ASHEVILLE BUNCOMBE NOT A COVID-19 HOTSPOT, BUT NORTH CAROLINA SEES SPIKE
(June 11, 2020) Asheville-Buncombe has had a total of 418 lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19, and currently 114 of these individuals are in isolation. Five nursing homes in the county have out had outbreaks, and 34 people have died in the county. Western North Carolina has had a total of around 2,200 cases in a population of more than 1 million. Still, compared with the state of North Carolina and some other Southern states including Georgia, Texas and Florida, local cases have been low, and in recent days the number of Covid-19 cases have been falling.
ASHEVILLE CURFEW LIFTED AND CITY IS QUIET
(June 11, 2020) Asheville has lifted its curfew, and no protest demonstrations have been held in recent days. However, many Downtown stores are still boarded up, with many of the plywood windows sporting "Black Lives Matter" and illustrations relating to racism.
ASHEVILLE PROTESTS CONTINUE
(June 5, 2020) Like many cities nationally, Asheville has seen several days of protests against the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other examples of brutality against people of color. While protests in Asheville generally have been peaceful, Asheville police and National Guard have used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protests. Some store fronts and other property were damaged during the first week of June, and grafitti was sprayed on the Vance Monument and on a number of buildings in Downtown. Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer announced a curfew from 8 pm to 6 am daily.
ASHEVILLE AND WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA MOVE INTO PHASE 2 OF REOPENING
(May 21, 2020) Effective May 22, 2020, North Carolina and the Asheville area, along with most of Western North Carolina, move into Phase 2 of Reopening from Covid-19. NC Gov. Roy Cooper announced that restaurants, pools and personal care services — including salons and barber shops — will be allowed to open at 50% capacity. Indoor gatherings will remain limited to 10 people, while outdoor gatherings can now include 25 individuals. Bars, nightclubs, gyms and indoor entertainment facilities, including bowling alleys and movie theaters, will remain closed. Harrah's Cherokee Casino on the Qualla Boundary near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has reopened, though with the casino limited to 30% capacity. Asheville and Buncombe County lodging places can now accept reservations and visitors, subject to occupancy and social distancing requirements.
ASHEVILLE-BUNCOMBE AND THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA MOVE INTO PHASE 1 AND 2 OF REOPENING
(May 15, 2020) The state of North Carolina including Asheville, Buncombe County and the rest of Western North Carolina are gradually moving into a phased reopening from the stay safe at home Covid-19 pandemic. Phase 1 began May 9 and Phase 2 begins May 22. Most businesses, recreational areas and attractions soon will be able to reopen but must follow social distancing guidelines. See other sections of this website for details, and check locally for additional information.
ASHEVILLE AND BUNCOMBE COUNTY REPORT TOTAL OF 116 COVID-19 CASES
(May 15, 2020) Buncombe County and Asheville reported a total of 116 lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19 as of May 15, 2020, along with 4 deaths. This is in a county of more than 261,000 people. In the Western North Carolina mountain region, an area of 19 counties with well over 1 million people, there have been more than 600 lab confirmed coronavirus cases. Hendersonville and Henderson County have reported the most cases in WNC, mostly due to an outbreak in four Henderson nursing homes.
STATE AND LOCAL ORDERS REQUIRE MOST LODGING AND DINING PLACES, ATTRACTIONS AND NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES IN THE ASHEVILLE AREA TO CLOSE
(April 2, 2020) Due to state and local stay-safe-at-home orders, most hotels, restaurants, attractions and non-essential businesses in the Asheville area are closed. Some restaurants still offer takeout and/or delivery. Most hotels, motels, B&Bs and Airbnbs are closed. People arriving from out-of-state are required to self-isolate for 14 days. A few hotels, including the Hotel Arras and AC Hotel in Downtown remain open to serve essential workers staying overnight. Attractions including the Biltmore Estate, museums, the NC Arboretum, Harrah's Casino in Cherokee, NC state parks and Asheville city parks are also closed. Medical services and hospitals, groceries, bakeries, ABC liquor stores, auto service places and other essential businesses remain open, but hours may be shortened. As of April 2, Asheville and Buncombe County have reported 31 COVID-19 cases, with one death.
GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK CLOSED
(March 22, 2020) The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the nation's most-visited national park, has closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, many sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway, including from the French Broad River Overlook near Asheville to the southern terminus of the Parkway near Cherokee are closed.
ASHEVILLE-BUNCOMBE REQUESTS THAT RESTAURANTS AND BARS GO TO TAKEOUT OR DELIVERY ONLY
(March 16, 2020) Restaurants and bars in Asheville-Buncombe have been asked to voluntarily serve customers only through takeout or delivery services. Many restaurants have agreed, some have suspended operations, and some have decided to stay open.
TWO CORONA VIRUS CASES REPORTED IN WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA
(March 16, 2020) One Covid-19 case has been reported in Watauga County, home to Appalachian State University, and an individual from Macon County tested positive while on a visit to Asheville and now is in isolation back in Macon County.
NEW BELGIUM SOLD TO AUSTRALIAN COMPANY
(November 2019) It was announced New Belgium will be be acquired by Lion Little World Beverages of Australia, itself owned by Japan’s Kirin. The impact on Asheville’s $175 million Eastern U.S. brewing and distribution site is unknown.
