Monday, September 14

Haywood County Health Director Patrick Johnson reports that, since late August, Haywood County has continued to average 3-5 new COVID-19 cases per day.

These recent infections mostly involve people letting their guard down and getting exposed at work or while traveling, then passing the virus on to other family members, Johnson said.

One recent scenario of note involved a small Haywood County business, where a few employees have become infected. Because the business hasn’t met the guidance threshold of five employees infected, it doesn’t officially meet the definition of a cluster. However, the infections at the business have had a ripple effect in the community as individuals have passed the virus on to family members and customers.

Six months into the COVID pandemic, 544 Haywood County residents have been infected. Of those infected, 217 have been male, 327 have been female and, tragically, 31 people have died. 


Wednesday, September 2

NC Moves into Phase 2.5

NC Governor Executive Order 163 ‘Safer at Home’ Phase 2.5

Tuesday, September 1

State to provide coronavirus grants for local communities

The Mountaineer

N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper announced the state will provide $28 million to local governments and communities in their response to the economic and public health impacts of COVID-19 through the Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus (CDBG-CV) program.

The program will be funded through the CARES Act by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to support North Carolina’s ongoing effort to fight COVID-19.

The N.C. Department of Commerce will provide CDBG-CV grants to local governments. This grant program will assist local governments with subsistence payments to prevent evictions and utility disconnections in municipalities with populations under 50,000 and counties with less than 200,000 people.

This funding priority includes food distribution, testing and diagnosis, and employment training for frontline health care workers.

“The pandemic has presented difficult challenges to North Carolina’s smaller communities and businesses, and these funds will assist them in getting back on their feet,” said Commerce Secretary Anthony Copeland said. “The CDBG-CV program will provide needed relief while also helping set the stage for the post-COVID economic recovery.”

In addition to public utilities and rent assistance, the funds will also provide public facilities support with broadband, communications, and the rehabilitation of buildings as well as financial assistance to small businesses with less than 100 employees and micro-enterprises with no more than five employees.

Local governments can apply for CDBG-CV grants beginning Sept. 1 and will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. The program guidelines and application are available on the North Carolina Department of Commerce website at NCCommerce.com/covidrelief

The program will be funded through the CARES Act by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to support North Carolina’s ongoing effort to fight COVID-19.

The N.C. Department of Commerce will provide CDBG-CV grants to local governments. This grant program will assist local governments with subsistence payments to prevent evictions and utility disconnections in municipalities with populations under 50,000 and counties with less than 200,000 people.

This funding priority includes food distribution, testing and diagnosis, and employment training for frontline health care workers.

“The pandemic has presented difficult challenges to North Carolina’s smaller communities and businesses, and these funds will assist them in getting back on their feet,” said Commerce Secretary Anthony Copeland said. “The CDBG-CV program will provide needed relief while also helping set the stage for the post-COVID economic recovery.”

In addition to public utilities and rent assistance, the funds will also provide public facilities support with broadband, communications, and the rehabilitation of buildings as well as financial assistance to small businesses with less than 100 employees and micro-enterprises with no more than five employees.

Local governments can apply for CDBG-CV grants beginning Sept. 1 and will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. The program guidelines and application are available on the North Carolina Department of Commerce website at NCCommerce.com/covidrelief


Wednesday, August 26

COVID-19 numbers

As of Tuesday, Aug. 25, there were 487 positive cases of COVID in Haywood, with 347 recovered, 101 still in isolation and 28 deaths.

The COVID-19 working number — the daily phone calls and assistance offers handled by the Haywood County Health Department is 191, with 101 individuals in isolation and another 90 in quarantine because they were included as close contacts of someone testing positive.

County Medical Director Mark Jaben explains the downward COVID-19 trend is improving, thanks to residents learning how to act proactively.

Case numbers rose 28 this week as opposed to 62 the previous week. Of those, only six were related to the Silver Bluff outbreak, and none from the hospital staff tested positive.

Window of opportunity remains open, but Haywood residents need to remain vigilant to be prepared for the next spike, which will happen, he warns.


Friday, August 14

LATEST COVID NUMBERS: 

As of Thursday evening, there were 19 deaths related to COVID-19 in Haywood, and 445 individuals who tested positive. 

Of those, 288 have recovered.

The “working number” of individuals health department employees are following to track symptoms and the course of their illness is now 355. Of those, 127 are in isolation, meaning they have testing positive and must stay isolated until they are recovered. Another 228 are in quarantine, meaning they have been identified as close contacts to those who have tested positive.


Tuesday, August 11

COVID-19 numbers

The latest numbers recorded on the N.C. coronavirus dashboard show that Haywood has 435 positive cases, and 12 deaths.

However, Dr. Mark Jaben, county medical director, warns there are several other COVID-19 related deaths that haven’t yet been recorded on the state data.

Haywood Community College Small Business Center

Weekly Wrap-Up

When thinking of our local small business owners, one word comes to mind – Resiliency! We are in awe of your hard work, tenacity and willingness to shift to meet the changing needs of the current economic climate. Our small businesses are #HaywoodStrong,  they are #SmallBusinessStrong, and the HCC Small Business Center is positioned to assist you wherever you may be in your small business journey. Reach out, we would love to hear from you! Send a colleague, we would love to meet them…even if it is virtual for now!

This week’s wrap-up includes information on NC Commerce: Job Retention Grant, additional funding opportunities, Virtual Learning, and the Reboot, Recover, Rebuild (R3) program for Small Business!

If your business or non-profit organization experienced an interruption due to COVID-19, the JOB RETENTION GRANT (JRG) Program may be able to offer assistance. Additional information on the JRG Eligibility Requirements and Grant Amount are available in the Information, Resources and Funding Opportunities section below.

A quick reminder – the PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM (PPP) loan deadline is August 8, 2020. Links to information on the PPP are also available in the Information, Resources and Funding Opportunities section.

The HCC SBC has expanded our VIRTUAL LEARNING lineup to include a series of webinars for our local Nonprofit and Food and Beverage Businesses, in addition to our Business Startup and E-commerce offerings. See below for additional information and registration.

Lastly, please help us get the word out about the REBOOT, RECOVER, REBUILD program for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The program provides small businesses the opportunity to access ‘In-depth’ counseling services from subject matter experts and professional advisors, as well as general business counselors. Please visit our website for additional information on the program or to complete a Program Interest Application.


Thursday, August 6

Job Retention Grant Information

With Phase 2 has been extended through mid Sept, many are thinking, “What now?” There’s still help available for businesses.

Join us for a virtual town hall on Tuesday, August 11th to learn about the state’s new Job Retention Grant and get updates on other funding sources available to support businesses during the COVID-19 disruption. And we could use your help in forwarding to other local businesses who could use the info. We’ve heard many aren’t aware of options available and want everyone to have the opportunity to learn what might be available to them.

Dan Gerlach, consultant for the NC Dept. of Commerce, will discuss the requirements and application process for the Job Retention Grant. In  this Zoom webinar, you’ll find out if you’re eligible, learn how to apply and have an opportunity to submit questions.

Town Hall on NC Job Retention Grant
Tuesday, August 11th at 3 p.m. • Register

Other Resources & Opportunities:


Wednesday, August 5

Second long-term care center outbreak reported in Haywood

The Aug. 4 state report updated at 4 p.m shows one staff member and one resident tested positive for COVID-19 at Smoky Mountain Health and Rehabilitation Center. Reaching a total of two cases means the long-term care facility has crossed into the “outbreak” status.

The same report shows two more staff members at Silver Bluff Village tested positive, and two residents died.

The state’s COVID-19 dashboard also showed there were 128,161 positive cases in North Carolina; 1,166 patients with the virus hospitalized and 2,010 deaths. There have been 1.85 million people in the state tested for COVID-19.

Should a school or child care center report five cases or more, it would be considered a “cluster” and listed on the state report. To date, there have been no reports of a cluster in a Haywood County in either types of setting.

COVID-19 numbers

The case numbers for those testing positive for COVID-19 in Haywood change daily — and several times daily at that.

For instance, Tuesday morning there were 348 cases and four deaths. By the afternoon, the number of deaths were reported at six, and the positive case numbers had jumped to 356. By early evening, a total of seven Haywood deaths were listed.


Monday, August 3

COVID-19 numbers

Total positive — 276

Total recovered — 204

Deaths — 4


Monday, July 27

Cases increase
The Mountaineer

Haywood County saw 48 new cases of COVID-19 during the week since July 16, according to a July 24 press release from the health department.

Since the first cases were recorded April 2, there have been 194 residents infected with COVID-19 in Haywood County, with 37 of those people currently in isolation with the viral disease, and 98 people quarantined because they have been identified as close contacts of known cases during contact tracing efforts, the release said.

Through contact tracing, the press release said it was determined that the latest 48 cases were exposed in the following manner: 25 cases are work-related, including several health care workers; five are out-of-state travel related; three are event or get-together related; six are residents in a congregate living facility; three are close contacts of someone who is COVID-19 positive, and six do not know how they acquired the virus.

During the Haywood County Board of Commissioners meeting July 20, Johnson and Haywood County Medical Director Mark Jaben provided an update on the county’s COVID-19 situation. “Our cases are just going up considerably,” Johnson said. “It’s just rising dramatically right now.”

COVID-19 has moved into at least one of the county’s long-term care facilities whose elderly residents are more at risk of severe infection, and beyond that, 25 percent of Haywood County’s population is age 65 or older, making them at-risk, Johnson said. Chills, sweats, fever, loss of taste and smell, diarrhea, cough and headache are common symptoms of the illness, and lately dizziness has also been reported as a symptom, Johnson said.

Jaben said Western North Carolina has been two to three weeks behind surrounding regions for the coronavirus’ spread, but the upward trend is not irreversible. “We know some things now that we didn’t know before,” Jaben said. “There was the hope that in the summer when it was warmer the virus would settle down, and of course we’ve seen the exact opposite.”

Jaben said the effects of reopening have likely not gone how most people hoped, and referred to his ongoing analogy comparing the virus’ spread to a pot of water over a stove burner. The lid is jiggling, Jaben said. “It’s not boiling over here yet,” Jaben said. “But again, look at our neighbors — what’s happening there? It is a snapshot of where we’re headed.”

Jaben said everyone wants businesses and schools to be opened and stay open, but people need to realize it is in the community’s best interest to socially distance and wear masks in public. “The majority of the cases are happening in very certain circumstances,” Jaben said. “What we’ve seen over and over, is in these cases people are not wearing masks.”

Johnson said get-togethers have been a consistent source of COVID-19 spread in Haywood County. “We keep hearing of these get-togethers that people are having,” Johnson said. “They don’t think that much of it, it’s just the usual family get-together, and all of a sudden four positives pop up. We’ve heard that over the course of three and four months now.”

More instances of spread from young to older adults is occurring as well. “One thing we’re seeing more is the trend for older individuals,” Johnson said. “People in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, and not just in the congregate living facilities.”

For more information, go online to www.themountaineer.com for local updates, or visit the CDC at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus, NCDHHS at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus, and Haywood County at https://www.haywoodcountync.gov/684/Coronavirus-Covid-19-Information.

Residents are encouraged to call 828-356-2019 for questions or concerns related to COVID-19.


Wednesday, July 22

COVID-19 numbers

As of Tuesday, July 21, 180 individuals in Haywood have tested positive for COVID-19. Of that number, 138 have recovered, and none have died.

There were 99 cases in females, 81 in males, and the largest age group impacted were the 20-29 year-old group, where there were 37 cases. The group with the next highest number were in the 40-49 year-old group with 32 cases.

Enter business face mask contest

There is still time for business owners to send in a photo of themselves and their employees wearing their face masks. The submissions will be entered into The Mountaineer’s business face mask contest for oodles of publicity and a chance to win $200.

Email submissions to news@themountaineer.com by tomorrow. Read more here.


Monday, July 20

More COVID cases in Haywood County

Haywood County Public Health received notice of 16 new cases of COVID-19 since Tuesday, July 14. This brings the number of cases recorded in Haywood County to 149. The individuals reside in Haywood County and are in isolation.

As of July 17, there were 44 individuals in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 and 80 people in quarantine after being identified as close contacts of known cases during contact tracing efforts. Together, that is 124 cases the health department is regularly monitoring. The number moves up or down depending on new individuals identified through contact tracing or as individuals recover.

As the virus efforts evolve, county health officials realized they needed to change the way they were reporting activity, said Public Health Director Patrick Johnson. The county will be updating daily totals and new case numbers, but will also be reporting a “COVID working number,” which is the total number of cases where people are in isolation or quarantine.

“It’s a reflection of the COVID burden in our county on any given day,” Johnson said. “In May our COVID working number was in the 40s. In early July it was in the 90s. It’s been slowly rising all month long.

Of the recently identified cases, three are work-related, two are from out-of-county exposures, two are from in-county exposures, and four are travel-related, with three out-of-state travel cases and one in-state case. Three of those testing positive were in a congregate living facility and others are unsure of how they acquired the virus.

“If you have symptoms such as headache, fever, cough, shortness of breath or loss of sense of smell don’t wait, get tested,” said Johnson. “If your doctor isn’t providing testing, contact one of the local urgent cares. Call first for pre-emptive screening and to find out what the current protocols are for when you arrive. It’s also important to understand that anyone tested for COVID-19, even as a standard pre-operative precaution, needs to stay home and self-quarantine away from other family members as able until test results are received, and then follow instructions according to the test results.”

Wednesday, July 15

Nearly 100 sick or in isolation with COVID-19
The Mountaineer

The two-week mark following the July 4 holiday hasn’t even hit yet, but Haywood COVID-19 cases are soaring nonetheless. Public health officials were expecting an uptick in cases around July 18, but hadn’t anticipated the 18 positive cases reported since last Friday, numbers that brought Haywood’s total to 132.

Moreover, the latest positives mean that in the first 14 days of July, there have been 44 new cases as of noon Tuesday. Public Health Director Patrick Johnson fears that more positive results could be received before the day was over.

The trend is both concerning — and an opportunity to make personal actions count to stop the state — and Haywood — from experiencing the skyrocketing cases and deaths that are being seen in Florida and Georgia, said Dr. Mark Jaben, the county medical director.

“If you think about doubling the rate of the disease, when you are down below four days is when hospitals start to get overrun,” Jaben said. “We’re not there yet but are heading that direction. We appear to be two to three weeks behind Florida and Georgia. Are we seeing the future?”

