COVID-19 News Updates 3-20

March 20, 2020

Here’s a round up of COVID-19 related news for 3-20-20. See our Coronavirus Resource Guide for extensive resources and information.

ART buses will be fare-free

The City of Asheville announced that ART buses will be fare-free starting today through April 5th. Downtown street parking and city parking garage fees will also be waived during this time.

Bipartisan COVID-19 House Committee to Work Remotely with Crisis Policy Working Groups; Fisher, McGrady and Turner appointed
The Office of State House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) announced formation of the bipartisan North Carolina House Select Committee on COVID-19 today that will meet remotely through crisis policy working groups to prepare immediate and long-term legislative responses to the developing crisis. Representatives Chuck McGrady and Brian Turner will serve on the Economic Support Working Group and Rep. Susan Fisher will serve on the Education Working Group.

The state House Select Committee on COVID-19’s charge includes addressing “documented and anticipated economic impacts associated with the spread of COVID-19 virus on North Carolina’s economy, including workforce dislocation, health system resource management, declined consumer activity, and temporary industry contraction.”

Groups will begin meeting virtually next week.

Meetings will be streamed through the North Carolina General Assembly’s audio system.  And members of the public can sign up for committee notices and will be able to access documents during the remote meetings on the committee’s website that will be hosted at

Duke Energy supports for customers; community

Duke Energy remains committed to working with all customers who need assistance with their energy bills to avoid creating additional hardships for them. Yesterday, Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress filed a request with the North Carolina Utilities Commission for several areas of relief for our customers including:

  • Waiver of late fees for both residential and non-residential customers.
  • Waiver of returned check fees for both residential and non-residential customers.
  • Waiver of reconnect fees for both residential and non-residential customers.
  • Waiver of credit card/debit fees for residential customers only.
  • Authorization to work with customers on deposit issues.
  • Formally notified the NCUC of our suspension of non-pay disconnects effective March 13, 2020.

The company also announced $1.3 million in donations (company-wide) by The Duke Energy Foundation to support hunger relief and help local health and human service nonprofits across its service territories, including those providing meals to children and families impacted by school closures.

Locally, Duke Energy committed $20,000 to MANNA Foodbank and directed that investment to support hunger relief in each of the counties I’m fortunate enough to serve: Avery, Buncombe, Haywood, Madison, Mitchell and Yancey counties. “A special thanks to Hannah Randall and her team for helping feed families across our region. MANNA FoodBank serves the 16 counties of Western North Carolina and distributes food through 200+ partner agencies. We are grateful for the work MANNA does to provide hunger relief locally.”

Read more


The Pardee Drive-Thru COVID-19 Screening Site is currently closed today (Friday) through Sunday and plans on opening again on Monday, March 23rd or as soon as additional test kits are available.

If You or Anyone You Know Has Symptoms (like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems or you are concerned that you may have been exposed to COVID-19)

  • Call the Pardee COVID-19 Helpline (828-694-8048) between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. to determine if symptoms qualify for flu and /or COVID-19 testing.
  • Do not go to the emergency department. Emergency Departments need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs. If you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 and inform the dispatcher if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
  • For general questions, you can call the UNC Health COVID-19 Helpline at 1-888-850-2684 or the North Carolina Coronavirus Hotline at 1-866-462-3821. All residents are encouraged to continue to follow the precautions offered by the CDC to protect themselves and others from the spread of all respiratory illness, including flu and COVID-19.
  • Click here to check out our infographic on what to do if you have symptoms.


  • ALL NON-ESSENTIAL PFT SUSPENDED Out of an abundance of caution, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine has recommended that all non-essential pulmonary function/spirometry (PFT) testing be suspended at this time. This coincides with recent guidance from OSHA.
  • ALL Audio testing, Respiratory Fit Testing, Breath Alcohol Testing must go to our Arden/Fletcher location: 2695 Hendersonville Road, Arden, NC 28732 (828-651-6350).
  • Urine Drug Screening: Fletcher/Arden and Hendersonville locations only.
  • As of Friday March 20, Urgent Cares will not be performing breathing treatments at any Urgent Care locations. People with respiratory conditions who need a breathing treatment should go to the Pardee Hospital Emergency Department.