March 25, 2020
Watauga County Takes Additional Steps to Protect the Public with Limitations to Short-Term Rentals
Boone, NC - Watauga County in conjunction with the Towns of Beech Mountain, Blowing Rock, Boone and Seven Devils, will be ending short-term rentals, effective Thursday, March 26th at 12:00pm. This is a preventive measure to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and lessen its impact on our community. The County is taking precautions to ensure the health and safety of its residents during this rapidly changing situation.
“We appreciate the solidarity between our municipalities and Watauga County to continue working together as we respond to this public health emergency. We carefully made this decision with public health in mind. We urge the public to please help us lessen the impact of COVID-19 here by staying home and practicing social distancing to the greatest extent possible,” said John Welch, Watauga County Commissioner. The County’s State of Emergency will be updated to reflect this change.
Effective Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 12:00 PM, all short-term rentals for property within Watauga County shall be prohibited for the duration of the County’s State of Emergency unless otherwise deemed allowable, at which time an amendment will be issued. Short-term rentals shall include, but not be limited to: air bed and breakfasts, campgrounds, timeshare units, condos, motels, resorts, inns, guest houses, RV Parks, vacation cabins, home rentals, VRBO, hotels, or other rental programs or places where leases for less than thirty (30) days in duration.
The following are exceptions to the short-term rental policy set forth above:
- Persons currently subject to a written rental agreement shall be able to remain for the rental period and shall be able to extend said period with no time limitation provided it is continuous.
- The prohibition against short-term rentals shall not apply when work related accommodations are needed for the following:
- Emergency Personnel including, but not limited toLaw enforcement, EMTs, Fire and Rescue, 911 Communications and Emergency Management.
- Federal, State and Local Government personnel.
- Medical and Public Health personnel.
- Any person, contractor, or service provider deemed necessary by the County Manager to the response and recovery for COVID-19.
- Construction workers.
- Homeless shelters.
- Emergency facilities, as determined by the County Manager.
- Any housing arrangements within facilities owned and operated by Appalachian State University.
These new guidelines will be incorporated as part of the existing Watauga County State of Emergency that is currently in effect through the course of this public health emergency and go into effect Thursday, March 26th at 12:00 PM.
People who are at high risk for COVID-19 should stay home to the greatest extent possible to decrease the chance of infection. “Please, help us protect the most vulnerable. We need you to stay home as much as possible and limit your trips to essential needs like the grocery store, pharmacy, or to pick up your necessities through a local business or to participate in the Watauga County Schools meal program,” said Jennifer Greene, Health Director.
Who is at High Risk for COVID-19?
People at high risk include anyone who:
- ●Is 65 years of age or older
- ●Lives in a nursing home or long-term care facility
- ●Have a high-risk condition that includes:
- Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- Heart disease with complications
- Compromised immune system
- Severe obesity - body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
- Other underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as diabetes, renal failure or liver disease
AppHealthCare is available and on-call 24/7 to respond to public health emergencies. To reach us, call (828) 264-4995 anytime and follow the prompts. For more information, visit www.AppHealthCare.com or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
For more information on COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), please visit the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website at cdc.gov/coronavirus. North Carolina resources can be found on the Division of Public Health website at ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.
A COVID-19 toll free helpline has been set up to answer general, non-emergent questions at 1-866-462-3821. To submit questions online, go to www.ncpoisoncontrol.org and select “chat.”
LETTER TO THE TOWN REGARDING CORONAVIRUS
DATE: March 21, 2020
FROM: Shane Fox, Town Manager, Blowing Rock, NC
RE: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update and Local Efforts
To our beloved Blowing Rock residents, businesses, and stakeholders,
I am writing to you today to provide an update regarding COVID-19, as well as to highlight the plans in place in our community to address any local implications of this virus.
Watauga County, App HealthCare, the Town of Blowing Rock, and neighboring jurisdictions, have been preparing for emerging infectious diseases for many years. While COVID-19 is a new virus, the coordination, communication efforts, and infrastructure around our public health preparedness is firmly in place.
To date, there have been two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county. App HealthCare is receiving regular updates from NC Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on this rapidly evolving situation. The department is in regular contact with key town officials and Appalachian Regional HealthCare to discuss status reports, directives, and messaging for the community. In addition, your Town Manager is participating in daily conference calls hosted by App HealthCare, which offer updates and guidance for County school officials, municipalities, and other stakeholders in the community.
Following direction from Governor Roy Cooper and State officials, the Town of Blowing Rock will be making several changes to Town programs, activities, and access to municipal buildings in an effort to keep residents and Town employees healthy and safe.
Blowing Rock Police Officers and the Blowing Rock Fire and Rescue Department will continue to respond to emergency calls for service. If you have an emergency, dial 911 and officers will respond as always. For non-emergency Police calls please dial 828-295-5210.