The answer, he said, depends entirely on how people behave from here forward. “If people see the light, then we will follow another path,” he said.

Of those testing positive, four were related to out-of-state travel, four were found through contact tracing testing and five had unknown exposure and no out-of-county travel, indicating community spread.

Two believe they were exposed at work, one was identified during pre-op testing and one was at a party out of the county where no one was masked, Johnson said. Another one was exposed by a relative from out of state.

One of the individuals testing positive, Johnson confirmed, was a baby at a child care center, which has since closed for two weeks. The child was from out of county, but a regular at the center as his parents worked inside Haywood.

Tracking cases

Health department nurses are in daily contact with all those who are isolated and quarantined. As of Tuesday, there were 35 in isolation, which means they are sick, and another 63 quarantined, which means they were in one degree of contact with a person who tested positive.

“We’re working with 98 people, which we think is pretty high,” Johnson said. “The trends we’re seeing are that people are sicker longer with respiratory symptoms and a lingering headache.”

Just one month ago, there were just 12 people in isolation and 19 people in quarantine, for a total of 31, he added. Now with testing results taking between four to six days to be returned, it further complicates the situation.

Those who are supposed to stay at home for the 14-day incubation period have been pretty good about following the rules, Johnson said. There are some who haven’t, and, while he hasn’t used it yet, the public health director does have the authority to enforce a mandatory isolation/quarantine period for those who refuse to stay home.


Wednesday, July 8

New COVID-19 Cases in Haywood County

Haywood County Public Health received notice on July 7, of four new cases of COVID-19.

The two part-time resident cases reported yesterday will actually be included in their home county’s case count, thereby bringing the total number of positive Haywood County cases to 107. The individuals are in isolation at home.

The four new individuals reside in Haywood County. Three do not know where or when their exposure occurred. The other was identified through contact tracing of a previously known case.

To protect individual privacy, no further information will be released.

A new symptom

Health officials are noticing a new sign that could indicate the presence of COVID-19 — a dull headache as the first symptom.

Haywood County Medical Director Mark Jaben said a headache could develop early on — before an individual realizes they may be infected. Still, fever, a cough, aches/pains and perhaps a loss of taste and smell are other common symptoms.


Tuesday, July 7

New Cases of COVID Reported in Haywood
(The Mountaineer)

Haywood County Public Health received notice of 13 new COVID-19 cases between July 2 and 4 p.m. Monday, July 6, according to a press release from the county.

“Eleven of these individuals reside in Haywood County,” the release said. “Two are part-time residents. Two have recent out-of-state travel history. Two have unknown exposure. Seven were identified through contact tracing to two previous cases.”

The individuals are isolated at home. The 13 new coronavirus cases announced Monday brings the county’s total case count to 105 Haywood residents since the first cases were announced April 2. As of noon, July 7, 86 cases of COVID-19 in Haywood County are categorized as recovered. Another 17 remain in isolation, while 54 people are in quarantine because they have been identified as close contacts of known cases during contact tracing efforts.

Haywood County Public Health Director Patrick Johnson said a new category has been added — part-time residents. Two individuals in this category tested positive. A total of 2,865 COVID-19 tests have been administered in Haywood.

Johnson said test results trickle in throughout the day. He expects more positive results this week based on contact tracing information. As with past cases, close contacts, defined as being within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 infection for 15 minutes or longer and without protection, are being identified. To protect individual privacy, no further information will be released.

State statistics that show the case numbers by zip code show the following: Waynesville, 47; Canton, 29; Clyde, 19; Maggie Valley, 9; Lake Junaluska, 3.

Residents are encouraged to call 828-356-2019 for questions or concerns related to COVID-19.


Wednesday, July 1

A Disturbing Trend

A disturbing trend is developing in Haywood regarding those who have symptoms but continue to be out and about. This is the reason virus case numbers are rising not just in Haywood, but in Western North Carolina, said Dr. Mark Jaben, county medical director. Others are bearing the consequences of those who won’t own up to symptoms or stay home to protect others.

Case numbers

Negative tests – 2,279

Positive ( Recovered) – 69

Positive (Isolated ) – 22

In testing – 97

Total tested – 2,467

In quarantine: 46


Friday, June 26

Six New Corona-virus Cases in Haywood

Haywood County Public Health received notice on June 25 that six more Haywood County residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

This brings the number of cases recorded in Haywood County as of 5 p.m. on June 25, 2020, to 82. The individuals are currently in isolation at home.

The individuals reside in Haywood County. None have recent out of state travel. One was exposed in the workplace, one has an unknown exposure source, and four are close contacts (family members and friends) of existing known cases and were identified and tested through contact tracing efforts.

To protect individual privacy, no further information will be released


Thursday, June 25

Requirements for the Use of Face Coverings and Masks

North Carolina took early and aggressive action to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our state. These actions prevented our healthcare systems from being overwhelmed and provided valuable time to build our state’s capacity to respond to this crisis. Now, we are seeing increasing cases and hospitalizations from COVID-19 across our state. With more North Carolinians leaving their homes as we ease restrictions, the risk for COVID-19 exposure and infection increases. We have important goals: to protect our families, friends and neighbors from getting seriously ill, to restore our economy and get people back to work, and to get our children back to school. To attain these goals, we must remain vigilant and continue to work together to combat the spread of COVID-19 by taking preventive actions to slow the spread of COVID-19. The preventive actions include the 3 Ws: Wear a cloth face covering. Wait 6 feet apart from others. Wash your hands.

Over the past few months, we have learned a lot about COVID-19 transmission. We know now that people who are infected, but do not have symptoms, can infect others by spreading respiratory droplets through activities like speaking, coughing, laughing, and singing. New scientific evidence suggests that public use of face coverings can help reduce disease transmission. Face coverings are not a substitute for other important prevention practices and should be used in addition to staying 6 feet apart, washing hands, and staying home when ill.
This document updates existing NC DHHS guidance for the use of face coverings by the general public when outside the home. It mandates that face coverings be worn statewide as outlined below. It is not a substitute for existing guidance about social distancing and handwashing.

Guidance for People
People must wear face coverings when in public places, indoor or outdoor, where physical distancing of six (6) feet from other people who are not members of the same household or residence is not possible. These settings include, but are not limited to:
• Inside of, or in line to enter, any indoor public space, including public schools;
• Waiting for or riding on public and private multi person transportation, including but not limited to buses, taxis, ride sharing, private care service, vans;
• Engaged in work, whether at the workplace or performing work off-site, when they are or may be within six (6) feet of other people, including working in or walking through common areas, such as lobbies, hallways, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities;
• Obtaining services in a healthcare setting;
• While outdoors in public spaces when maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet from persons who are not members of the same household or residence is not feasible.

This restriction does not apply to persons while inside their residence or the personal residence of another. Face coverings may be removed to participate in a religious ritual.

Guidance for Businesses
Certain businesses are required to have patrons and employees wear face coverings whether they are inside or outside when they are or may be within six (6) feet of another person, or unless an exception applies. Specific occupational settings, including health care settings, should continue to follow existing protocols and require surgical or procedure masks or N95 respirators, as indicated.
These businesses must follow the requirements for face coverings as described in Executive Order 147. These businesses, to the extent they are open are:
• Retail Businesses;
• Restaurants
• Personal Care, Grooming, and Tattoo Businesses;
• Child Care Facilities, Day Camps, and Overnight Camps;
• Gyms, Exercise Facilities, and Fitness Facilities,
• State Government Cabinet Agencies;
• Transportation;
• High-Density Occupational Settings Where Social Distancing is Difficult, including manufacturing settings, construction sites, and migrant farm or other farm settings;
• Meat or Poultry Processing Plants (new surgical mask requirement);
• Long Term Care Facilities (new surgical mask requirement);
• Other Health Care Settings (ongoing adherence to CDC guidance)

Exceptions.
Face Coverings do not need to be worn by an individual, worker, customer, or patron who:
1. Has a medical or behavioral condition or disability and cannot wear a face covering (including, but not limited to, any person who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious or incapacitated, or is otherwise unable to put on or remove the face covering without assistance);
2. Is under eleven (11) years of age;
3. Is actively eating or drinking;
4. Is strenuously exercising or swimming;
5. Is seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired in a way that requires the mouth to be visible;
6. Is giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience;
7. Is working at home or alone in a vehicle;
8. Is temporarily removing his or her Face Covering to secure government or medical services or for identification purposes;
9. Would be at risk from wearing a Face Covering at work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines;
10. Has found that his or her Face Covering is impeding visibility to operate equipment or a vehicle; or
11. Is a child whose parent, guardian, or responsible person has been unable to place the Face Covering safely on the child’s face.
12. Children under two (2) years of age should not wear a face covering.

Frequently Asked Questions for Executive Order No. 147

This Frequently Asked Questions (‘FAQ”) document provides guidance for the
implementation of Executive Order No. 147 (“Order”). The Order extends North
Carolina’s “Safer At Home Phase 2” through 5:00 pm on July 17, 2020 with additional
amendments to protect public health. This information is subject to change in light of
new guidance from public health studies and the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (“CDC”) and additional Executive Orders or local government declarations.
Extending Phase 2

Why is North Carolina extending Safer at Home Phase 2?
The Governor and public health officials remain guided by science, data, and facts in making decisions regarding COVID-19. Since moving into Phase 2 on May 22, 2020, several key metrics have been trending in a concerning direction. North Carolina’s daily number of positive COVID-19 tests are continuing to increase; the percent of COVID-19 tests that are positive has remained high; emergency department visits for COVID-19 like illnesses are increasing; and hospitalizations for COVID-19 continue to increase. Doctors, public health officials, hospital administrators, and health care providers are concerned that unless the spread of COVID-19 is limited, existing health care facilities may not have the capacity to care for those who become sick.
Additionally, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified before Congress on June 23, 2020 that the “next couple weeks are going to be critical” in the country’s ability to address increasing rates of COVID-19 infection. In order to address these troubling metrics and slow the spread of COVID-19, North Carolina is continuing the measures of Executive Order No. 141, “the Phase 2 Executive Order” for an additional three weeks — and is imposing a face covering requirement — to slow the spread of this virus during the pandemic.

How long will North Carolina be in Safer at Home Phase 2?
The state will continue to be in Phase 2 until 5:00 pm on July 17, 2020.

What is changing in Safer at Home Phase 2?
Face coverings will be required in public places with some exceptions.
1
What stays the same in Safer at Home Phase 2?
All aspects of Phase 2 as delineated in Executive Order No. 141 remain in place, including:
• Certain businesses may be open with restrictions and following state health guidelines, including: restaurants; child care businesses; overnight and day
camps; personal care; grooming, massage, and tattoo businesses; and indoor and outdoor pools;
• People may gather together for social purposes, so long as they do not exceed the mass gathering limit of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors;
• Sporting and entertainment events may occur in large venues for broadcast to the public, so long as the number of spectators at the events is limited to the mass gathering limit of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
• Public playgrounds remain closed;
• Bars and nightclubs remain closed;
• Movie theaters, museums, bowling alleys, amusement parks, arcades, and skating rinks remain will closed;
• Bingo parlors and other gaming establishments will remain closed;
• Teleworking continues to be encouraged whenever possible;
• Visitation in skilled nursing homes and combination homes remains restricted except for certain compassionate care situations; and
• The following facilities that operate within an indoor space remain closed: martial arts facilities, dance studios, trampoline and rock-climbing facilities,
roller skating rinks, ice staking rinks, and basketball courts.

Face Coverings
Does this Order require North Carolinians to wear face coverings?
Yes. People are now required to wear face coverings in public spaces, whether inside or outside, where physical distancing of six feet is not possible. This includes but is not limited to:
• Retail Businesses: Retail businesses must have all workers wear face coverings.
Retail businesses must also have all customers wear face coverings when they are inside the establishment and may be within six feet of another person,
unless the customer comes under an exception identified in the Order. If a customer states that an exception applies, the retailer should try to make an
accommodation. The business may choose to provide curbside service, provide home delivery, allow the customer to enter without a face covering, or use some other reasonable measure to deliver goods.
• Restaurants: Restaurants must have all workers wear face coverings. Restaurants must also have all customers wear face coverings when not at their table, unless the customer comes under an exception identified in the Order.
• Personal Care, Grooming, and Tattoo Businesses: Personal care, grooming, and tattoo businesses must have workers wear face coverings. These businesses must also have all customers wear face coverings when they are inside the establishment and may be within feet of another person, unless an individual has an exception as outlined in the Order. If a customer states that an exception applies, the business may choose to have the customer wait outside for his or her appointment rather than sitting in a waiting room. Customers may take off their face coverings if they are receiving a facial treatment, shave, or other services on a part of the head which the face covering covers or by which the face covering is secured.
• Child Care Facilities: Child care, day camps, and overnight camps must have workers and all other adults wear face coverings. All children eleven years and older must also wear face coverings on site unless they have an exception. Children under two should not wear a face covering.
• State Government Employees: State government agencies headed by members of the Governor’s Cabinet must have their on-site workers wear face coverings. Other state and local government agencies are strongly encouraged to adopt similar policies.
• Transportation: All workers and riders on public or private vehicles, as well as all people in North Carolina airports, bus and train stations or stops, must wear face coverings. Passengers will not be denied access to public transportation for failure to use face coverings. This provision does not apply to people traveling alone with household members or friends in their personal vehicles, but does apply to ride-shares like Ubers and Lyfts, cabs, vans, and shuttles, even if the vehicles are privately owned.
• Manufacturing, Construction Sites, Agricultural Settings: Social distancing is difficult where multiple workers are together in manufacturing settings, at construction sites, and in migrant farm, other farm, and agricultural settings. This Order specifies that manufacturing, construction, and agriculture
businesses or operations must require workers to wear face coverings.
• Meat or Poultry Processing Plants: All workers in any meat or poultry processing plant, packing plant, or slaughterhouse must wear surgical masks, as
long as surgical mask supplies are available. If surgical masks are not available, cloth face coverings must be provided.
• Long Term Care Facilities: All workers in long term care (LTC) facilities, including skilled nursing facilities, adult care homes, family care homes,
mental health group homes, and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, must wear surgical masks while in the facility, as long as surgical mask supplies are available. Health care facilities other than LTC facilities must follow the face covering requirements in the CDC Infection Control Guidance for Healthcare Professionals about Coronavirus.

