ASHE COUNTY — North Carolina has 116,087 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) as of noon on Tuesday, July 28, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. This is more than 13,000 more cases than the same time a week earlier.
As of presstime, there are 35 active cases in Ashe County, with a additional 45 people being monitored, according to AppHealthCare.
As of July 28 at noon, there were 99 total confirmed cases for Ashe. There have been 240 confirmed cases in Watauga County, with 96 active, and 61 confirmed cases in Alleghany County, with 20 active, according to AppHealthCare.
AppHealthCare plans to hold a drive-through COVID-19 testing event for Ashe County on Aug.1.
Governor Roy Cooper announced July 7 that due to the increasing numbers, Phase 2 would continue for three more weeks. People must wear face coverings when in public places, indoors or outdoors, where physical distancing of six feet from other people who aren’t in the same household or residence isn’t possible.
Facial coverings are required for all employees and customers of retail businesses and restaurants as well as workers in manufacturing, construction, meat processing and agriculture settings.
Exceptions are made for people with medical conditions and children younger than 11, those at home and people walking or otherwise exercising outside when not within six feet of others.
Ashe County declared a state of emergency March 22, which was followed by the towns of West Jefferson, Jefferson and Lansing.
An amendment banning short-term rentals in the county expired May 8, and was not extended.
The Ashe County Courthouse is observing normal business hours, but residents are encouraged to take advantage of online resources or to call the needed office. Upon entry to the courthouse, each visitor is required to wear a mask and have their temperature checked.
West Jefferson Town Hall reopened Tuesday, June 2, following approval from the West Jefferson Board of Aldermen the night before.
At the Jefferson Board of Aldermen meeting March 16, the board voted unanimously to close Jefferson Town Hall to the public. Jefferson Town Hall has since reopened.
According to Lansing Town Clerk Marcy Little, Lansing Town Hall reopened July 26. There is a limit of two people at a given time in the building.
On March 12, Ashe Memorial Hospital’s expanded visitor restrictions went into effect. The hospital asks that those who are not members of a patient’s immediate family refrain from visiting unless absolutely necessary, regardless of the visitor’s age or health status.
Local assisted living centers Margate Health and Rehabilitation Center, Ashe Assisted Living and Forest Ridge Assisted Living have enforced visitation restrictions to protect residents from possible exposure to COVID-19.
Recreation and Entertainment
The N.C. State Parks announced Elk Knob State Park, Grandfather Mountain State Park, New River State Park and Mount Jefferson State Natural Area are closed as of March 27. Grandfather Mountain announced it would reopen in a limited capacity May 15, with all ticket sales moving online.
Also closing are recreation facilities at recreation sites in the National Forests in N.C. were temporarily shut down. The closures include picnic pavilions, shooting ranges and all restrooms.
These shutdowns are in addition to previous announcements about developed campgrounds, several large developed day use areas, visitor centers and Off-Highway Vehicle trail systems, which remain temporarily shut down.
The Ashe County Public Library re-opened Monday, June 15, with limited hours, services and building capacity. The Ashe County Public Library’s hours of operation will be Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The first hour of service each day is currently being reserved for people most at risk of dying from COVID-19.
The library will still be offering curbside pickup options and there will be no in-person programs or meetings. For more information about Ashe County Public Library, visit the website at www.arlibrary.org/ashe or call (336) 846-2041.
The Ashe County Arts Council re-opened the Arts Center Thursday, June 25, while also unveiling the new exhibit, “Shadow of the Hills.” The Arts Council announced June 16 that the Ashe County Bluegrass and Old Time Fiddlers Convention and the 2020 Ashe County Studio Tour were canceled. The Ashe County Little Theatre’s 2020 season has also been cancelled.
The Florence Thomas Art School reopened on June 2. The art school has announced plans for events, classes and workshops.
Ashe County Park reopened May 11, and all facilities including bathrooms, playgrounds, courts, skate park and shelters will remain closed.
The NCHSAA announced it would allow the start of summer activities on June 11. Ashe County High School began off-season sessions July 6.
Family Central’s park office is closed but staff can be contacted at (336) 982-6185 or by email at email@example.com. The gym and workout room at Family Central will be closed until further notice.
At the Ashe County Detention Center, new inmates are being quarantined for anywhere from 15 to 30 days upon arrival. Air filters have been added in between the Detention Center’s four pods, hopefully keeping any disease contained should it arrive.
Ashe County Sheriff’s Office deputies are now doing as much as they can remotely, and have also been instructed to avoid entering confined spaces, instead opting to conduct business outside. Sheriff Phil Howell said the ACSO still wants people to know they are in the community.
According to Ashe County Emergency Management Coordinator Patty Gambill, citizens can call (866) 462-3821 for more information.
It was announced July 14 that the state would have a school year following Plan B, with Ashe County Schools stating they plan to alternate students’ days in the classroom when the year begins, Ashe Post & Times previously reported.
For continued updates and more information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, visit www.ashepostandtimes.com.
Ian Taylor contributed reporting to this story.