FALL COLOR LATE THIS YEAR
(October 2019) The autumn leaf color season in the Western North Carolina mountains around Asheville was delayed this year, in part because of dry, hot conditions in September. Some color was visible in early October at the higher elevations, but full color didn't arrive until late October or even early November. Color changes are partly dependent on elevation. As of the last mid- to late November, most color is now gone.
LEGIONAIRE'S DISEASE OUTBREAK AT MOUNTAIN STATE FAIR MAY HAVE BEEN LINKED TO HOT TUB DISPLAYS
(October 2019) Hot tub exhibits at the Mountain State Fair near Asheville might be to blame for the recent outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever, which sickened at least 130 people and killed two people, NC health officials said. Visitors to the fair who developed the lung infections were more likely to have walked past the hot tub displays inside the Davis Event Center at the WNC Ag Center in Fletcher, where several vendor displays were housed, according to a study by the NC Department of Health and Human Services. The Davis Event Center has been closed temporarily. The state said that people who got sick were more likely to have visited the fair, which took place from Sept. 6 to 15, during the latter half of its run. The Mountain State Fair, which was in its 26th year, attracts more than 100,000 people. It has farm exhibits, carnival rides and other fair activities.
ACCESS ROADS TO CADES COVE AND CATALOOCHEE TO BE CLOSED THIS WINTER
(September 2019) Park officials have announced that the main access roads into Cades Cove and Cataloochee will be closed for several months in winter 2019-2010 for road construction projects. The main access road into Cataloochee, Cove Creek Road, is expected to be closed from November 1 through February 29 for roadwork while the N.C. Department of Transportation makes repairs just outside the park.
Laurel Creek Road, the 7-mile access road leading from the Townsend Wye to Cades Cove, will be closed to all motorists, cyclists and pedestrians from January 3 through February 29 to repair Bote Mountain Tunnel. Cades Cove Campground, which is normally open during the winter months, will be closed December 30, 2019, through March 5, 2020.
OPINION: OUR GOALS FOR ASHEVILLE AND THE NC MOUNTAINS
This is the bucket list of the long-term goals we at Amazing Asheville support for Asheville, Buncombe County and the Western North Carolina mountains. Ambitious? Absolutely. Achievable? Perhaps. With years of work and some luck.
• Work to encourage every local business to pay employees, at a minimum, a Living Wage so that residents can afford a decent place to live, reliable transportation and healthful food for themselves and their families
• Work to attract and encourage even more diversity in Asheville and Buncombe County – by age, race, ethnic background, sexual identity, education, place of origin, language and in other ways
• Work to bring more “creative space” jobs to the area – in art, crafts, technology, video, internet, research, writing, advertising and other creative fields, using the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Western Carolina University, Warren Wilson College, Mars Hill University, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Institute and other colleges, along with the River Arts District, as levers and catalysts
• Work to install sidewalks, walking trails and bicycling paths along all residential streets and roads in the city and county
• Continue the successful work of the many who have revitalized Downtown Asheville with new art and craft galleries, residential options, local stores and shops, tourism sights, restaurants, craft breweries and distilleries
• Expand development of West Asheville, North Asheville and the River Arts District as sustainable satellite neighborhoods adjoining Downtown Asheville
• To better show the beauty of the mountains and to protect against outages, put all power, telecommunications, cable TV and other lines underground
• Continue to work to position Asheville as a major national destination for visitors, using the Biltmore Estate, Downtown Asheville, Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Western North Carolina’s other mountain and outdoor resources, along with the area’s restaurants, craft beers and wineries, as levers
• Work to make the University of North Carolina at Asheville and other area colleges the focus of “Asheville as a college town”
• Continue to provide maximum possible support for Asheville-Buncombe Technical Institute for training in medical, technology, sustainable agriculture, hospitality, manufacturing and other key local industries
• Work to make Asheville and Buncombe among the most politically progressive areas in the South, while maintaining political and philosophical diversity
• Legalize medical and, for adults only, recreational marijuana in a licensed, controlled and taxed way
• Expand support for sustainable natural and organic farms in the region and to maintain small family farms
• Work to increase public transportation options in Asheville and Buncombe County including bike and car share programs, enhanced ART bus service and new rail service to Charlotte, the Triangle, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Atlanta
• Work to bring back at least a part of Asheville’s streetcar service that operated from 1889 to 1934
• Work to find alternatives to mobile homes/trailers as lower-income housing, and work to cluster remaining mobile homes in visually attractive trailer parks
• Work to enhance Asheville and Buncombe County as an important regional medical center
• Continue to preserve and enhance Asheville’s and the region’s unique architectural heritage
• Enact and enforce sensible but more stringent county-wide zoning in Buncombe County to reduce visual clutter and inappropriate property uses
• Continue to work to attract and grow non-polluting manufacturing industries, new professional and business service firms and regional corporate headquarters to Asheville and Buncombe County
• Work to expand the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and to relocate the park headquarters to Asheville
• Evaluate the practicality of combining Pisgah and Nantahala national forests, adding more land, including some state parks, and creating a new national park in Western North Carolina
All content copyright © Lan Sluder except selected photographs used by permission and brief quotations or other fair use text, which are owned by the copyright holder.
We have made every effort to confirm the accuracy of information on this website, and in the Amazing Asheville book and ebooks, but travel information is subject to frequent change, and no warranty is made, express or implied. Please notify us of any errors or omissions, and we will attempt to correct them as soon as possible. All opinions expressed are those of the author, Lan Sluder, unless otherwise noted.