The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has released guidance to  the general public on the use of face coverings, and will make signage available to businesses. Guidance and signage are available at: https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/ guidance – phase-2-easing-of-restrictions.

What are some of the exceptions for wearing face coverings?
A face covering does not need to be worn by a worker, customer, or patron who meets one of the following exceptions:
• Should not wear a face covering due to any medical or behavioral condition or disability (including, but not limited to, any person who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious or incapacitated, or is otherwise unable to put on or remove the face covering without assistance);
• Is under eleven years of age;
• Is actively eating or drinking;
• Is strenuously exercising;
• Is seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired in a way that requires the mouth to be visible;
• Is giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience;
• Is working at home or is in a personal vehicle;
• Is temporarily removing his or her face covering to secure government or medical services or for identification purposes;
• Would be at risk from wearing a face covering at work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines;
• Has found that their face covering is impeding visibility to operate equipment or a vehicle; and/or
• Is a child whose parent, guardian, or responsible person has been unable to place the face covering safely on the child’s face. No proof or documentation is required if an individual falls into an exception category.

What is a cloth face covering?
A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It can be secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face. It can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton, silk, or linen. A cloth face covering may be factory-made or sewn by hand or can be improvised from household items such as scarfs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels. Ideally, a face covering has two or more layers. These face coverings are not intended for use by healthcare providers in the care of patients. Surgical Masks, Procedure Masks, and N95 respirators are not recommended for general public use or use in community settings, as these should be reserved for specific high-risk occupational settings, healthcare providers and other medical first responders in a health care setting.

When should I wear a cloth face covering?
You should wear face coverings when in public places, particularly when those locations are indoors or in other areas where physical distancing is not possible. Under this Order, face coverings are required in retail businesses, restaurants, personal care and grooming businesses, and several other settings.

How should I wear a cloth face covering?
Be sure to place the face covering over your nose and your mouth and keep it in place at all times while you wear it. Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing or adjusting a face covering and wash hands immediately after removing or adjusting.

How should I care for a cloth face covering?
Wash your cloth face covering frequently, ideally after each use, or at least daily. Have a bag or bin to keep cloth face coverings in until they can be laundered with detergent and hot water and dried on a hot cycle. If you must re-wear your cloth face covering before washing, wash your hands immediately after putting it back on and avoid touching your face. Discard cloth face coverings that:
• No longer cover the nose and mouth;
• Have stretched out or damaged ties or straps;
• Cannot stay on the face; and/or
• Have holes or tears in the fabric.

How well do cloth face coverings work to prevent spread of COVID-19?
Scientific evidence suggests that use of cloth face coverings by the public during a pandemic can help reduce disease transmission. Cloth face coverings can reduce the release of infectious particles into the air when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes. Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for staying six feet apart, washing hands, and staying home when ill.

Do I need to wear a face covering while exercising or walking outdoors?
No. If you are able to safely maintain at least six feet distance from others, you do not need to wear a face covering when exercising and walking outdoors.

Should children wear cloth face coverings?
Cloth face coverings should NOT be put on babies and children under the age of 2 because of danger of suffocation. Children over the age of 2 should wear cloth face coverings if they can reliably wear, remove, and handle cloth face coverings throughout the day.

What if I am a person with hearing loss and am concerned about not being able to read lips?
Deaf and Hard of Hearing people often use lipreading to help understand what those around them are saying. When people are wearing cloth face coverings, other communication strategies are needed. Try finding a cloth face covering that has a clear plastic area that allows the lips to be visible, writing notes back and forth, writing on a white board to communicate, using a free speech to text app on mobile device, and gesturing – or if needed stepping several additional feet back from the person and removing face cloth face covering long enough to communicate.

What if I am a person with, or I support someone with a disability who cannot wear a face covering?
Some people may have trouble breathing or sensitivity to having something placed over their face. If you or someone you support is unable to wear a cloth face covering, be sure to take other steps to help avoid unnecessary exposure.

What if I am worried about being profiled or being subjected to bias if I wear a
cloth face covering?
Some people may experience increased anxiety and fear of bias and being profiled wearing face coverings in public spaces – but wearing a cloth face covering protects your family, friends and neighbors. If you are the target of ethnic or racial intimidation as the result of adhering to the face covering provision or as a result of the pandemic, you are strongly encouraged to report the matter to law enforcement or other government entity. Everyone should be able to wear cloth face coverings without fear of profiling or bias, and any type of racial intimidation, profiling or bias for wearing a face covering should not be tolerated.

Will children have to wear face coverings at day or overnight camps, and at child care?
Children eleven years or older must wear face coverings at day or overnight camps when they are or may be within six feet of another person.
Will children in K-12 public schools be required to wear cloth face coverings? Masks are required for all school staff and adult visitors, and all middle and high school students when they are or may be within 6 feet of another person, unless the person (or family member, for a student) states that an exception applies. Cloth face coverings must be worn by students and staff inside school buildings, and anywhere on school grounds, including outside. They will also be required while traveling on buses or other transportation vehicles. Cloth face coverings remain strongly encouraged for
elementary school students, if appropriate for that child, but are not required for them.

How will the face covering requirement be enforced?
Citations related to this Order can be written to businesses or organizations that fail to enforce the requirement to wear face coverings. Operators of businesses and organizations are entitled to rely on their customers or patrons’ statements about whether or not they are exempt from the face covering requirements, and businesses and organizations do not violate this Order if they rely on customer or patron statements. Law enforcement personnel cannot criminally enforce the face covering requirements of this Order against individual workers, customers, or patrons. However, if a business or organization does not allow entry to a worker, customer, or patron because that person refuses to wear a face covering, and if that worker, customer, or patron enters the premises or refuses to leave the premises, law enforcement personnel may enforce the trespassing laws.

What if I am stopped by a law enforcement officer and directed to remove my face covering?
A person wearing a face covering for health and safety purposes must remove the face covering upon request by a law enforcement officer in any of the following circumstances:
• during a traffic stop, including a checkpoint or roadblock, as required by law; and
• when a law enforcement officer has reasonable suspicion or probable cause during a criminal investigation, as required by law.

What if I can’t afford face coverings?
If an individual cannot afford to buy face coverings, a cloth face covering may be sewn by hand or can be improvised from household items such as scarfs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels.

Other Topics
How does this Order impact policies set by local government?
Most of the restrictions in this order are minimum requirements. Local governments, like cities and counties, can impose greater restrictions but they cannot restrict state government operations or set different Emergency Maximum Occupancy requirements.

Do businesses have to report to the state, other employees, or customers when an employee tests positive? Do they have to close down?
Businesses should work with their local health departments on contact tracing and cleaning recommendations. Some facilities, such as child care settings and schools, do have to report positive cases. CDC guidance addresses what businesses need to do if  someone gets sick.

What is the mass gathering limit?
Gatherings of more than ten people in a single indoor space remains prohibited. In confined outdoor spaces, gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited. These mass gathering limits include parades, fairs, festivals, auditoriums, stadiums, arenas, conference rooms, and meeting halls.
The mass gathering limit does not apply to retail businesses, restaurants, personal care and grooming businesses, pools, child care, day camps, and overnight camps. In these settings, there are other restrictions, such as 50 percent reduced occupancy or putting six feet of distance between each group at a restaurant, to ensure that there is not overcrowding.

The prohibition on mass gatherings does not include gatherings for health and safety, to look for and obtain goods and services, for work, or for receiving governmental services. A mass gathering does not include normal operations at airports, bus and train stations or stops, medical facilities, libraries, shopping malls, and shopping centers. It also does not apply to the exercise of First Amendment rights like the right to attend a worship service. However, in these settings, people are strongly encouraged to follow the Three Ws (Wear a face covering, Wash hands, and Wait six feet apart from others), and should avoid congregating in groups.

Are bars allowed to open?
As under Executive Order 141, businesses that are principally engaged in the business of selling alcoholic beverages for onsite consumption remain closed in Phase 2.

Are water parks allowed to be open?
Water parks may be open to the extent they are operating pool facilities as defined under G.S. 130A-280, to include: plunge pools and run out lanes, wave pools, rapid rides, lazy rivers. However, they are not permitted to operate any “amusement device” as defined under § 95-111.3, which are regulated by the Department of Labor and include waterslides that exceed 15 feet of vertical drop.

Are weddings and funerals allowed to be held?
Yes. Even though there is no mass gathering limit on the people who may attend a wedding or funeral ceremony, receptions or visitations before or after weddings and funerals are subject to the mass gathering limit. Individuals are encouraged to follow the Three Ws (Wear a face covering, Wash hands, and Wait six feet apart from others) to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19.

Are parades and fireworks shows allowed to be held?
For parades and fireworks shows, no more than 25 spectators – the outdoor mass gathering limit – can gather in any confined place like a stadium or seating stand. Regardless of setting, people should socially distance to reduce COVID-19 spread.

Are college and professional sports going to be able to play with fans/spectators?
Spectators are allowed at entertainment or sporting venues, fitness events in indoor or outdoor gyms, exercise facilities, or fitness facilities, but must remain in compliance with the mass gathering limits and social distancing guidelines.

Should North Carolinians continue to work from home if possible?
Yes. All businesses in North Carolina are strongly encouraged to continue directing employees to telework, if possible. Additionally, non-essential travel and in-person meetings should be avoided.

Are there any visitation restrictions at long-term care facilities?
Yes, visitation in skilled nursing facilities and combination homes, which are nursing homes with assisted living facilities, is restricted to compassionate care situations.

What if I want to report a business or group not adhering to this Order?
You can report violations of this Order to your local law enforcement’s non-emergency line. People should not call 911 if they wish to report a violation and are encouraged to use non-emergency lines only.


Wednesday, June 24

Funds Still Available for Small Businesses

Small businesses struggling to overcome the hardships presented by COVID-19 can still apply for a forgivable loan program available through the Small Business Administration.

Terms of the signature Payroll Protection Program, part of the Congressional relief program known as the CARES Act designed to help those injured from the ripple effects of the novel coronavirus, have been eased and there is still more than $100 billion left in the fund to lend.

Time to apply is running out quickly though, said Thomas Stith, the SBA district director for North Carolina. PPP loans must be approved no later than June 30, so applications should be made through participating banks or community development financial institutions this week.

To find a list of where funds can be accessed, visit www.sba.gov/nc and look for the category SBA Finance.

Once the lending institution has vetted the business, loan approval can happen fairly quickly, he said.

The PPP program was designed to help employers keep workers on the payroll, Stith said. Initially, 75 percent of the loan was meant to cover payroll costs if the loan was to be forgiven. Under the new guidelines, though, only 60 percent of the loan must be used on payroll, and the remainder can cover other operational costs.

The program is targeted to help businesses with under 500 employees, nonprofit organizations and churches, as well as self-employed individuals.

“Current law allows for one PPP loan per small business,” Stith said, “but there is discussion in Congress about other ways we can support small business.”

Initially, the loan amount under PPP was based on the average payroll of a business or nonprofit multiplied by 2.5, and the funds granted were to be used within an eight-week period. New guidelines have now extended that time frame to 24 weeks.

“We’re encouraging small businesses and nonprofits to apply for this program if they haven’t pursued a PPP loan,” Stith said.

A list of places where loans are processed can be found on the SBA website.

Log jam

Stith acknowledged there were problems when PPP was rolled out.

Several in Haywood said they repeatedly applied for PPP, but were turned away by their long-term lending agency that was either out of funds or reserving the available funds for the best clients.

Other lending channels were quickly opened, Stith indicated, citing Paypal or Intuit. He said part of the rollout woes stemmed from the fact the program was instituted within a week from the time the legislation was passed and became law.

“We did 14 years worth of lending in 14 days,” he said. “There was a significant response initially. It’s important to highlight the results. Over $12 billion was provided in financial support in North Carolina through PPP. It did take time to get the efficiencies in processing.”

Disaster loans

A second pool of funding approved to aid small businesses is called the Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

The program offers forgiveness on the first $10,000 of the loan, with the remainder of the loan eligible to be repaid over 30 years at a rate of 3.75 percent. If the loan is to a nonprofit or religious organization, the rate is 2.75 percent, Stith said.

For this loan, applicants simply apply through the SBA website.

“This is literally an advance,” Stith said of the $1,000 per employee grant that caps at $10,000. “Even is you aren’t approved for a full EIDL, you still receive the grant.”

Business owners and nonprofits can apply for both the PPP and EIDL program, he added.

“This Congress, the administration and the treasury are working very cooperatively to respond to the needs of small business,” Stith said. “In North Carolina, there are 900,000 small businesses employing 1.7 million. They play a critical role in the economy.”

There has been a good response to the initiatives, but the COVID situation has placed new demands on small business owners. He predicted the SBA will continue to be involved in ways to ease that burden.


Friday, June 19

New Cases Reported in Haywood County

The Mountaineer

As residents prepare for summer vacations, Haywood health officials are urging them to exercise caution to protect themselves from COVID-19.

“People who travel to our common vacation spots near Haywood County are noticing no social distancing and few people wearing masks,” said Patrick Johnson, Haywood public health director. “We’re noticing vacation travelers are catching coronavirus.”

He said there is a potential cluster in neighboring Jackson County where a tourist from Georgia who later tested positive for the virus was spending time at the facility. Another facility employee traveled to an out-of-state local tourist destination, tested positive and and then transmitted the virus to coworkers, three who live in Haywood County. One person then transmitted the virus to a parent.

“We’re seeing exposure from these vacation trips to transmission at work,” Johnson said.

Haywood cases have been under fairly good control, said Dr. Mark Jaben, county medical director, but there are spikes Macon, Jackson counties, Pigeon Forge and in Myrtle Beach, which is a popular destination for Haywood residents. That means it is not the time to relax safety measures for self-protection or for protecting others.

“I just spoke with Mission Hospital, and there’s been a ramp up in hospitalization, with 25 percent of the ventilator cases from COVID,” Jaben said.

Three new COVID-19 cases in Haywood County confirmed between June 17 and June 18, brought the total case count since April 2 to 71. One of the three Haywood residents was exposed at work, another had out-of-state travel history to a vacation area and the third does not know how or where they were exposed.

