs, The United Way is encouraging folks to take part in their new online survey. (WLOS)

The Americans for the Arts Impact Dashboard currently shows more than $5.2 million lost in revenue from 89 arts organizations in Buncombe County because of COVID-19 impacts. Buncombe County is asking that all arts businesses complete an impact survey to better understand the overall impacts on arts businesses in the area. Fill out the survey here.

○ Latinx residents of NC are still being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. While they make up 14% of the state’s population, they account for 55% of cases. La Noticia analyzed three databases to identify the state’s most vulnerable Latinx communities, identifying 30 counties hit hardest – including Burke + McDowell in WNC. Many counties also have a high Social Vulnerability Index. (BPR News)

How do grocery stores hold customers accountable for wearing masks? Because most grocery stores don’t have specified staff to observe + enforce mask-wearing, some folks say grocery stores need bouncers. Without designated enforcement, customers turn to the police. Officials with the Asheville Police Department report receiving 48 calls for mask noncompliance since the statewide mask mandate began June 26, 18 of which were reports of disturbances or threats for not wearing masks. (Asheville Citizen-Times)

OnTrack WNC Financial Education and Counseling is hosting online classes for adults that will address hardships families are facing during the pandemic. The classes will include info on topics like preventing home foreclosure + picking the right debt management program, as well as what resources + assistance are available to people. (WLOS)

The ABCCM is asking for immediate help because the pandemic has doubled the need for food + assistance in Buncombe County, but volunteers have dropped by 70%. They’re looking for volunteers and donations to serve in or support their food kitchen and distribution, transitional housing, medical ministry + more. Sign up or donate here

Asheville Strong published a new digital cookbook to raise funds for restaurant worker relief. Over 35 recipes from area chefs are included in the collection, titled Asheville at Home: Iconic Recipes From Your Favorite Local Restaurants. It’s available for pre-order ($19.95) now and is delivered via .pdf. Net proceeds will go to NC Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Restaurant Workers Relief Fund

○  A new web app matches needs with resources during the pandemic. The COVID Mobilize app — created by Asheville entrepreneurs Emily Breedlove of Breedlove & Co., Matthew Nederlanden of Security Camera Warehouse, and Nathan Silsbee of Nomadic Software — helps area bizzes find + provide direct support to local nonprofits, healthcare providers + governments.        

Asheville web design + marketing agency Status Forward has launched Supply Connector, a new online directory that lets manufacturers, suppliers + essential providers list their needs and production capabilities in order to help COVID-19 relief efforts in the supply chain. Find more info here.

Want to help feed those affected by COVID-19? Feeding the Carolinas has created a list of all food banks across NC + all the other ways you can help. 

Asheville City Schools bus drivers + nutrition employees are delivering meals to children at four main distribution sites: Pisgah View Apartments, Hillcrest Apartments, Klondyk Apartments + Arthur Edington Center. There will also be a drive-through distribution site at Isaac Dickson Elementary on Hill Street in the Montford community. The packaged meals include a hot lunch + the next day’s breakfast. (WLOS)

The YWCA of Asheville and WNC is partnering with MANNA FoodBank to provide meals for people in need, and they’re looking for healthy volunteers who are not in at-risk populations today and on Mar. 26 to help pack food. Prospective volunteers should fill out this form or email Amanda Durst. You can also donate to the YWCA’s relief fund. 🥫

Brother Wolf, along with The Humane Society of the United States and The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement, are encouraging folks with pets to create a plan for how to ensure their pet is cared for should they become sick or hospitalized. 

Service industry professionals needing extra assistance due to COVID-19 can check out USBG National Charity Foundation.

○ United Way has created a list of food pantries, shelters + services offered in Buncombe County during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dial 2-1-1 from your phone 24/7 days a week to be directed to real-time health and human service resources closest to you in the community. You can donate to United Way here

Health Care Resources

Local hospitals are monitoring the number of ICU beds available for potentially extreme COVID-19 cases. Mission Hospital has close to 100 ICU beds + has a strategy to double that if needed in only 48 hours. As of right now, only about 10% of patients in the ICU are typically COVID-19 patients. (WLOS)

Buncombe County’s percent positive rate is up to 3.5% out of 86,000 tests, with a reported 3,800 total cases in the county. Health officials note that the overall count + percentage has been increasing over the past month. Currently, Mission Hospital is currently treating 35-45 COVID-19 patients, nearing numbers of the July spike. 🏥 (WLOS)

The NC Department of Health and Human Services has released its Interim COVID-19 Vaccination Plan with details and summaries of how the state plans to handle the release of a future COVID-19 vaccine. The plan calls for a statewide campaign to distribute the vaccine to anyone who wants and needs it through a four-step operation: planning (phase 0), implementation (phase 1), adjustment (phase 2), and transition (phase 3)

Ever wonder what it’s like inside a coronavirus testing lab? Technicians at LabCorp‘s Burlington headquarters process at-home kits, as well as collect swabs from doctor’s offices, hospitals + test sites. Officials say there’s no part of their work that doesn’t happen continuously. The NC-based company has processed roughly 14 million tests since Mar. 5, and the Burlington location has the highest volume out of the company’s 20 labs nationwide. Read more about the test processing work here. (WFAE) 

