Ashvegas Virus Hot Sheet: N.C. hotels authorized to provide housing alternatives during COVID-19 outbreak


More of what’s going around on the coronavirus outbreak front:

-N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper today (Wednesday, April 8: announced that North Carolina has received approval from FEMA to provide housing alternatives, 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, according to a press release.

“North Carolinians without stable housing still need places to go if they have a mild case of COVID-19 or need to quarantine after being exposed to the virus. These types of alternatives will help people who have no other safe options to self-isolate or social distance while we slow the spread of this virus,” Cooper said in the release.

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; 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.

The federal government through FEMA will pay 75 percent of the costs associated with operating the non-congregate sheltering program. North Carolina will pay the remaining 25 percent. We’ll see what Asheville-area hotels may be tapped. Stay tuned.

-Here’s the N.C. Department of Health & Human Services COVID-19 dashboard. It is updated daily by 11 a.m. with running totals of positive COVID-19 cases, the number of deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus and more.

-Here’s an update for arts organizations and artists when it comes to relief funding during the COVID-19 outbreak from Wayne Martin, the executive director of the N.C. Arts Council.

-ASAP, the local organization that works to connect small farmers with markets, has organized an interim farmers market on the campus of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in Asheville in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The new market is designed to protect shoppers and vendors by maintaining social distances and mitigating potential virus transmission points, according to a press release. (I visited during its first week, and it worked well in keeping people apart, and was stocked with tons of fresh produce, baked goods and more.) The ASAP Farmers Market is located outdoors in A-B Tech parking lots A2, A3, and A7 with limited access from the end of Persistence Drive off Victoria Road. The hours are 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays and Thursdays.

-Buncombe County Chief District Court Judge J. Calvin Hill, Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams, Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller and Asheville Police Department Chief David Zack have all instituted changes to reduce the county jail population during the COVID-19 outbreak, Mountain Xpress reports. In just one example of the efforts underway, Zack says he has instructed officers that “in situations where charging is a needed outcome, it is preferred to issue citations for future court appearance,” the Police Department’s spokeswoman told Xpress. “Physical arrest should be reserved for situations where the nature of the crime or the totality of the circumstances makes it the best option,” the chief’s directive specified.

-Explore Asheville plans to hold a virtual partner forum from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on April 14 to offer an update from Buncombe County officials on the current status of COVID-19 and social distancing orders in place, followed by presentations like those the Explore Asheville team made at the recent meeting of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority. Register here.

-Here’s the Explore Asheville microsite of COVID-19 resources, dubbed Asheville Cares.