Johnson said most people who test positive have a good idea of where they were exposed, but the latest case where neither the man nor his wife have any clue of where they could have been exposed is a sign of community spread.

Pools open

During a conference call with county and municipal officials, those operating swimming pools reported a successful roll-out.

“We’ve been surprised at how few people are coming to the pool,” said Waynesville town manager Rob Hites. “We’ve never come close to having even half our capacity, even with the swim teams practicing. There have been no objections to temperatures being taken or filling out the questionnaires.”

Canton Town Manager Jason Burrell said the system to allowing only Haywood residents in the facility, assigning wrist bands to ensure no more than 60 are in the water at one time and requiring children under age 16 to be accompanied by a parent have worked well.

“Folks are taking it very seriously,” Burrell said, adding the capacity is capped at 150, and markings have been added poolside to denote safe social distancing areas.

Johnson said times are being set aside where the department will test firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency healthcare workers and long-term care facility employees.

Government offices have been closed to the public since March, but plans call for them to reopen on June 29.

To date, there have been 71 positive COVID-19 cases followed in Haywood. Of those, nine are in isolation, 62 have recovered, and 63 are awaiting test results. Since April 1, 1,644 residents have been tested.


Tuesday, June 17

Haywood records 68th virus case

Haywood County Public Health received notice on June 16, that another county resident has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. This brings the number of cases recorded in Haywood County as of 3 p.m. on June 16,  to 68. The individual is in isolation at home.

The individual resides in Haywood County and has no recent out-of-state travel history. The individual was exposed at work. To protect individual privacy, no further information will be released. The CDC defines close contact as being within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 infection for 15 minutes or longer and without protection.

Total test numbers:

The current test numbers are as follows:

Negative tests   —   1,546

Positive  (Recovered)  —   59

Positive  (Sick or Isolated)  —  9

In testing    —   99

Total tested  —   1,713


Monday, June 16

COVID 19 Cases Continue to Creep UP

The Mountaineer

Haywood County Public Health received notice on June 12, that another two Haywood County residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

This brings the number of cases recorded in Haywood County as of noon on June 12, to 67. The individuals are in isolation at home.

The individuals reside in Haywood County. One has recent out-of-state travel history. The other is a close contact of an existing positive case. To protect individual privacy, no further information will be released. The CDC defines close contact as being within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 infection for 15 minutes or longer and without protection.

Based on the information provided by the individuals in close contact, county health officials will assess risks of exposure, determine which if any additional measures are needed such as temperature and symptom checks, quarantine, and/or testing.


Wednesday, June 10

COVID-19 test results

Negative tests — 1,144

Positive (Recovered ) — 49

Positive (isolated) — 16

In testing — 150

Total tested — 1,359


Thursday, May 27

Restaurants Opening in Maggie

 
Here is a partial list of restaurants and their plans for opening up. (Not all have gotten back to me.)
 
Country Vittles – Opening Friday 5/22 at 7:30 a.m. for take out. Will be open for dinner inside beginning at 5:00 p.m. Hours will be: Sunday – Thursday 6:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 6:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Closed Tuesday.
 
J Arthur’s Restaurant – To be announced
 
Maggie Valley Restaurant – To be announced
 
Organic Bean Coffee Shop – Opening Friday 5/22 from 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. for drive through and pick up. Regular hours: Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
 

Joey’s Pancake House – Opening Monday, June 1. 7 days a week from 7:00 a.m. – Noon.

 

Snappy’s Italian Restaurant – Open for carry out and curbside pick up only.
Maggie Valley Sandwich Shop – Open for lunch until 3:00 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday.
 
Frankie’s Italian Trattoria – Open Friday 5/22 for take out beginning at 3:00 p.m. and dining at 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Will be open Sunday 5/24. Closed Monday 5/25.
 
Maggie Valley Club/Pin High Pub – Open Friday 5/22 for dining at 5:00 p.m. Regular hours: Sunday – Wednesday 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Thursday, Friday and Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Reservations suggested for dinner.
 
Legend’s Sports Grill – Opening May 28th. Regular hours: Thursday – Saturday Noon – 10:00 p.m.; Sunday and Monday Noon – 9:00 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. Dine In, Curb Service and Takeout.
 
Rendezvous Restaurant and Tiki Bar – Open 5/22 at 5:00 p.m.
 
Sippers in the Valley – To be announced.

Four Additional Cases of Coronavirus

Four more Haywood County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a May 20 press release from Haywood County Public Health. “These are the 29th–32nd cases in the county,” the release said. “All are in isolation at home.”

None of the residents have recent out-of-state travel history. Two cases are indicative of community spread, one is related to workplace transmission and the fourth does not know how their exposure occurred.

Haywood County Public Health nurses are identifying close contacts of all of these individuals. To protect individual privacy, no further information will be released.

The CDC defines close contact as being within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 infection for 15 minutes or longer and without protection. Based on the information provided by the individuals in close contact, county health officials will assess risks of exposure, determine which if any additional measures are needed such as temperature and symptom checks, quarantine, and/or testing.

Moving Into Phase II


Tuesday, May 19

COVID-19 test numbers

Total — 544
Negative — 481
Positive — 12
Recovered — 16
Awaiting results — 38

Study of front-line essential workers on April 28
283 tested; all negative

Haywood County Public Health received notice May 18, that two more Haywood County residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

These mark the 27th and 28th cases. The individuals are in isolation at home.

The individuals are residents of Haywood County with no recent out-of-state travel history. One was exposed to the virus while out of the county at work, and the other is a community transmission case contracted here in Haywood County.

Haywood County Public Health nurses are identifying close contacts of these individuals. To protect individual privacy, no further information will be released.


Friday, May 15

COVID-19 test results

Negative — 420

Positive Recovered — 15

Positive — 7

Awaiting test results — 22

Total — 465

Study of essential front-line workers — 283 negative

Two new cases were confirmed this week.


Town of Maggie Valley Approves Marketing Plan

The Mountaineer

After initially discussing a $30,000 regional advertising plan earlier in the month, Maggie Valley’s board of aldermen settled on a $15,000 campaign.

The town took the vote last Tuesday evening at the regularly scheduled board meeting. While the initial, larger plan included a means of reaching out to folks via email and placing billboard ads in nearby cities like Greenville and Atlanta, that part was nixed.

Alderwoman Tammy Wight said she believed email would be ineffective and not worth the money.

“I either delete and don’t look at it, or I look at it and it doesn’t weigh on my decision at all,” she said.

Alderwoman Twinkle Patel agreed.

“I think Google has more power,” she said.

And that’s where the money will go. The town will work with Crawford Strategy out of Greenville to determine how to best use the money with an emphasis on Google, Facebook and Instagram advertisements. Because the Haywood County Tourism and Development Authority is paying for the administrative costs, the full $15,000 will go directly toward advertisements.

The plan will aim to reach people who have been to or are already aware of Maggie Valley to let them know the town will soon be open for business again by highlighting outdoor spaces and recreation opportunities. It will also likely be implemented in waves as different states adjacent to North Carolina change their restrictions.

“I think that those are people that have already been communicating that have been here before,” Mayor Mike Eveland said. “We can remind them about us and say ‘come back.’”

Wight explained her logic for wanting to use a smaller amount of money to fund the campaign for now.

“If we were to spend $30,000 right now, and we opened up and cases came back to the point we were shut back down, we used the whole $30,000 prematurely,” she said.

Although Town Manager Nathan Clark proposed that the money for the initial $30,000 campaign be drawn from the town’s $40,000 economic development fund, it was decided that the $15,000 be drawn from the general fund in hopes that the $40,000 can be used to turn a waterfall near the Maggie Valley Country Club into a recreation area.

While a $5,000 local advertising campaign was discussed, it was ultimately tabled and will be addressed at this Tuesday’s budget presentation.


Tuesday, May 12

Haywood County COVID-19 Call Center Hours Updated

Effective immediately, the Haywood County COVID-19 Hotline hours will be adjusted from  Monday – Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., to the new hours of Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The center will be closed on weekends.

The Hotline number 828-356-2019 remains the same. For assistance after hours or on the weekends call 2-1-1 or the NC Department of Health and Human Services at 1-888-892-1162.

As call volumes continue to decline, especially on Saturday, it is now appropriate to further reduce the operating hours to reflect the need. The call center hours will be continually adjusted as needs dictate in the future.

The school nurses, health and human services, and library staff have been doing an excellent job fielding calls and answering questions during this difficult time and their efforts remain invaluable, said Haywood County Emergency Services Director Greg Shuping.


Friday, May 8

Blue Ridge Parkway Announces Increased Access to Historic Motor Route

[Asheville, NC] – Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Blue Ridge Parkway officials are increasing recreational access to sections of the motor road previously closed to motor vehicle traffic in North Carolina. The National Park Service is working with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access to the Parkway and park sites across the country.

Beginning Saturday, May 9, 2020, the Blue Ridge Parkway will reopen gates providing motor vehicle access to the southernmost 14 miles of the park, from Milepost 454 – 469, in coordination with the Qualla Boundary and Great Smoky Mountains National Park planned reopening.

Beginning Friday, May 15, 2020, the Parkway will reopen gates providing motor vehicle access at the following locations in North Carolina, once initial seasonal mowing and road preparations are complete:

Milepost 292-296.5 near Blowing Rock, including Moses Cone Parking Area and Hwy 221 Bass Lake Parking Lot.
Milepost 298.6-308 through Grandfather Mountain area, including Rough Ridge and Linn Cove Viaduct
Milepost 316.4 Linville Falls Spur Road, including parking at Linville Falls trailheads
Milepost 334-342 including Crabtree Falls Area, near Little Switzerland, NC
Milepost 355-375.6 from Mt. Mitchell to Ox Creek, including Craggy Gardens
Milepost 377.4 Parking areas at Craven Gap (Town Mountain Rd) for MST Trail access
Milepost 384.7 Roadside parking at MST Trailheads at US 74A Parkway access ramps
Milepost 393-454 from French Broad River Overlook and south to Soco Gap

In addition, the following areas continue to be accessible:

All Parkway trails, and
All other sections of the motor route in North Carolina and Virginia previously accessible to motor vehicle traffic.

Road maintenance projects are underway in some of these areas, visitors may experience delays or one-lane closures and should check the Parkway’s Road Closure page at https://go.nps.gov/roadinfo for more information.

In alignment with federal and state public health guidance, the following areas remain closed at this time:

Road closure from Milepost 0 to 13 in Virginia,
Milepost 85.9 Peaks of Otter Visitor Center and Sharp Top Parking Areas closed,
Milepost 92.5 Sharp Top Parking Widening closed at Appalachian Trail crossing, and all

Seasonal visitor service facilities including campgrounds, picnic areas, restrooms and visitor centers.

“We are pleased to once again provide motor vehicle access to these popular Blue Ridge Parkway locations. We know the park’s recreation opportunities and scenic beauty provide important ways to connect with our natural environment during this time, and for many a leisurely drive on the Parkway provides solace,” said J.D. Lee, Superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway. “Our phased approach to the 2020 visitor season is focused on balancing the enjoyment and protection of this park with the enjoyment and protection of our visitors. I encourage everyone who visits the Parkway in the coming days to recreate responsibly while here, whether that’s social distancing on park trails or driving safely on this beautiful, scenic drive.”

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. In the coming weeks, the operational approach on the Blue Ridge Parkway will be to examine each facility function and service to ensure operations comply with current public health guidance and will be regularly monitored. Park officials will continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers.

While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders in North Carolina and Virginia, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.

The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Park officials will continue to monitor all functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19, and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.

Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted at www.nps.gov/blri and the Parkway’s social media channels. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus.

www.nps.gov/blri


Thursday, May 7

Haywood County Public Health received notice May 6, that a 19th Haywood County resident has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The individual is in isolation at home. This individual was exposed eight days prior to symptom onset.

The individual is a resident of Haywood County and has no recent out-of-state travel history. Haywood County Public Health nurses are identifying close contacts of this individual.


Tuesday, May 5

Negative tests   —   273

Positive (recovered)  —   5

Positive (sick or still in isolation)  —  13

Awaiting Results  —  50

Total tested   —  341

The 283-member study group comprised of front-line essential workers in Haywood all tested negative.


North Carolina to Slowly Open

The Governor announced today that many more businesses can open as of May 8, 2020. You can read the Executive Order 138 on the NC website: www.nc.gov. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions that may be very helpful to you. Please contact the Chamber if you have any other questions. The Chamber office can also assist retail owners with the guidelines for safely reopening and social distancing.

Frequently Asked Questions for Executive Order No. 138

This Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”) document provides guidance for the implementation of Executive Order No. 138 (“Order”). The Order moves North Carolina into “Phase 1” of easing certain COVID-19 restrictions to help revive the economy while protecting public health. This information is subject to change in light of new CDC guidance and additional Executive Orders or local government declarations.

When does Phase 1 go into place?
This Order begins Phase 1 at 5 PM on Friday, May 8, 2020 and remains in place through 5 PM on May 22, 2020.

Does this Order lift the Governor’s Stay at Home Order?
No, people should still stay at home, but it increases the number of reasons people are allowed to leave. All North Carolina residents should continue to stay at home except for the purposes outlined in this Order. Anyone who is feeling sick should stay home and should leave the house only to seek health care or for some other necessary reason.

What is different about Phase 1?
This Phase 1 Executive Order does the following:
• Eliminates the distinction between essential and non-essential businesses;
• Allows most retail businesses (with exceptions) that can comply with specific requirements to open at 50 percent capacity;
• Allows people to leave home for non-essential goods or services; • Encourages state parks and trails that are closed to open;
• Specifically allows people to gather outdoors while following the Recommendations to Promote Social Distancing and Reduce Transmission, and with up to ten people;
• Opens child care to working families; and
• Encourages North Carolinians to wear cloth face coverings when outside the home in order to protect others.

What stays the same in Phase 1?
This Phase 1 Executive Order does not change the following:
• A Stay at Home Order remains in place;
• Mass gatherings are generally limited to no more than ten people;
• Teleworking is encouraged;
• Social distancing, hand hygiene, and other methods to slow the spread of COVID-19 should be practiced, including staying at least six feet apart;
• Restaurants and bars remain closed for dine-in service and on-premises beverage consumption;
• Personal care and grooming businesses, including barber shops, beauty, hair, nail, and tanning salons, and tattoo parlors, remain closed;
• Entertainment facilities, including movie theaters, bowling alleys, and performance venues, remain closed;
• Fitness facilities such as health clubs and gyms remain closed;
• People may leave their homes to obtain medical services, obtain goods and services, engage in outdoor exercise, take care of others or volunteer;
• Playgrounds remain closed;
• Open retail businesses must meet certain requirements to ensure the safety of their employees and customers; and
• Visitation continues to be banned at long-term care facilities, except for certain compassionate care situations.

