COVID-19 News Updates 4/8

April 8, 2020

Here’s a round up of COVID-19 related news for 4/8/20. See our Coronavirus Resource Guide for extensive resources and information.

Buncombe County Updates Stay at Home Order

Buncombe County officials continue to take proactive steps to keep our community safe and healthy during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.

To bring our community in closer alignment with Governor Cooper’s Stay Home order, Buncombe County Public Health has issued a new, Stay Home, Stay Safe Declaration. This order goes into effect on April 9, 2020 at 6 a.m., and encourages all residents to continue practicing personal distancing, reduce nonessential travel outside the home, and eliminate gathering in groups of any size.

The declaration also details essential vs. nonessential business, the use of personal protective equipment, and travel inside and outside of Buncombe County. Read the Guidance and FAQ here

State to work with local partners to provide housing alternatives for individuals

North Carolina has received approval from FEMA to provide housing alternatives that follow social distance guidelines, such as hotels, motels, and dormitories, for North Carolinians with unstable housing who may need to quarantine in response to or are at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

The state will work with local partners to provide more than 16,500 units of individual housing in dormitories, hotels, trailers, or other facilities to:

  • People who test positive for COVID-19 and need to be isolated but do not require hospitalization, including those discharged from hospitals.
  • People exposed to COVID-19 and identified by a health care professional as needing quarantine but do not hospitalization.
  • People needing social distancing as a precautionary measure, as determined by public health officials, particularly for high-risk groups such as people over 65 or with certain underlying health conditions such as respiratory illness, compromised immunities or chronic disease. This may include those whose living situation makes them unable to adhere to social distancing guidance.

FEMA will pay 75% of the costs associated with operating the non-congregate sheltering program and NC will pay 25%.

Businesses such as hotels, motels, colleges, universities and other large-scale facilities that may be able to serve as non-congregate facilities can email

NCDHHS to Provide Financial Support to Essential Workers and Child Care Providers

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is providing financial assistance to help essential workers afford child care and bonuses to child care teachers and staff who provide care during the COVID-19 crisis.

NCDHHS established an Emergency Child Care Subsidy Program for essential workers as defined in Governor Roy Cooper’s March 27 Executive Order 121. Essential worker emergency child care financial assistance will be offered through May and may be extended. To receive an emergency care subsidy, parents must complete the COVID-19 Parent Application for Financial Assistance for Emergency Child Care and submit it to their child care provider. Financial aid is available to parents and caregivers who are essential workers and who meet the following criteria:

  • Their income is below 300 percent of the poverty line;
  • They are an essential worker fighting COVID-19 or protecting the health and safety of communities; and
  • They feel they have no other viable child care options available to them.

The hotline is available to help essential workers find child care programs that are meeting new health, safety and operational guidelines. Care options are available in licensed child care facilities for children from infants through age 12. The hotline is in partnership with the NC Child Care Resource and Referral Network. Parents and caregivers can call (888) 600-1685 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

For more information about child care during COVID-19 in North Carolina, visit

City of Asheville note on trash and waste collection

During the COVID-19 pandemic, regular curbside trash and recycling collection continues. However, for the safety of staff, most bulky waste and brush collection is postponed, as these are multi-person operations that require workers to be in close contact. Sanitation is providing limited collection of large piles with a claw truck in an effort to minimize obstructions. In the meantime, please ensure that any containers, bags, or piles of brush are not obstructing sidewalks or traffic. Find out more at this link,

Scam Alert: Watch Out For Three new Coronavirus Scams

Better Business Bureau encourages people to watch out for scams in the midst of this pandemic:

  • Phony SBA Grants: This scam starts with an email, text or caller ID that appears to be from the U.S. Small Business Administration or an attorney representing the SBA. Be sure you are on for all SBA loan info.
  • Zoom Bombing: Video hijacking attempts occur when conferences are hosted on public channels shared over the internet via URLs, making them accessible to anyone. Hijackers can sometimes guess the correct URL or meeting ID for a public Zoom session, giving them access to the feed. For users organizing public group meetings, BBB strongly encourages hosts to review their settings and confirm that only they can share their screen. This will prevent any outside disruption from the main video feed on a public session.
  • Mandatory COVID-19 Test Texts: You get a text message that looks like it’s coming from the US federal government. Current reports say that scammers are impersonating the US Department of Health and Human Services, but they are unlikely to stop there. The message tells you that you must take a “mandatory online COVID-19 test” and has a link to a website. But there is no online test for coronavirus!

Campaign for Southern Equality offers support for LGBTQ Southerners

LGBTQ Southerners are now able to apply for immediate financial support of $100 from Campaign for Southern Equality. The easy application process is designed to move funds quickly to LGBTQ Southerners who are already experiencing the health and financial impacts of the pandemic, with a focus on those who are at particularly high risk.  Click here to learn more and apply for an Emergency Assistance Grant.

Anyone can apply for a Community Response Grant of up to $500 to fund a project to meet the needs of LGBTQ Southerners in response to COVID-19. Whether it’s a project focused on connecting LGBTQ elders with meals or tech assistance, an initiative to connect people virtually to build community, an effort to address mental health challenges that will be exacerbated by social distancing, or something else, we’re looking forward to reading applications. Click here to learn more and apply for a Community Response Grant. 

By the end of the second round of these grants, CSE will have distributed a total of $55,000 to support LGBTQ Southerners impacted by COVID-19.
COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments for Social Security Beneficiaries

Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file an abbreviated tax return to receive an economic impact payment. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will use the information on the Form SSA-1099 to generate $1,200 economic impact payments to Social Security beneficiaries who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019.

Dept. of Treasury, not Social Security, will make automatic payments to Social Security beneficiaries. Beneficiaries will receive these payments by direct deposit or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their Social Security benefits.

For updates from the IRS, visit their web page.