COVID News Update: 12/11/20

December 11, 2020

Here’s a round up of COVID-19 related news for 12/11/20. See our Coronavirus Resource Guide for extensive resources and information. 

COVID Testing, Sunday, Dec. 13th in Asheville Chamber parking lot

If you have coronavirus symptoms or think you’ve been exposed to COVID, you are encouraged to get tested. Buncombe County Health & Human Services will offer testing Dec. 13th in the Asheville Chamber parking lot (36 Montford Ave.) from 1-5 p.m.

Please read this post for more info

Modified Stay at Home Order begins today through Jan. 8, 2021

Due to rapid increase in North Carolina’s key COVID-19 trends, Governor Cooper has issued a modified Stay at Home order in effect Dec. 11-Jan. 8, 2021.

The Order requires events, restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, personal care businesses and more to close at 10 pm. Between 10:00 PM and 5:00 AM, all individuals in North Carolina must stay at home or at the place they will stay for the night. Travel to and from work; to obtain food, medical care, fuel or social services; or to take care of a family member is exempted.

Any businesses or organizations that sell or serve alcoholic beverages for onsite consumption shall cease the sale and service of alcoholic beverages for onsite consumption between 9:00 pm and 7:00 am. The agents or employees of establishments that are permitted to sell or serve alcoholic beverages for onsite consumption shall likewise not sell or serve alcoholic beverages for onsite consumption between 9:00 pm and 7:00 am.

Read more in the Frequently Asked Questions document.

In the past week, North Carolina’s case count has broken single-day records on three separate days, including crossing more than 6,000 cases per day on two of those days. Just a month ago, cases were under 3,000 per day. In recent days, the percent of tests returning positive has increased to more than 10%.

On North Carolina’s COVID-19 County Alert System map. The number of red counties (critical community spread) has more than doubled since November 23, up to 48 red counties from 20 red counties. There are now 34 orange counties (substantial community spread), as compared to 42 orange counties from the previous report. More than 80% of the state’s counties fall into the red or orange tier. These rates likely do not yet reflect the full impact of Thanksgiving gatherings.

Additional News & Resources:

City of Asheville reiterates safety considerations for operating outdoors

More businesses and organizations are operating outdoors this year due to COVID-19. The City of Asheville has compiled guidance for use of temporary structures, electricity and heating equipment in order to ensure safe operations in compliance with building and fire codes.

Winter authorization and/or a temporary use permit may be required to use winter accommodations such as heaters, tents and canopies. Review the guidance and steps to apply. Fees for winter authorization, temporary use permits and outdoor dining permits are waived through Dec. 31, 2020.

Staff is available to answer questions and provide consultation about outdoor accommodations by calling 828-259-5967 or emailing Fees for temporary outdoor expansion through the AVL Shares Space program, temporary use permits and outdoor dining permits continue to be waived.

Key safety reminders for all businesses:

  • Propane heaters may not be used beneath any canopy, tent or “igloo”.
  • Propane heaters must always be located 5 feet from buildings, combustible materials (including umbrellas) and exits/exit routes.
  • Propane canisters must be stored outdoors, 10 feet away from building exits and openings and may not be stored on public property.
  • All “igloo”/dome structures must be rated for fire code compliance and receive a Temporary Use Permit before use; submit the model’s user/safety manual with the permit application.
  • Open flames and table top heating appliances may not be used.
  • Property/business owners are responsible for moving items away from public thoroughfares that might be damaged by salt and sand treatments and snow plowing during inclement weather.
  • Formal authorization and/or permitting may be required to use winter accommodations including use of any model of outdoor heater, expand use of private parking lot, set up canopies or “igloo,” or add vinyl sides to already-permitted canopy.

Download the SlowCOVIDNC app

NCDHHS developed the SlowCOVIDNC app to alert users when they may have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. More than 491,000 people have already downloaded SlowCOVIDNC, but the more people who download and use SlowCOVIDNC, the more we can slow the spread.

The app is completely anonymous and does not collect, store or share personal information or location data. Download it for free on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

Additional Housing Assistance Available for Those Affected by Pandemic-Related Losses, Must be Accessed by Dec. 31

Attention Buncombe County residents: If you are struggling to pay your rent, mortgage, or utilities, Buncombe County’s COVID Housing Assistance Program may be able to help. The funds must be accessed prior to Dec. 31.

To qualify to receive relief funds earmarked for the Housing Assistance Program, households must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • The applicant/household lost income due to COVID-19.
  • There is a sustainability plan to pay shelter expenses going forward after the County assists with past due bills.
  • Income limit of 200% of the federal poverty level ($52,400) for a family of four.

Buncombe County is now accepting inquiries. Please fill out form and return to Buncombe County Health and Human Services or call (828) 250-5500 to be connected with a caseworker in English or Spanish to start the application process.