What are the allowable activities for which North Carolinians may leave their homes?
North Carolinians may leave their homes in Phase 1 to: • Work at any business, nonprofit, government, or other organization that is not closed by an Executive Order, or seek employment;
• Take care of health and safety needs, including to seek emergency medical services, obtain medical supplies and medication, or visit a health care professional or veterinarian;
• Receive goods, services, or supplies from any business or operation that is not closed by an Executive Order;
• Engage in outdoor activities, including to walk, hike, run, golf, hunt, fish, or bike outdoors;
• Take care of others, including assisting a family member, friend or pet, or attend weddings or funerals;
• Worship or exercise First Amendment rights, outdoors and following Recommendations to Promote Social Distancing and Reduce Transmission;
• Travel between places of residence, including child custody or visitation arrangements;
• Volunteer with organizations that provide charitable and social services;
• Gather at other people’s homes with no more than ten people outdoors while following Recommendations to Promote Social Distancing and Reduce Transmission Requirements; and
• Provide or receive government services.

Does this mean that residents of North Carolina are safe from COVID-19?
The State of North Carolina is guided by data and facts. Enough of the key indicators are moving in the right direction to make this transition to Phase 1. Public health experts’ analysis indicate that if restrictions are eased gradually with safety practices still in place, North Carolina can benefit from increased economic activity without a surge in new cases.
Despite this progress, COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus, and state officials will continue to monitor key metrics. COVID-19 spreads from person to person easily, especially indoors or if people come in close contact for more than ten minutes. While this Order will ease certain restrictions, there remains a need for a Stay at Home Order and other COVID-19 rules remain in place.

What does this Executive Order mean for North Carolina businesses?
Phase 1 removes the designation of essential and non-essential businesses, allowing a business to open if it can practice social distancing and other transmission reduction strategies. Retail businesses can operate at 50 percent capacity. A business cannot reopen if it has been specifically closed, such as bars, personal care or grooming establishments, and entertainment venues. North Carolinians are allowed to leave their homes to engage in commercial activity at businesses that are open.

What businesses must remain closed during Phase 1?
The following businesses remain closed:
• Restaurants remain closed for dine-in services, but may continue to stay open to provide drive-through, take-out, and delivery;
• Personal care and grooming businesses, including barber shops, hair salons, and nail salons, remain closed;
• Health clubs, fitness centers, gyms, and other indoor exercise facilities remain closed, including yoga studios, martial arts facilities, indoor trampoline and rock climbing facilities; and
• Entertainment facilities remain closed, including performance venues, movie theaters, bowling alleys, and indoor and outdoor pools.

Are North Carolina’s restaurants allowed to open for dine-in meals?
No. Based on public health advice, restaurants will remain closed for dine-in meals. Take-out, drive-through, and delivery services continue to be allowed.

What requirements do retail businesses need to follow?
All retail businesses open to the public must:
• Direct customers and staff to stay at least six feet apart except at point of sale if applicable;
• Limit occupancy to not more than 50 percent of stated fire capacity and ensure that social distancing of six feet apart is possible;
• Mark six feet of spacing in lines at point of sale and in other high-traffic customer areas;
• Perform frequent and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas with an EPA-approved disinfectant for COVID-19;
• Provide, whenever available, hand sanitizer stations, and ensure soap and hand drying materials are available at sinks;
• Conduct daily symptom screening of employees before entering the workplace and immediately send symptomatic workers home;
• Have a plan in place to immediately isolate an employee from work if symptoms develop; and
• Post signage at the main entrances to remind people about Recommendations to Promote Social Distancing and Reduce Transmission, to request people who are or have recently been symptomatic not to enter, and to notify customers of the reduced store capacity.

Retail businesses are also strongly encouraged to:

• Direct workers to stay at least six feet apart from one another and from customers, to the greatest extent possible;
• Provide designated times for seniors and other high-risk populations to access services; and
• Develop and use systems that allow for online, email, or telephone ordering, no-contact curbside or drive-through pickup or home delivery, and contact-free checkout.

High-volume retail businesses, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, are strongly encouraged to:
• Install acrylic or plastic shields at cash registers;
• Clearly mark designated entry and exit points; and
• Provide assistance with routing through aisles in the store.

What are recommended policies all businesses should follow to reduce the spread
of COVID-19?
In addition to the required activities above, all businesses, retail and otherwise, are strongly encouraged to:
• Continue to promote telework and limit non-essential travel whenever possible;
• Promote social distancing by reducing the number of people coming to the office, providing six feet of distance between desks, and/or staggering shifts;
• Limit face-to-face meetings to no more than ten people;
• Promote hygiene, including frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizer;
• Recommend employees wear cloth face coverings and provide employees with information on proper use, removal, and washing of cloth face coverings, which protect other people more than the wearer;
• Make accommodations for workers who are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19, such as having high risk workers work in a position that is not public facing;
• Encourage sick employees to stay home and provide support to do so by providing sick leave policies;
• Follow CDC guidance if an employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
• Provide education on COVID-19 strategies for staff such as videos, webinars, FAQs; and
• Promote information on helplines for employees such as 211 and Hope4NC  Helpline.

Does Phase 1 change the gathering limit of ten people?
Most gatherings of more than ten people are still prohibited.

Should North Carolinians continue to work from home if possible?
Yes. All businesses in North Carolina are strongly encouraged to direct employees to telework, if possible. Additionally, non-essential travel and in-person meetings should be avoided.

Does this Executive Order mean that I can gather freely with individuals outside of my household?
When Phase 1 starts, North Carolinians can once again hold small outdoor get-togethers that follow Recommendations to Promote Social Distancing and Reduce Transmission and do not have more than ten people. Because studies show that the risk of spreading COVID-19 is much greater indoors than outdoors, these social gatherings should be outdoors.

What does this Executive Order mean for schools and graduations?
School facilities remain closed for in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. NCDHHS, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI), and the North Carolina State Board of Education will continue to work together to provide for the educational needs, health, nutrition, safety, and well-being during the school closure period. Local school boards and superintendents will determine whether to conduct graduation and/or other year-end ceremonies. If these events are held, they must operate in compliance with all Executive Orders and NCDHHS and NCDPI guidelines in effect at the time of the event. Local school leaders are encouraged to engage with students and families to identify best solutions for their communities. Local plans should include consultation with local public health officials and, where appropriate, local law enforcement.

What does this Executive Order mean for childcare?
Childcare facilities will be open for the children of North Carolinians who are working at a business that is not closed by an Executive Order, who are seeking employment, or who are homeless or receiving child welfare services. Childcare facilities must follow the health and safety requirements in Executive Order No. 130 and all guidelines issued by NCDHHS.

What does this Executive Order mean for camps?
Day camps and programs for children and teens may operate only if they are in full compliance with the CDC’s guidance for these programs. Day camps may not allow sports except for those sports where close contact is not required, and any activities where campers cannot maintain at least a six foot distance from one another are not allowed. If a day camp is operating within a business, facility, or school that is closed per this Executive Order, the camp may operate but the location must otherwise remain closed to the general public. Overnight camps may not operate under Phase 1.

What does this Executive Order mean for parks, trails, and playgrounds?
The Order encourages the reopening of all state parks and trails. North Carolinians are encouraged to engage in outdoor activities, so long as they maintain Recommendations to Promote Social Distancing and Reduce Transmission. The same policies to reduce transmission in retail settings should be followed in parks. Public playgrounds remain closed under Phase 1 because public playground equipment may increase the spread of COVID-19.

What does this Executive Order mean for places of worship?
Places of worship may hold services that exceed the Mass Gathering Limit of ten people if those services are held outdoors in an unenclosed space and if attendees follow Recommendations to Promote Social Distancing and Reduce Transmission.

Does this Executive Order allow for people to stay at hotels or other short-term vacation rentals?
Yes, hotels and short-term vacation rentals are allowed. However, individuals should practice Stay at Home, Recommendations to Promote Social Distancing and Reduce Transmission, and other COVID-19 mitigation measures at any short-term rental. Rental landlords should follow CDC guidelines on cleaning hotels and rental units including using an EPA-approved disinfectant for COVID-19 between customers.

What actions are recommended to protect North Carolinians from contracting COVID-19 when they are not at home?
North Carolinians are encouraged to limit non-essential travel and stay at home if they are sick. People can protect themselves against the spread of COVID-19 by following the Phase 1 rules and remembering the three Ws:
• Wear a face covering;
• Wash your hands for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer; and
• Wait six feet apart from other people to keep your distance.

Does this Executive Order require North Carolinians to wear masks when outside the home?
It is strongly recommended but not required that a cloth face covering of the nose and mouth should be worn when you leave your house and may be within six feet of other people who are not household and family members. This would include indoor community, public and business settings. These coverings function to protect other people more than the wearer. Face coverings should also be worn outdoors when you cannot stay at least six feet away from other people. Some populations experience increased anxiety and fear of bias and being profiled if wearing face coverings in public spaces, but everyone should adhere to this guidance without fear of profiling or bias. If someone is the target of ethnic or racial intimidation as the result of adhering to the protective nose and mouth covering guidance or as a result of the pandemic, they are encouraged to report the matter to local law enforcement agencies or other government entities.

What if I am stopped by a law enforcement officer and directed to remove my face
covering?
A person wearing a cloth face covering for the purposes of ensuring the physical health or safety of the wearer or others needs to remove the cloth face covering, upon request by a law enforcement officer, in any of the following circumstances:
• During a traffic stop, including a checkpoint or roadblock, as required by law; and/or
• When a law enforcement officer has reasonable suspicion or probable cause during a criminal investigation, as required by law.

Are funerals allowed under Phase 1?
Yes, funerals continue to be permitted to have up to fifty people in attendance. People attending a funeral should observe Recommendations to Promote Social Distancing and Reduce Transmission as much as possible.

Are individuals allowed to gather but stay in their vehicles in Phase 1?
Yes, events such as drive-in worship services or drive-in movies are allowed if all participants stay inside their vehicles.

Why does the Executive Order allow for some gatherings outdoors but not indoors?
When people gather together, there is always a risk of transmitting COVID-19. Therefore, gatherings of large groups of people must be restricted in accordance with this Executive Order. Where people gather together indoors, the air they breathe is recirculated, and they are likely to touch the same surfaces. As a result, the risk of spreading COVID-19 is high. A recent study found that people spread diseases like COVID-19 in a closed, indoor environment at a rate 18.7 times higher than when they are outdoors in an open-air environment.

How does this Executive Order impact policies set by local government?
Most of the restrictions in this order are minimum requirements, and local governments, like cities and counties, can impose greater restrictions. However, local governments cannot restrict state government operations, and local restrictions cannot set different requirements for the maximum occupancy standard of retail establishments.

This Executive Order is Phase 1 of lifting restrictions. What will be the next restrictions the Governor will lift in Phase 2, and when will that happen?
The end of this Order does not necessarily mean the state will move to Phase 2. Phase 1 will be extended unless data shows the state is prepared to move to Phase 2. Phase 2 will likely open more businesses to the public. Social distancing, hand hygiene, and use of cloth face coverings will still be recommended. Depending on state COVID-19 trends, restrictions may be lifted more slowly or some restrictions might have to be re-instated to ensure the health and safety of North Carolinians.

Why is it an appropriate time to lift some restrictions related to COVID-19?
North Carolina is guided by data and science. State officials are monitoring key metrics to know when it is acceptable to move to the next phase of easing restrictions. This is a careful, deliberate process because removing all restrictions at once would cause a dangerous spike in infections that North Carolina has so far avoided. Public health experts and analyses indicate that if we gradually ease restrictions but keep safety practices in place, North Carolina can benefit from economic recovery without a renewed outbreak.

The key metrics show that North Carolina can move to Phase 1, which keeps critical safety measures in place. People can protect themselves against the spread of COVID-19 by following the Phase 1 rules and remembering the three Ws:
• Wear a face covering;
• Wash your hands for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer; and
• Wait six feet apart from other people to keep your distance.


Friday,  May 1

COVID-19 test numbers

Negative – 244

Positive (recovered) – 5

Positive (sick) – 5

Awaiting results – 33

Total tested – 287


10th positive case reported

Haywood public health officials reported a 10th novel coronavirus case was found in the county Thursday, the fifth in four days. Read more here.


Asymptomatic test results expected today

A coronavirus study in Haywood tested 283 front-line essential retail workers on Tuesday to get a statistical sample of the extent of the virus spread in the community. The results are expected today. Watch news updates on The Mountaineer website.


Thursday, April 30

Haywood COVID Infections Up to Ten

COVID-19 test results received today showed another positive case within Haywood. This brings the number of novel coronavirus cases in the county up to 10. This case is unrelated to the 282-person study conducted Tuesday where front-line retail workers were tested for the virus. Haywood County Public Health officials said the individual is a resident of Haywood County and has no recent out-of-state travel history. The person is in isolation at home.

Five of the 10 cases are considered recovered.


Wednesday, April 29

COVID-19 test results for Haywood County

Negative: 241
Positive: 2
Recovered: 5
Awaiting results: 20
Total tested in Haywood co.: 268


No new retail openings

Despite advice on a conference call last Friday that businesses could reopen under a section of N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper’s latest executive order, Haywood County Attorney Frank Queen said nothing has changed about what businesses (retail or not) are deemed essential and allowed to remain open since the Governor’s March 27, executive order.

The order defines essential businesses to include “Businesses, not-for-profit organizations or educational institutions that conduct operations while maintaining social distancing requirements.”

The additional rules of an April 9, executive order simply added additional rules and requirements for retail businesses and operations that were already permitted to operate.

Regarding hospitality and leisure travel, Queen stated Haywood County’s more restrictive proclamation prohibiting short-term rentals for leisure purposes is more restrictive than the states, thus remains in effect.