When patients arrive at Mission Hospital for surgery unrelated to COVID-19, staff use an algorithm to determine whether to test them for the novel coronavirus rather than testing every patient. Hospital leadership says the algorithm has saved about $15,000 so far. Other area hospitals, including those in the UNC system, test every patient. (BPR News)   

Thinking about trick-or-treating this year? Health experts at Wake Forest Medical Center say that it’s possible, with the right safety measures in place. Limited trick-or-treating, with no indoor parties or large outdoor gatherings, could be safe for kids + families if people go to houses individually for candy or if it’s left at the end of driveways. Doctors remind folks that Halloween masks don’t work for COVID-19. (Winston-Salem Journal)

How will colder weather affect COVID-19 numbers? It depends on social habits, according to experts. Doctors say it will be important to continue to limit indoor social gatherings, wear masks, and know about potential exposure or higher-risk behaviors of folks you may be spending time with. (WLOS)

The new SlowCOVIDNC app, which anonymously tracks outbreaks and notifies users if they’ve been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus, took off with over 50,000 downloads on the day of its release. The app uses Bluetooth and does not collect, store, or share any personal or location information. (WNCT)

As temperatures drop here in Asheville, many of us are thinking of crisp leaves + autumn air, but this also means that flu season is coming. The CDC warns that unless precautions are taken, we could be facing a health crisis in the fall as effects of the flu season + the COVID-19 pandemic emerge simultaneously. (WLOS)

The state’s unemployment benefits have been a hot topic during the pandemic, with politicians on both sides of the aisle claiming that NC’s benefits are some of the worst in the US. NC ties with Florida for last place in the country for maximum available weekly benefits, and ranked 49th in Aug. for average weekly benefits. The state currently ranks 41st (out of 53, including territories and Washington, D.C.) for timely distribution of benefits. (Charlotte Observer)

As crowds flock to the Blue Ridge Parkway for leaf season, park rangers are urging people to be cautious + safe to slow the spread of COVID-19. While visitor centers are now open, officials are enforcing capacity limits + folks are encouraged to wear masks. Reminders to keep distance, floor markers, and face shields at registers are also in place. Parkway staff have also been holding more virtual ranger programs. (Asheville Citizen-Times)

Looking for a rapid COVID-19 test in Asheville? Rapid tests are currently available through Mercy Urgent Care’s clinic, but the test has to be approved by one of its providers. Range Urgent Care expects to have several rapid test options available in the coming weeks. (WLOS)

Do you still need to wear a mask if you’ve already had coronavirus? Chief Medical Officer at UNC Pardee Hospital Dr. David Ellis says yes. He notes that the medical establishment doesn’t fully understand the virus and that there have been a few documented cases of COVID-19 reinfection. Ellis stresses that masks not only protect the wearer, but the folks around them. (WLOS)17

A North Carolina dog that showed signs of respiratory distress has died, making it the first known canine to die from the coronavirus in the state. The dog arrived at the NC State Veterinary Hospital on Aug. 3 and passed away Aug. 11. Officials said the dog’s owner told staff a family member tested positive for COVID-19 and later tested negative. If pet owners are concerned about their pet’s health, they should contact their vet. (WXII 12)

Does humidity have a connection to COVID-19? Asheville-based North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies, along with researchers from Appalachian State, found a statistically significant link between specific humidity and COVID-19 cases, with more cases in areas with low specific humidity. The study looked at three US cities – Albany, NY, New Orleans, LA + Atlanta, GA. The authors plan to repeat the analysis later this year with more geographic areas.  

COVID-19 antibody tests are now offered with all Blood Connection blood donations. The tests are free + will be included in the normal panel of testing. This is not a diagnostic test for COVID-19. Research is being conducted on antibodies now, but both the FDA + the CDC note that their presence does not mean someone has immunity to the virus. (WLOS

Community Conversations

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A nurse practitioner’s perspective on COVID-19

Back-to-school options in NC

Outdoor workouts

The 411 on parklets and shared streets

Restaurants with outdoor seating in Asheville

Helping dogs adjust to being home alone

An Asheville therapist on pandemic dreams

How you feel about reopening Asheville

Legal aid during COVID

Car inspections and renewals during COVID

Where to get quarantine BBQ

Alcohol pick-up and delivery

Mental health resources

College admissions in the pandemic

What COVID-19 can teach about community resilience

Alternative birth options

Planning a wedding in quarantine

A collaborative Spotify playlist

Birdwatching 101

Eleven local podcasts

Local ways to lend a hand

Asheville restaurants offering takeout + delivery

Local fitness studios + gyms offering virtual workouts

Share your stories with us + our audience through Voices

Five local creative virtual opportunities for kids

Art in the time of quarantine

Quarantine date night ideas

Virtual library resources

Homeschooling tips

Watch these movies filmed in + around Asheville

Where to get local produce + meat