Blowing Rock Town Hall: Beginning on Monday, March 16, there will be no public access to Town Hall until further notice. All Town Hall staff will continue to work and will be available to respond to any questions and provide services by email and phone by calling 828-295-5200. We have our administrative staff answering calls and offering assistance during normal business hours.
A locked drop-box is also located in front of Town Hall where payments and other Town Hall correspondence may be dropped off. This box is checked regularly each business day.
Planning and Zoning will continue to work and provide service via phone calls, emails, and appointments as needed. Please call 828-295-5200.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, commercial trash pick-up will be on Wednesday only. Residential trash pick-up is on schedule as normal.
Blowing Rock Water Treatment Plant and the Blowing Rock Waste-Water Treatment Plant will continue operations as normal. All Staff are present as normal. Streets Department is working on rotating schedules and are present for issues and repairs that arise.
Effective on Saturday, March 14, the Blowing Rock Parks and Recreation Department will postpone all programs, classes, rentals and events until further notice.
Local Restaurant and Business Support: Dine-in service at all restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops is suspended; however, many restaurants are offering take-out or delivery options. Town Partners at the Chamber and TDA have developed resources to help support these restaurants through their websites.
The community is also encouraged to Shop Local. Many stores are offering pick-up and delivery options and more plans will be shared in the coming days. Resources to support local businesses are also available on the town websites.
Our Town Churches are here for support and assistance:
Rumple Memorial Presbyterian -Kathy Beach
St. Mary’s of the Hills Episcopal - Andrew Hege
Blowing Rock Methodist - Michael Brown
First Baptist of Blowing Rock-Rusty Guenther
Governor Roy Cooper and state officials issued new orders for all communities in North Carolina that include:
• Restricting all gatherings to 25 people or fewer (this includes civic, public, leisure, faith-based events, sporting events with spectators, concerts, and venues like fitness centers, private clubs, and theatres)
• Temporarily eliminating all on-premises dining at bars, restaurants, cafes and other eating establishments and allowing take-out options ONLY (grocery stores are exempt from this order to allow people to purchase food and supplies)
As of March 19, an Order of Abatement of Imminent Hazard issued by the Secretary of the NC Department of Health and Human Services, states that “seating areas of restaurants and bars constitute an imminent hazard for the spread of COVID-19.” Restaurants shall close all seating areas immediately and bars are directed to close immediately. Restaurants are restricted to carry-out, drive-through, and delivery to ensure food is available while maintaining social distancing. Restaurant staff are not permitted to serve patrons indoors or in the outdoor seating area, and all areas of North Carolina are subject to mass gathering restrictions and social distancing guidelines. If a restaurant has outdoor seating, onsite consumption in the outdoor seating area is not permitted pursuant to the Order of Abatement.
• Closing all public and private schools
Guidance on Social Distancing:
Public Health officials agree that social distancing – keeping people as physically separate as possible – can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and “flatten the curve” to limit the numbers of cases of infection on any given day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has detailed resources for our community.
- Refrain from interacting with vulnerable groups or individuals – grandparents, chronically ill; immune compromised.
- In public, avoid touching things that have been touched by many others – doors knobs, push buttons, credit card machine buttons, etc. If you must use a high touch object, wash hands immediately.
- Don’t go to necessary places like grocery stores during high peak hours; remain at least 6 feet away from others when shopping or in lines; use delivery services if possible.
- Opt for activities that allow you and family members to keep distances from others. For parents, this means not allowing playdates; not allowing students who are out of school to congregate together in large groups, both inside homes and outside.
- Stay at home as much as possible. Businesses and employers are encouraging people to work from home. Look for ways to stay in contact with others by phone, social media, online meeting platforms and other remote technology.
Please continue to be vigilant in following the restrictions in place; remind children, teens and young adults to adhere to these restrictions; and check on neighbors and those who may be frail, vulnerable, lonely or feel isolated.
Visit the App HealthCare website for Mental Health resources and regular updates.
Help and information regarding Coronavirus is also available by calling North Carolina 2-1-1.
The Town of Blowing Rock is focused on the health, safety, and welfare of our citizens, staff, and families. Town staff and officials appreciate the many individual, grassroots, and outreach efforts offered to residents as we all work together to protect our community. Thank you for your understanding as we work through these difficult times.
Update for Monday, March 16th
NEWS TO: All Local News Media – Town of Blowing Rock Website
CONTACT: Shane Fox, Town Manager (828)295-5200
March 16, 2020 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Town of Blowing Rock and the rest of the Country is in unchartered territory. We are all working together to slow the spread of this virus and protect the more vulnerable among us.
Due to the health concerns associated with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and efforts to limit the possible transmission, the Town of Blowing Rock has made the decision to prohibit public access to all Town owned public buildings until at least Monday March 23, 2020. This date may be extended. This decision has been made and authorized under the State of Emergency issued March 14, 2020.
Public building closures include Town Hall, all Park and Recreation public buildings, and the Public Works facility.
