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ASHE COUNTY — Following the lead of other municipalities, counties, states and countries, Ashe County and the town of West Jefferson have declared a state of emergency as a response to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic gripping the world.

Ashe County declared a state of emergency Sunday, March 22, after it was signed off by Ashe County Board of Commissioners Chairman Todd McNeill.

“The purpose of the declaration is to make additional resources available, formalize emergency actions already under way across multiple local and state agencies, and help Ashe County prepare for the possibility of the arrival and spread of COVID-19,” the county released in a statement.

The decision was made after county officials worked with Ashe County Emergency Management, AppHealthCare and other agencies and community partners.

“Important to note is that, aside from some local county office closures, the declaration of this State of Emergency in Ashe County will have little impact on the day-to-day lives of Ashe residents,” the statement read. “The declaration of a State of Emergency simply provides the framework and authority for the Ashe County Emergency Operations Center to fully operate and effectively respond to the evolving COVID-19 situation.”

One day later, the town of West Jefferson announced their own state of emergency declaration, signed off by Mayor Tom Hartman.

In addition to the declaration, the county announced changes in operation to county offices and departments.

All county offices are closed effective March 23. While closed, staff can still be reached via phone or email. Ashe County DSS and the Clerk of Courts’ offices will be open with limited availability, and it asked that visitors call ahead.

A full list of Ashe County office closures can be found HERE

Ashe Post & Times will continue to provide updates on this story as they are made available.

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