“Some hospitality owners in Haywood and other local counties believe – and have communicated – that if the county’s local proclamation was rescinded, then that would eliminate the barrier to those businesses becoming open for leisure travelers,” Queen wrote. “This is not correct.”

The State’s Executive Order 121 continues to ban travel for leisure purposes and has been extended to May 8. This order remains effective regardless of any action that a local county might take regarding short-term rentals. If the State’s order is extended past May 8, it would continue to impact travel to leisure destinations, Queen stated.


Tuesday, April 28

Additional Information on Retail Operations and Short Term Rentals

28 April 2020
From: Frank G. Queen, County Attorney
Subjects: — Retail establishments affected by Executive Order 131 and Haywood County Emergency Proclamation.
— Short-term rentals as affected by state prohibition of leisure travel

In order to provide uniformity to the interpretation of the State and Local orders on these subjects, I have been asked to provide this guidance.

A. Background – Retail Establishments
Haywood County amended its proclamation of emergency on March 26, 2020 by adopting a set of “stay home – stay safe” rules. The next day, March 27, 2020, the state of North Carolina, acting through Governor Cooper’s Executive Order #121, adopted its own “stay at home” rules. On April 9, 2020, by Executive Order # 131, the state adopted an additional set of rules specifically governing retail establishments, requiring the owners to limit the number of customers on the premises and requiring specific social distancing procedures.

Issue:
What retail establishments may be open under the local and state rules?
Nothing has changed about what businesses (retail or not) are deemed essential and allowed to remain open since the Governor’s March 27, 2020 Executive Order # 121. Only Essential Activities, Essential Businesses and Operations, and Essential Travel (as defined in the county proclamation or Executive Order # 121) may operate during the state of emergency, but the Governor’s Executive Order # 121 has a very broad definition of essential businesses. Section 2.C.1 of that order defines essential businesses to include “Businesses, not-for-profit organizations or educational institutions that conduct operations while maintaining Social Distancing Requirements: between and among its employees; and between and among employees and customers except at the point of sale or purchase.”

The additional rules of Executive Order # 131, dated April 9, 2020, simply added additional rules and requirements for retail businesses and operations that were already permitted under the prior rules. This interpretation is made clear in Section 1 of Executive Order # 131, which opens with these words: “All retail establishments that are permitted to operate under Executive Order # 121 or under any Order issued by a political subdivision of the State are required to take additional steps specified in this section . . . .”

This interpretation is further bolstered by subsection E of Section 1 of Executive Order # 131, which reads:
E. “No New Authority to Remain Open. Nothing herein shall be deemed to authorize a business to operate which does not currently qualify as a COVID- 19 Essential Business and Operation under Executive Order No. 121. Likewise, nothing herein shall be deemed to authorize a business to operate if it has been deemed nonessential or otherwise has been ordered to be closed by a political
subdivision.”

As this analysis demonstrates, Executive Order # 131 made no change in the definition of Essential Businesses or Activities since the March 27 rules of Executive Order # 121 and the county’s proclamation of March 26.

B. Hospitality and leisure travel
Background –
Haywood County and the other western counties of North Carolina (joined by many other counties across the state) have enacted local proclamations affecting short-term rentals. Most of these proclamations, like Haywood County’s, prohibit or limit short-term rentals for leisure purposes. Because the county proclamations are more restrictive that the State’s Executive Orders, they remain in effect, even if the state does not specifically address short-term rentals. Some hospitality owners in Haywood and other local counties believe – and have communicated – that if the county’s local proclamation was rescinded, then that would eliminate the barrier to those businesses becoming open for leisure travelers. This is not correct.

The State’s Executive Order 121 continues to ban travel for leisure purposes (Section 1.2.: “Only travel for Essential Activities as defined herein is permitted.”). This Executive Order, which has been extended to May 8, will severely limit travel to vacation destinations like the mountains of North Carolina. The State’s order remains effective regardless of any action that a local county
might take regarding short-term rentals. If the State’s order is extended past May 8, it would continue to impact travel to leisure destinations. Under Governor Cooper’s announced plans for a phased rescission of the state’s proclamation, leisure travel would become permitted, at the earliest, after the implementation of Phase 2, some two or three weeks after the successive initiation
of Phase 1. All of those dates are subject to change depending on the rate of infection across the state and other indicators.


Monday, April 27

Small Business Administration’s Additional Funding

According to the US Small Business Administration “Additional Funding Notice: The SBA will resume accepting Paycheck Protection Program applications from participating lenders on Monday, April 27, 2020 at 10:30am EDT. With the additional funding provided by the new COVID-19 relief package, SBA will resume EIDL Loan and Advance applications that are already in the queue on a first come, first-served basis.” Additional information on SBA Coronavirus (COVID-19): Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources is included in the link www.sba.gov.

A highlight of HCC Small Business Center Training Opportunities are also included below. Of particular note are the upcoming Social Media Marketing Virtual Summit, Nonprofit Series and a NEW Business Resiliency Webinar Series. The HCC Small Business Center has launched additional webinars to meet the needs of current and prospective small business owners alike.

As always, remember, the  Small Business Center at Haywood Community College is here to assist you on your small business journey.


COVID test results as of April 27

Negative 229

Recovered 4

Positive still sick 1

Await results 9

Total 243


Wednesday, April 22

The Town Board voted and approved the following changes to the Festival Grounds Calendar of Events last night. Shelly will get us a printable list  of all the updates when she is back to work at Town Hall. I will forward that to you when I receive it.

Slingshots in the Smokies:
Original Dates: May 27-30, 2020
New Dates August 10-16, 2020

Kustom Kemps/Icons in the Smokies
Original Dates: May 15-16, 2020
New Dates August 22-23, 2020

SE Mini Truckin’ Nationals
Original Dates: Dates April 24-26, 2020
New Dates: October 23-25, 2020

The following events have been cancelled

    • Thunder in the Smokies:  May 1-3, 2020 (Thunder in the Smokies June & September events planned as scheduled)
    • Americana Featuring Balsam Range & Atlanta Pops: May 24, 2020
    • Elk Fest: August 22-23, 2020

Tuesday, April 21

WNC Conference at Lake Junaluska Postponed

Bishop Leeland and the Cabinet have made the decision to postpone the Western North Carolina Annual Conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead of our traditional three-day event, the decision has been made to hold a one-day Annual Conference session on the afternoon of Saturday, August 8 at Lake Junaluska.


COVID-19 test results

Negative  — 172

Positive recovered  — 3

Positive — 2

Awaiting results — 19

Total tested  —  196


Monday, April 20

COVID -19 test results

• Negative: 179

• Positive: 2

• Recovered: 3

• Awaiting results: 2

Total: 186


The Holston Annual Conference 2020 has been postponed. Dates, times, and places are currently being discussed, and more information will be coming soon.

For more information you can visit the Holston Conference website: www. holston.org

Other events that have been canceled at Lake Junaluska  include the SDA Carolina Camp Meeting, Music and Worship Arts Week and the Salvation Army Bible Conference. We will not cancel any Lake Junaluska-sponsored events like the Balsam Range concert until 30 days before the event unless otherwise mandated by local, state or federal guidelines.


 Statement from Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and Administrator Jovita Carranza on the Success of the Paycheck Protection Program

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin issued the following statement regarding the success of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP):

“The Treasury Department and SBA launched the unprecedented Paycheck Protection Program in just one week.  Following its launch, the SBA processed more than 14 years’ worth of loans in less than 14 days, which will protect a vast number of American jobs.

“The PPP enjoyed broad-based participation across the country from lenders of all sizes and a wide array of industries and businesses.  From its start on April 3, PPP provided payroll assistance to more than 1.6 million small businesses in all 50 states and territories.  Nearly 5,000 lenders participated in this critical program, including significant lending by community banks and credit unions.  Nearly 20% of the amount approved was processed by lenders with less than $1 billion in assets, and approximately 60% of the loans were approved by banks with $10 billion of assets or less. No lender accounted for more than 5% of the total dollar amount of the program.

“The vast majority of these loans—74% of them—were for under $150,000, demonstrating the accessibility of this program to even the smallest of small businesses.

“The PPP provided funds to a wide variety of industries in all sectors of the economy, including construction, manufacturing, food and hospitality services, health care, agriculture, and retail, among many others.  This demonstrates the broad diversity of PPP and its support for American workers across the board.

“The Paycheck Protection program is saving millions of American jobs and helping small businesses get through this challenging time.  We urge Congress to protect millions more American workers and their families by appropriating additional funding to support PPP.”

Click HERE to view the data.


Friday, April 17

Thanks to The Mountaineer for providing much of the information that is posted here for you. You can access their complete COVID-19 updates at newsletter@themountaineer.com.

COVID-19 testing

Negative: 153

Positive 1

Recovered 3

Await 25

Total 182


Thursday, April 16

Chamber Extends 2019 Membership Benefits

The Maggie Valley Chamber Board of Directors have extended the 2019 Membership period due to most of our businesses being closed because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Annual Memberships are usually renewed in May of each year. The Board voted to extend the membership year until July 1. This means that you will continue to receive your Chamber membership benefits for free during May and June. Invoices will be sent out at the end of June, payable on July 1 and will be a full 12 -month membership period (through June 30, 2021). Memberships can be paid in full or we can set up monthly or quarterly payments.

Maggie Valley Chamber  membership dues and festivals are our only source of income. We no longer receive any support from the HCTDA for our operations. We hope that when we are able to reopen our businesses,  you will continue to be a member of the Maggie Valley Chamber Family. We are all in this together. We will get through this together!

Thank you for your continued support!


 

Our small businesses are the heart of our community!

Each of you play a vital role in our local economy and the Haywood Community College Small Business Center is here to assist you, the small business owner as you navigate your small business journey.

We invite you to join us for the first Business Resiliency Hour, hosted in coordination with the Haywood Chamber of Commerce and the WCU SBTDC. This one hour weekly, virtual meet-up is your opportunity to: Ask questions, Voice concerns, Gain Information, and Get Connected to the resources needed to assist you in building business resiliency. To register for the Business Resiliency Hour visit – https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Xg6G3EUSSkOWj-zPM2hDCQ.

COVID-19 testing

Negative: 147

Positive 1

Recovered 3

Await 22

Total 173

Haywood reports its fourth positive test
The Mountaineer

A COVID-19 test returned Wednesday came back positive. Luckily, the test was just send in four days earlier, much quicker than the typical 11-day turnaround that’s been typical, said Haywood County Public Health Director Patrick Johnson.

Tests sent in by the county go to the state lab, but those handled by other providers are sent to LabCorps, which had a significant backlog. The company has opened two other testing facilities in the nation, which has led to a much quicker turnaround, Johnson said.

Read story here and read previous story on COVID-19 testing in Haywood here.

Parkway announces additional closures

The Blue Ridge Parkway has closed more areas to slow the spread of COVID-19, including several in Western North Carolina.

They include MP 355 – 375.6 — Road closed from Mt. Mitchell to Ox Creek, including Craggy Gardens; MP 377.4 — Parking areas closed at Craven Gap (Town Mountain Road) for MST Trail access; MP 384.7 —  Roadside parking closed at MST Trailheads at U.S. 74A Parkway access ramps; MP 393 – 469 — Road closed from French Broad River Overlook to Southern Terminus of Parkway.

National forest roads, trails shut down

On Monday, Pisgah National Forest will temporarily shut down dispersed camping and the roads and trails, many of them in Haywood County.

The action prohibits being on certain roads and trails, entering or using a developed recreation site, or camping on the Pisgah National Forest until Aug. 13, 2020, or until rescinded.

See complete list of closures here.


Tuesday, April 14

COVID-19 test results

Total tests administered — 161

Negative — 139

Recovered — 3

Awaiting results —19


Friday, April 10

COVID-19 tests

129 negative

0 positives; 3 recovered

17 awaiting results

149 total


Governor’s Retail Social Distancing Rule

Beginning at 5 p.m. Monday, April 13, essential retail businesses must ensure that occupants don’t exceed more than 20 percent of their fire occupancy rate.

The new directive came Thursday afternoon at the directive of N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper, who said the new rule was to keep stories from becoming a flashpoint for spread of the coronavirus. The action would also keep customers and store employees safer, he said.

In addition, aisles must be marked one-way, hours need to be set aside to allow shopping for the elderly, and frequent cleaning is required.


Thursday, April 9

A Message From Thunder in the Smokies

We hope to find you all doing okay during these troubled times. We regretfully announce the Spring Thunder in the Smokies Rally in Maggie Valley, NC is canceled due to COVID-19.

We are Americans, we are strong, and we will get through this together. Help those that may need help through these difficult times. Thank you for all the support over the years.

We will see you at the Summer Rally, June 26-28, 2020. Until then ride free and safe.

-Chris and Lori
Thunder in the Smokies


HAYWOOD COUNTY

Negative results 124

Positive results 3 – all “recovered”

Awaiting results 17

Total tested 144


Haywood Recovery Fund

The Haywood Chamber of Commerce, Haywood Economic Development, Haywood Advancement Foundation and Haywood County Government have all teamed together and formed #HaywoodStrong #HaywoodRecovery fund. This fund will be established through private donations and contributions.

The #HaywoodStrong #HaywoodRecovery is specifically for those who have been impacted by COVID-19 crisis by providing bridge funding for small businesses.

To start the fund, the Haywood County Government committed $100,000 and Haywood Advancement Foundation $250,000. We anticipate those funds will be depleted in a very short period of time.

We cannot do this alone and need you to join us at #HaywoodStrong #HaywoodRecovery community and make a donation to Haywood Advancement Foundation a 501(c)3 . A little can go a long way in aiding our local Haywood businesses as we face the challenge of recovery. Together we will remain strong, unified and resilient.

Applications are being processed by our community partner, Mountain Bizworks.

For more information contact the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce or visit their website.


Don’t Fall Victim To Small Business Loans

The Mountaineer

In March, the federal government enacted a $2 trillion federal relief package — the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)—to help offset some of the financial difficulties that individuals, families, and businesses have faced as a result of the economic impacts and job losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CARES Act includes the Paycheck Protection Program, a $350 billion effort to offer loans to small businesses to help keep their employees employed, as well as additional Economic Injury Disaster Loan funding.

As the Small Business Administration (SBA) implements this program, N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein warns there are some things small business owners should be aware of as they apply for loans or other financial relief to keep scammers and fraudsters from compounding your financial pain:

· Don’t be fooled by phishing attempts. The SBA has noted that it does not initiate contact on either 7a or disaster loans or grants, so if you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the SBA about these funds, it is likely a scam.