Memorial Park bathrooms along with the outdoor bathrooms at BRAHM will remained closed during this time. The Town’s outdoor open facilities will remain open, including all town owned parks and greenspaces.
The Town of Blowing Rock will continue to provide all protection services, including Fire and Police, as normal.
Sanitation pickup will be on a limited schedule. Residential trash pickup will remain the same on Monday and Tuesday pickup. Commercial trash pickup will be on Wednesday only. Brush pickup will be suspended until further notice.
For Health Questions - AppHealthCare is available and on-call 24/7 to respond to public health emergencies. To reach us, call (828) 264-4995 anytime and follow the prompts. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 in our community and will work to keep the public informed. Please visit our website for more information - www.AppHealthCare.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Please call 828-295-5200 with any Town related issues. Please understand that during these unprecedented times, we are first and foremost focused on Public Safety and the well-being of our Citizens, Guests, and Employees.
Thank you for your understanding as we navigate through these difficult times.
Sunday, March 15th Update
Watauga County Resident Tests Presumptive Positive for COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Boone, NC - A Watauga County resident has tested presumptive positive for COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). This is the first presumptive positive case in Watauga County.
The resident is in isolation at home and did have travel history.
“We have been preparing should we see a positive case of COVID-19 in our community. Now that we have a positive case, we will continue to work diligently to protect the public’s health. It is our top priority, and we will work to keep the community informed,” stated Jennifer Greene, Health Director, AppHealthCare.
AppHealthCare is working closely with local partners and agencies to ensure the public’s health is protected and precautions are being taken to protect all residents of Watauga County.
“We are confident in public health’s ability to lead this effort and appreciate their partnership with Watauga County and other local agencies to protect our community’s health,” stated Deron Geouque, Watauga County Manager.
We understand that people are going to have questions and we encourage the public to call us or their local provider if they are ill and believe they may need care.
We want to remind the public to share credible, reliable information and practice prevention measures like handwashing, covering your cough and sneeze, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces.
How to Protect Yourself
● Frequent hand washing
● Staying home when you’re sick
● Keeping distance from others who are sick
● Avoiding touching your face
● Cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces in common areas like doorknobs, remotes, light switches, tables and handles
“We want to continue to encourage the community to not use the hospital emergency room unless it is a true emergency. We need to preserve our local hospital capacity to respond throughout this event to meet the various healthcare needs that require urgent action in our community,” said Greene.
Please be aware that you may hear about people who have been instructed by their healthcare provider to self-isolate since they have been tested for COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). This does not mean that they have tested positive, it means that they are being guided to stay home until a test result is provided. This is a standard procedure for managing public health outbreaks.
COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) Signs & Symptoms
● Shortness of breath
If you develop a fever, symptoms of respiratory illness or think you may have COVID-19, please call your healthcare provider. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your symptoms so they can be prepared. Calls can be made to AppHealthCare or can be directed to Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. To find more information, go to www.AppHealthCare.com or www.apprhs.org.
Those at higher risk for severe illness include:
● Adults over the age of 65
● Underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease or diabetes
● Weakened immune systems
On March 12 and 14th, Governor Roy Cooper and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services issued new recommendations for all people in North Carolina to prevent and reduce the spread of infection. The recommendations are effective for the next 30 days and then will be re-assessed (link to recommendations here).
AppHealthCare is available and on-call 24/7 to respond to public health emergencies. To reach us, call (828) 264-4995 anytime and follow the prompts. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 in our community and will work to keep the public informed. Please visit our website for more information - www.AppHealthCare.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
As a reminder, general questions from community members and agencies inquiring about COVID-19 can call our office number (828) 264-4995 and dial x2222. Healthcare providers and ill persons can call our office number and dial zero.
We will maintain a positive case count on our website at www.AppHealthCare.com.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website at cdc.gov/coronavirus.
North Carolina resources can be found on the Division of Public Health website at ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus. To view the case count for North Carolina, including a county map, please visit the NC DHHS website here.
A COVID-19 toll free helpline has been set up to answer general, non-emergent questions at 1-866-462-3821. To submit questions online, go to www.ncpoisoncontrol.org and select “chat.”
NEWS TO: ALL LOCAL NEWS MEDIA – TOWN OF BLOWING ROCK WEBSITE
CONTACT: SHANE FOX, TOWN MANAGER (828) 295-5200
March 12, 2020 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
- Town of Blowing Rock Kinder Basketball Season
- Town of Blowing Rock Trout Derby scheduled for April 4, 2020
Town of Blowing Rock Easter Activities scheduled for April 4, 2020
- Town of Blowing Rock Planning Board scheduled for March 19, 2020
Due to the health concerns associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and efforts to limit the possible transmission, the Town of Blowing Rock has made the decision to cancel all Town sponsored events and Town meetings until April 13. 2020. On or before April 13. 2020 the Town will reassess this measure and provide an update concerning ongoing cancellations or rescheduling of meetings going forward.