· You do not need to pay any fees to receive these relief payments and loans, and no one can speed up the time it takes for you to receive the payment. Anyone making such offers to you is a scammer.

· Don’t fall for lending scammers. If you’re working to get a relief loan, be careful of scammers disguised as lenders who come out of the woodwork and claim to be able to help you get the loan you need. Stick to local banks or lenders you’ve worked with before or are already familiar with, get recommendations from people you trust, or contact any federally insured bank, federally insured credit union, or Farm Credit System institution to find out if they are participating.

· If you receive an email or correspondence that asks for your Personally Identifiable Information (PII) related to an SBA loan application, be sure that the email is legitimate. Review the sender’s email address (legitimate communications will come from sba.gov) and make sure the referenced PII number matches the one you have on record.

· Watch out for debt negotiation or debt settlement scams. Avoid companies or out-of-state lawyers that offer to eliminate or cut your debts, including your tax debt, by negotiating with your creditors or the IRS – they often charge large fees and may leave you even deeper in debt. Under North Carolina law, it’s illegal to collect any upfront fee for debt settlement services – don’t pay these fees and question any company that charges them.

For additional guidance related to the COVID-19 response, please visit the SBA’s resource page [sba.gov] or the North Carolina Department of Commerce. Please report any suspected fraud to the SBA’s Office of the Inspector General here [sba.gov] or by telephone at 800-767-0385, and to the NCDOJ’s Consumer Protection Division at https://ncdoj.gov/complaint [ncdoj.gov] or 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.


April 8

HAYWOOD COUNTY –
Negative results 116

Positive results 3 – two out of the three are now considered “recovered”

Awaiting results 23

Total tested 142

APRIL 7

Stay At Home Order Extended to May 4

At the Board of County Commissioners meeting this morning, the Board approved to extend the Revised Joint Proclamation from Haywood County and All Municipalities to May 4, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. To read the full Proclamation please visit: www.haywoodcountync.gov.

You can also call the COVID-19 Hot Line: 828.356.2019.


APRIL 6

THIRD PERSON IN HAYWOOD TESTED POSITIVE

Haywood County Public Health received notice April 5, that another Haywood County resident has tested positive for COVID-19. The individual is in isolation at their home.

The resident of Haywood County has no out of state travel history. Haywood County Public Health nurses are identifying close contacts of this person. To protect individual privacy, no further information will be released. The CDC defines close contact as being within approximately 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 infection for a prolonged period of time of 10 minutes or longer. Based on information provided by the individuals in close contact, county health officials will assess risks of exposure, determine which if any additional measures are needed such as temperature and symptom checks, quarantine and/or testing.

April 4

The most recent statistics for COVID-19 testing in Haywood County include:

Negative: 106

Positive: 2

Awaiting results: 16

Total tests: 124

Court proceedings postponed until June 1

Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has issues an order that:

• Postpones court proceedings for a second time to June 1, 2020

• Authorizes court proceedings to be conducted by remote audio and video transmissions

• Allows use of a sworn statement under penalty of perjury rather than notarization for court filings and oaths

• Allows service of court documents by email

• Extends the deadline for payment of most fines and fees by 90 days and directs clerks not to report failures to pay court debt to the DMV.

 

Shady ethics for small business loans?

Several small business owners in Haywood are reporting their local bank is not allowing them to apply for the payroll protection loans that were supposed to be available under the federal $2.1 million federal legislation.

The notification, some say, came without putting up an online application portal, causing them to wonder whether those receiving the loans were being hand-picked by the banking establishment to favor larger customers.

The Small Business Administration loans are only available to businesses through their personal bank, so a denial to apply means these businesses have no options.

If anyone would like to talk about their experience, send an email to news@themountaineer.com or call Vicki at 828-452-0661.

N.C. gears up to process unemployment claims

N.C. Rep. Joe Sam Queen said during a virtual town hall meeting Saturday that that state had added an extra 50 employees to help process unemployment claims.

The state used to process about 1,000 claims a week and now have 400,000 claims in the system. The maximum amount employees will receive under state benefits is $350 for up to 12 weeks, but the federal stimulus package will add funding that will bring the amount up to $600, depending on an individual’s wage before becoming unemployed.

The federal per person payments of $1,200 should be provided within a couple weeks to every taxpayer earning less than $75,000 and any couple earning less than $150,000. Children under age 18 will receive $500.

Haywood County NC Government Following

32 mins

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 2, 2020

Haywood County Public Health received notice April 2, 2020 that two Haywood County residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

These individuals live together and are doing well in isolation at their home. They have followed CDC recommended guidance since the onset of initial symptoms in mid- March.

Both are residents of Haywood County with no out of state travel history.

Haywood County Public Health nurses are identifying close contacts of these persons. The CDC defines close contact as being within approximately 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 infection for a prolonged period of time of 10 minutes or longer. Based on information provided by the individuals in close contact, county health officials will assess risks of exposure, determine which if any additional measures are needed such as temperature and symptom checks, quarantine and/or testing.

To protect individual privacy, no further information will be released.

These are the only cases of COVID-19 identified in Haywood County to date. As of April 2, 2020 the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services was reporting 1,857 cases across the state.

“We have been planning and preparing for cases of COVID-19 in our community,” said Haywood County Health Director Patrick Johnson. “The Haywood County Health Department will aggressively trace, test and contain anyone we identify who was exposed to this virus.”

Because COVID-19 is most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, North Carolinians should take the same measures that health care providers recommend to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses, including:

•Practice social distancing. This is the number one enemy of COVID-19. To prevent community spread we need everyone to take social distancing seriously!

•Wash your hands regularly with soap and running water for 20 seconds.

•Regularly sanitize frequently-touched surfaces.

•Avoid touching your face.

•Cover coughs and sneezes, preferably with your elbow to avoid transferring germs to your hands.

•Stay home if you are sick

It is important to make sure the information you are getting about COVID-19 is coming directly from reliable sources like the CDC and NCDHHS.

For more information, please visit the CDC at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus, NCDHHS at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus, and the Haywood County NC Government website.

Residents are encouraged to call 828-356-2019 for questions or concerns related to COVID-19.

April 2

Haywood is still COVID-19-free

Total tests: 117
Negative 85
Positive: 0

Awaiting results: 32


April 1

Quarantine Enforcement
The Mountaineer

Some of the more frequent calls fielded at the Haywood County COVID-19 call center are reports about visitors from known infected areas such as New York, or second homeowners returning to the county from Florida.

Callers complain that the 14-day self-quarantine rules that apply in the county aren’t being followed.

Haywood County Sheriff Greg Christopher is one of several who is on the front lines following up on the complaints.

“We’re pushing education and dialogue,” Christopher said. “We’ve been doing that most of the day, and everyone we’ve dealt has been very receptive. Some didn’t know about the county ordinance, and especially the part that talked about lodging, the self-quarantine and self-reporting.”

Christopher said when visits are made, a copy of the ordinance is presented and officers attempt to answer any questions.

“Everybody we’ve dealt has been extremely receptive and telling us they will self-quarantine,” he said.

For local residents who are concerned about second- homeowners returning or about those in the neighborhood who appear to be renting out rooms or cabins on their property, Christopher encouraged them to report the issue to the call center at 356-2019.

“If we can ease people’s fear, that’s what the Sheriff’s office wants to do,” he said. “Our office will continue to follow up on these leads.”

Law officers in the county have the authority to issue a citation if individuals fail to comply with the proclamation or are found to be out and about after they have been informed of the rules, Christopher added.

“But that would only be after we exhausted all efforts,” he emphasized. “We  want to work with our folks and continue to push that education and dialogue.”

Here is the section of the Haywood County proclamation that pertains to travel, lodging, and those who have been outside the county for more than three days.

The rules apply to any type of facility providing lodging for non-essential travelers: hotels, bed and breakfasts, AirBnbs, vacation rentals by owner and campgrounds, but not to travelers who are undertaking essential activities, or who are working for essential businesses.

Residents returning to the county after non-essential travel outside the county for more than three days must self quarantine for 14 days.

Residents (full-time or seasonal) who are returning to their home in the county from outside the county after non-essential travel of more than three days are also to comply with a self-quarantine for 14 days.

During the quarantine period, individuals should not leave their residence.


3-31

A Message From AirBnB:

Dear Host,What a devastating couple of months this has been for all of us. Like many of you, I wake up every day distanced from friends and co-workers, wondering what the world has in store. As I see the news every day, my heart goes out to all the countries, communities, and families that are being overwhelmed by the scale and impact of this crisis.Amidst all this, the global travel industry has come to a halt. Airlines are grounded and borders are closed. Most of us—including our guests—are on government advised lockdowns, unable to leave our homes. Travel as we know it is almost impossible.On March 11, when the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, we were faced with a dilemma. If we allowed guests to cancel and receive a refund, we knew it could have significant consequences on your livelihood. But, we couldn’t have guests and hosts feel pressured to put themselves into unsafe situations and create an additional public health hazard. We determined that we had to allow your guests to cancel and receive a full refund—including all our fees. Please know this decision was not a business decision, but based on protecting public health.However, while I believe we did the right thing in prioritizing health and safety, I’m sorry that we communicated this decision to guests without consulting you—like partners should. We have heard from you and we know we could have been better partners.Although it may not have felt like it, we are partners. When your business suffers, our business suffers. We know that right now many of you are struggling, and what you need are actions from us to help, not just words.Here are some actions we are taking to help you navigate the crisis.We will pay $250 million to hosts to help cover the cost of COVID-19 cancellations.
When a guest cancels an accommodation reservation due to a COVID-19 related circumstance, with a check-in between March 14 and May 31, we will pay you 25% of what you would normally receive through your cancellation policy. This applies retroactively to all COVID-19 related cancellations during this period. This cost will be covered entirely by Airbnb. These payments will begin to be issued in April. Guests with reservations booked on or before March 14 will still be able to cancel and receive a standard refund or travel credit equivalent for 100% of what they paid. You can go to airbnb.com/250Msupport for more details.We are creating a $10 million Superhost Relief Fund.
This is designed for Superhosts who rent out their own home and need help paying their rent or mortgage, plus long-tenured Experience hosts trying to make ends meet. Our employees started this fund with $1 million in donations out of their own pockets, and Joe, Nate and I are personally contributing the remaining $9 million. Starting in April, hosts can apply for grants for up to $5,000 that don’t need to be paid back. You can go to airbnb.com/superhostrelief for more details.We are making it easy for your previous guests to send financial support directly to you.
We have heard from countless guests who are incredibly grateful for the flexibility of Airbnb hosts and are interested in supporting you financially. We are creating a way for guests to send a note along with a contribution to any of the hosts who they’ve previously stayed with. We expect this to go live in April. We know that even a little goes a long way during this challenging time.We have worked together to secure support for hosts in the US Government’s recent COVID-19 Stimulus Bill.
This legislation now allows for US hosts to take advantage of many relief measures, including small business grants, small business loans, and unemployment assistance. A huge thank you for the more than 105,000 calls and emails you made to members of Congress.We are also working on other initiatives and we will provide more detail in the coming weeks. These include actively working with experts and epidemiologists on cleanliness standards to keep you and your guests safe, trip insurance for you and your guests, and programs to deliver demand to help rebuild your business.My commitment to you is to rebuild our partnership. When we are working together, we are at our strongest and absolute best. I’ve seen an example of this happen recently in our combined efforts to offer housing for medical responders on the front lines. Together we are helping to house over 100,000 healthcare providers, relief workers, and first responders by providing housing to them for free or with a subsidy. Over 40,000 of you have already raised your hands to help. Visit airbnb.com/covid19relief to join them.Trust is the foundation of a partnership, and it is built over time. We know that we have some work to do in strengthening yours, but it’s our priority and we are committed to it. When travel comes back—and it will—we look forward to welcoming millions of guests together again.

Brian Chesky

3-30

Vacationers and Second Homeowners Urged to Stay In Place

Haywood County is now among the surrounding counties who are cracking down on out-of-towners coming into the area. Short term rentals have been banned in hotels, vacation rentals, B & B’s, and Campgrounds.

Under the Haywood County Stay – at – Home Proclamation, second homeowners hoping to come to the mountains are urged to stay away. Anyone who has been out f the county for more than three (3) days must register with the Haywood County Health Department by calling 828.356.2019 and MUST self quarantine for 14 days. Folks cannot leave their home for any reason, even to get groceries.

Please help spread the word to your neighbors when they arrive here from out of town. This may help keep the virus from spreading here!


State Declaration vs Local Proclamation – Which to follow?

There seems to be some confusion as to which Executive Order, County or State, supersedes with regard to the deadline date for accommodations to not rent for overnight stays.  The County Declaration supersedes the State Declaration relative to the April 16th deadline for overnight stays in short-term accommodations.  Please note that the Commissioners may terminate  the deadline on April 16th as defined in the current declaration or they may choose to extend the deadline based on the status of the COVID-19 situation in Haywood County at that time.

See Section 4 Local Orders from the Executive Order by the Governor.

Section 4. Local Orders
A.  The undersigned recognizes that the impact of COVID-19 has been and will likely continue to be different in different parts of North Carolina.  Urban areas have seen more rapid and significant spread than most rural areas of the state.  As such, the undersigned acknowledges that counties and cities may deem it necessary to adopt ordinances and issue state of emergency declarations which impose restrictions or prohibitions to the extent under North Carolina law, such as on the activity of people and businesses, to a greater degree than in this Executive Order.  To that end, nothing herein is intended to limit or prohibit counties and cities in North Carolina from enacting ordinances and issuing state of emergency declarations which impose greater restrictions or prohibitions to the extent authorized under North Carolina Law.


CARES ACT 

President Trump signed into law the CARES Act, the largest emergency aid package in history. It will provide critical relief that is desperately needed by businesses and workers across the country to help make it through these difficult times.

However, we recognize that not everyone will benefit as quickly or with as much support as is needed at this time. There is much more work to do beyond what is provided in this package.

CARES Act Provisions

As we shared earlier this week, U.S. Travel fought hard to include several major provisions contained in the final package to help travel companies and our workforce in the form of:

  • Loans and loan forgiveness for small travel businesses
  • Federally backed financial assistance for impacted businesses
  • Tax relief to mitigate losses and spur recovery
  • Grants for impacted tourism businesses and airports

Our team has created detailed documents that outline important and relevant pieces of information that will soon be available for our industry within the CARES Act. You can view the details of the bill and your eligibility for aid here, or use our guide to navigate which part of the CARES Act applies to your organization. Our website also contains an overview for small business owners that may be helpful. While it may take several days for the federal government and key agencies to work through the fine details of the package, these documents can serve as a foundation to better understand the types of relief that will be available and help answer several of the questions you may have:

  • Who is eligible to receive assistance?
  • What kind of assistance will be provided?
  • How much can my organization receive?
  • How can my organization access the assistance provided under this program?

Looking Ahead

In the month ahead, we anticipate that lawmakers will develop a fourth relief package. We will make sure our industry’s continued needs are a part of every discussion. If you have any questions, please contact Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy.

This is an extraordinarily difficult time. We are working day and night with Congress, the Small Business Administration and other relevant agencies to get you all the answers you need—and will keep you informed every step of the way.

Sincerely,
Roger J. Dow
President and CEO
U.S. Travel Association


3-28
STATEWIDE “STAY AT HOME” ORDER STARTS MONDAY

Roy Cooper issues Executive Order 121, a statewide Stay at Home Order beginning Monday, March 30 at 5 p.m. until April 29, 2020. The Executive Order directs people to stay at home except to visit essential businesses, to exercise outdoors or to help a family member. Specifically, the order bans gatherings of more than 10 people and directs everyone to physically stay at least six feet apart from others. Read the press release and the FAQs.

  • Governor Roy Cooper and NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen urge North Carolinians to stay at home if they can and maximize social distancing. People who feel sick and have mild symptoms, should stay home and call their doctor. Read more.
  • NC reports first COVID-19 deaths.
  • Executive Order 120 closes K-12 public school statewide through May 15. Read guidance. See all COVID-19 Executive Orders.

For more information please visit: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-response-north-carolina


By order of Haywood County & Town of Maggie Valley

This park remains open for public use while engaging in outdoor activity. Outdoor activities need to adhere Social Distancing Requirements of such as maintaining a six (6) foot separation between individuals. Examples of activities that comply with this requirement are walking, hiking, golfing, running, cycling, fishing or using the greenways/sidewalks.

*All public and private gatherings of more than 10 people are at this park are prohibited*

Any person violating any prohibition or restriction imposed by this proclamation as authorized by the Proclamation of State of Emergency shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor in accordance with G.S. 14-288.20A


Please click on the link below to read Haywood County’s Covid-19 Stay in Place Order

https://maggievalleync.gov/town-news/the-town-of-maggie-valley-joins-haywood-county-and-other-municipalities-in-revised-march-26-declaring-state-of-emergency-in-response-to-covid-19/

This order is effective at 5:00 pm today March 26, 2020

Haywood County COVID-19 Call Center
Open 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. everyday
828.356.2019

Rules for hotels and short-term lodging

a. All lodging facilities, including campgrounds and direct-reservation facilities (such as Airbnb and VRBO) with rentals or leases for less than 15 days in duration shall be closed EXCEPT for work-related accommodations, facilities housing persons experiencing homelessness and any facility being used for isolation and quarantine purposes. Current residents at campgrounds are permitted to stay, but campgrounds should not allow new patrons to enter and establish themselves. Current residents at hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts and other short-term rentals are permitted to stay, but these facilities should cancel any leisure travel reservations for the duration of this declaration. Any employees who work for a business or organization deemed essential can stay in any lodging.

b. Visitors and property owners who are non-residents of Haywood County who are staying overnight as of the date of this action shall notify the Haywood County COVID-19 Hotline at 828-356-2019 to list with the County their most recent place of travel, length of stay and purpose for travel.

For the full proclamation visit: https://www.haywoodcountync.gov/


State Mandates for Wednesday, March 25, 5:00 p.m.

The following business types are mandated to close:

  • Gyms/Fitness Centers
  • Entertainment Venues
  • Bingo Parlors
  • Bowling Alleys
  • Sweepstakes venues
  • Movie Theaters
  • Salons
  • Barber Shops
  • Massage Therapy
  • Spas

Business that continue to stay OPEN: Gas Stations, Pharmacies, Grocery Stores, Banks, Restaurants offering take out.


Maggie Valley Festival Grounds

Several events are scheduled for the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds beginning in late April. Some event promoters have been in countact with the Town of Maggie Valley to either cancel or reschedule their event. The Chamber will be updating our Festival Grounds website as these announcements of changes are given to us. For the latest information please visit www.maggievalleyfestivalgrounds.com.

The SE Mini Truckin’ Nationals have POSTPONED their April event. Jason Bell, event organizer, is working with The Town of Maggie Valley to reschedule this event for later in the season. If you are a Lodging Partner and get calls from these event-goers cancelling their April reservations, PLEASE consider letting folks use their deposits for the later date, when that has been determined. Or offer a full refund. I know finances are strained at this time; but we are in uncertain times and we want our event planners to continue to know that we appreciate them choosing Maggie Valley for their event destination.

Thunder in the Smokies – May event has been cancelled.


Great Smoky Mountains National Park Closes to Support Regional Coronavirus (COVID-19) Prevention Efforts

Park officials announced that all park areas, except the Foothills Parkway and the Spur, will close at noon on Tuesday, March 24 through Monday, April 6, in a continuing effort to support federal, state, and local efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.Blue Ridge Parkway Announces Modifications to Backcountry Camping Permits.


COVID-19 Information About the Blue Ridge Parkway

From time to time, circumstances may necessitate the closing of trails or other actions to ensure visitor and resource safety. As part of your planning, visit this page to get special alerts and information. If you are a frequent visitor, you may want to bookmark this page.

Information on this page was updated on March 24, 2020.  A March 22 Notice Regarding Visiting the Parkway: The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at the Blue Ridge Parkway is our number one priority. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for COVID-19 pandemic includes social distancing, and we need the public’s cooperation to ensure our visitation patterns adhere to CDC recommendations.

If you are coming to the parkway, please choose to visit areas that are not crowded to allow for adequate social distancing. Use this opportunity to explore different areas of the parkway. Visit our trail page to plan hikes to lesser known areas. If you encounter a crowded trailhead or overlook, go elsewhere.

We are closely monitoring COVID-19 with the federal, state, and local authorities. Outdoor spaces remain accessible to the public in accordance with the latest health guidance.

The National Park Service (NPS) encourages people who choose to visit the parkway during this pandemic to adhere to guidance from the CDC and state and local public health authorities to protect visitors and employees. As services are limited, the NPS urges visitors to continue to practice Leave No Trace principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces safe and healthy.

https://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/roadclosures.htm


Blue Ridge Parkway Announces New backcountry camping restrictions are as follows:

  • Groups of campers larger than ten (10) people are prohibited.
    No More than six (6) people are allowed to occupy any one campsite.
    Camping at Johns River Road will be limited to 2 sites (10-person total area capacity)
    Camping at Basin Cove will be limited to 8 sites (10-person total area capacity)
    Camping at CCC Camp will be limited to 8 sites (10-person total area capacity) Camping more than three (3) consecutive nights in any camping area is prohibited.

Permits may be acquired by phone only from district offices closest to backcountry site location. More information related to backcountry camping on the Blue Ridge Parkway is available on the park website.

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at the Blue Ridge Parkway is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor COVID-19. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website and social media channels.

Outdoor spaces at the Blue Ridge Parkway remain accessible to the public in accordance with the latest federal, state, and local health guidance.

The NPS encourages people who choose to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway during this pandemic to adhere to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local public health authorities to protect visitors and employees. As services are limited, the NPS urges visitors to continue to practice Leave No Trace principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces safe and healthy.


The Maggie  Valley Chamber has SBA Loan Applications and additional information about how to secure a loan. Please contact the Chamber if you would like to have this information forwarded to you. 828.926.1686

March 19 – SBA Assistance Resources in light of COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in SBA disaster loans to help our small businesses, small aquacultural businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and/or most private nonprofit organizations.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs)

The SBA has approved the North Carolina Governor’s request for a disaster declaration, and you may begin the application process.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to use the online SBA application.  Alternatively, applicants may complete a hard copy SBA application and mail it to SBA, though that will take longer to process.  There are no disaster loan centers established for this disaster declaration.

Basic info on EIDLs:

  • These are direct loans from the SBA. One does not apply through a bank, nor is a letter of denial from a bank required for one to apply for these loans.
  • SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.
  • These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
  • SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.
  • SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are just one piece of the expanded focus of the federal government’s coordinated response, and the SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible.

Changes To Unemployment During Pandemic

Important changes to unemployment has been implemented to offer relief to workers who have lost their jobs or hours due to COVID-19.

  • Removes the one week waiting period
  • Removes the requirement for the worker to look for a job.
  • Employee can apply remotely
  • Employers will not be held responsible for compensation paid.

More information can be found here: https://des.nc.gov


North Carolina to Close Restaurants and Bars for Dine-In Customers, Allow Takeout and Delivery Operations to Continue

Forthcoming executive order will also expand unemployment insurance benefits for workers affected by COVID-19

Governor Roy Cooper and members of the Coronavirus Task Force are holding a media briefing today at 2 pm. At that briefing, Governor Cooper will announce a new executive order in response to COVID-19 that closes restaurants and bars for dine-in customers but allows them to continue takeout and delivery orders. The executive order will also include an expansion of unemployment insurance to help North Carolina workers affected by COVID-19.
The order is expected to be effective by 5 pm today, Tuesday, March 17, 2020.
More information about the order and other updates on North Carolina’s response to COVID-19 will be available at today’s media briefing. The briefing is at 2 pm at Joint Force Headquarters, 1636 Gold Star Dr, Raleigh, NC 27607. View live stream here: https://www.ncdps.gov/storm-update


Maggie Valley Restaurants and Other Business Update

Will be open for Carry out and (some) Delivery: We encourage our Maggie Valley citizens to patronize our local businesses as often as possible. For more information contact the Chamber at 828.926.1686 or contact the business directly.

Snappy’s Italian Restaurant – 4:00 – 9:00 Tuesday thru Thursday. Open until 10:00 p.m. on Friday  and Saturday.
Also open for lunch Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
828.926.6126

Rendezvous Restaurant – Lunch and Dinner
828.926.0201

Pop’s Place – 7 days carry out and curbside  until 7:00 am –  noon.
828.944.0677

Maggie Valley Sandwich Shop- 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
828.944.0620

Frankie’s Italian Trattoria– Beginning at 4:00 p.m., Closed Sundays
828.926.6216

Teague’s Grocery & Cafe‘ – Breakfast & Lunch
828.926.1147

Brickhouse Burgers and Pizza- Lunch & Dinner
828.944.0909

Salty Dog’s Seafood & Grill – Lunch & Dinner
828.926.9105

Maggie Valley Club – Thursday, Friday and Saturday 1:00 – 8:00 p.m.
828.926.4848

Fat Buddies (Waynesville) – Open regular hours for take out and curbside
828.456.6368

We recommend calling ahead to place your order.

Restaurants CLOSED until further notice: Joey’s Pancake House, Legend’s Sports Grill, Sippers in the Valley, J Arthur’s Restaurant, Guayabitos Mexican Restaurant, Country Vittles.

OTHER BUSINESSES CLOSED until further notice: Maggie Valley Puzzle Rooms, Crafted in Carolina, Poppy’s Little Knife Store, Jonathan Creek Inn & Villas, Hearth & Home Inn Cataloochee Ranch (including horseback riding).

B & C Winery  – has suspended tastings, but will give samples. Discounts available. Curbside purchases are available.

Better Homes & Gardens Realty – Available for appointments


Since there are no events happening around Western North Carolina (or anywhere) for the foreseeable future, A&E Editor Garret K. Woodward had to get creative with his Hot Picks this week.

  • If your favorite restaurant or brewery is doing takeout service, be sure to purchase a gift card (and tip well). Any support for local businesses will ensure survival in the long run.
  • If you have (or know of) an elderly person (family, friend or neighbor), call them and see if they need anything, whether it be getting groceries or simply chatting over the phone about nothing and everything.
  • Take time to go for a hike or anything that involves an immersion in Mother Nature, a slight disconnection and distraction from all of the noise. Clear your head and take a deep breath.
  • Kindness breeds kindness. Don’t forget that. Look around and see how you can help within your community. It all adds up.
  • 5. Above all, remember that we truly are all in this together, and together we will prevail for the betterment of humanity.

SMALL BUSINESS DISASTER RELIEF INFORMATION

https://governor.nc.gov/news/us-small-business-administration-grants-governor-cooper’s-request-disaster-declaration-support

The Maggie Valley Chamber  will continue to research and post findings to assist our business community during these stressful times.


Chamber of Commerce Office is Closed to Walk in Traffic beginning March 16th

During the rapidly evolving situation with the Corona Virus the Maggie Valley Area Chamber of Commerce office located at 2781 Soco Road in Maggie Valley is now closed until further notice. We have placed a brochure rack outside with highly requested brochures for visitors. Also, visitors may call 828.926.1686 or email teresa@maggievalley.org  if they have immediate questions.

Please keep us updated on any changes to your business or events.
If you are considering cancelling your event we encourage you to consider rescheduling it for a later date. If you need help please contact us, we are here to assist you.


The State’s Position on Travel 

North Carolina is urging residents and visitors to be prepared and take precautions relating to the coronavirus (COVID-19). The state recommends that everyone monitor the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ special webpage on the situation. Events in various areas of the state are being cancelled or postponed as a best practice effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Visitors and travelers in and through the state should check with their lodging provider and event organizer before departing on a trip to North Carolina. Visitors to the state should take the same precautions that are recommended for traveling during the flu season. Those precautions are even more valuable this year. Visitors who are at “high risk” of severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid large groups of people as much as possible. If travelers need more information on North Carolina relating to COVID-19, they can go to https://www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.

Residents and visitors can find information on the COVID-19 from the
NC Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

For those that are traveling, please follow these important recommendations:

  • Do not travel if you are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. 
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw it away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
  • If you feel well, it is not necessary to wear a facemask. Facemasks are most effective when used by people who are already ill to prevent them from spreading viruses and other germs. 

US Travel Association-Emergency Preparedness & Response

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