Below is a collection of notifications from a variety of sources regarding COVID-19, or coronavirus. Any information received after 5 p.m. Tuesday will be posted on our Facebook page. If you know of any cancellations or other responses to the coronavirus, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Drive-in testing offered
Mountain Park Urgent Care & Walk In Clinic, 90 E. Main St. Suite 2 across from Dunkin Donuts, is providing “Drive Up” COVID-19 testing. Anyone who feels they need to be tested should call 631-3181 for a virtual assessment. They will then be able provide further direction as to what potential patients need to do. Find them at www.facebook.com/mountainparkurgentcare.
Bars and dine-in restaurants closed
Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order Tuesday closing dining areas and bars at 5 p.m. Takeout and delivery orders can continue. Part of the order would include an expansion of unemployment benefits to assist unemployed workers.
Jackson County tourism officials have set up a website listing local restaurants offering carryout and/or delivery. Visit www.lovejacksonnc.com to see the list or to add your business, contact information and services provided.
Jackson County Public Schools
Statement from Superintendent Kim Elliott:
By agreement with the North Carolina governor, state superintendent, myself, the Board of Education and the local health director, JCPS is closed for students March 16-30. The announcement by the governor allows us to access state and federal funds. This closure was a coordinated effort. The timing was determined at the state level.
Employees who did not travel over spring break may report to work. We will be conducting temperature checks for employees. Any employee who traveled over break is to self-isolate for 10 school days. Our employees have been provided directions about how to access this special leave.
More information about instruction at home will follow.
Schools serving meals
Jackson County Public Schools began providing breakfast and lunch for anyone age 1-18 on Tuesday.
Starting today (Thursday), school buses will bring meals to sites established by the school system. Each person under age 18 will be given a boxed lunch for the current day and breakfast for the following day.
Today, buses will run regular bus routes to homes as well as deliver food to designated locations. They will post the most current updates regarding food delivery on the JCPS Facebook page.
The schools served drive-thru meals Tuesday and Wednesday, but that service is no longer available.
Students or their parents should complete the online form before 5 p.m. at www.jcpsnc.org/food the day before they want food delivery to start.
Community volunteers are needed. Anyone interested can sign up at www.jcpsnc.org/food.
“We will plug in any volunteer where they are needed,” Director of School Nutrition Laura Cabe said. “We’re going to need people to deliver meals and possibly even prepare them depending on our own staff and who is able to work. We’re always requesting volunteers.”
The Jackson County Democratic Party canceled all meetings for the rest of March. They will use the Zoom platform to allow access via computer for the monthly party meeting. The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 24 (a week later than the original date) at the usual time, 6:30–8 p.m.
A day or two ahead of the meeting, attendees will receive an email with instructions on how to join the meeting. There will be a link to click in the body of the email, and organizers hope to provide a phone number so attendees can call in.
They hope to have more information on the county convention by next week’s meeting. See www.jacksondems.com for more.
The Jackson County Republican Party has canceled its annual convention scheduled for Friday. Find out more by emailing email@example.com or by calling 293-6022.
City Lights Café is offering online ordering with no-waiting pick up, and online catering with delivery, and have plans to expand online take-out to weekends as well. Special discounts will be offered to those who order online. Customers can also purchase gift cards for gifts or later use with no expiration date.
All Ingles locations will close at 10 p.m. The 24-hour locations will reopen at 6 a.m. and all other stores will open at their regular time. These hours will remain in place until further notice. Ingles associates will use this time for additional cleaning, sanitation and restocking.
The Jackson County Branch of the NAACP meeting set for 10 a.m. Saturday will be held online. The program topic is “Organizing in the Time of Corona.” Email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive instructions to join online. The public is welcome to join this meeting.
Harris Regional Hospital will be limiting entry points to its facility and screening everyone – employees, patients and any permissible visitors – who enters the building. The following provides additional detail about both safety measures:
• Limited Entry Points: Until otherwise notified, everyone entering the facility should come through the main lobby or the west entrance. The emergency department entrance will be open for emergency room patients only.
• Screening Process: All patients, visitors and staff entering the facility will be screened with questions regarding respiratory symptoms and travel history, per CDC recommendations. Patients with symptoms will immediately be provided masks may also be asked to take their temperature, speak further with someone, or come back at a later date. Screening will occur upon every entry.
• Permissible Visitors: The hospital will be enforcing a zero visitor policy. Understanding that some scenarios may require a visitor for emotional wellbeing or as support, permissible visitors include:
Inpatient: A visitor may be allowed to visit loved ones who are gravely ill. A visitor may be allowed when their presence is essential to the patient’s emotional well-being.
Labor and Delivery: No visitors and no siblings. One support person.
AARP tax help
All AARP Tax-Aide sites in Western North Carolina, as well as across the state and nation, are suspending their operations until further notice. Taxpayers with appointments will be contacted to cancel their appointments.
AARP will continue to assess whether they can open again in some or all sites for the remainder of the tax season and if the tax season is extended.
Vaya crisis line
Vaya Health’s 24/7 Access to Care Line remains available to Western North Carolina residents experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis.
Anyone in crisis can call 800-849-6127, toll-free, day or night, for help from trained behavioral health professionals. Call center staff are also available to provide information about local mental health, substance use and intellectual/developmental disability (IDD) services, as well as answer member questions.
For more information, visit www.vayahealth.com/coronavirus-updates. The page is frequently updated and includes prevention tips, guidance from public health agencies and information for Vaya members, providers and the general public.
Duke Energy will not disconnect any customers’ service for non-payment, in order to give customers experiencing financial hardship extra time to make payments. Duke will continue to read meters and send bills. Customers should pay what they can to avoid building up a large balance that will be harder to pay off later, officials said.
Duke Energy technicians will continue to respond to power outages and other emergencies.
Company technicians will continue to complete service orders such as new electric connections. Duke is available at 1-800-777-9898.
Sylva’s Municipal Hall will be open regular hours and will help customers. They encourage everyone to use the drop-box on the side of the building for reservations, payments, document drop-off, etc. They remain available by phone at 586-2719 for any questions. The Planning Board meeting scheduled for today (Thursday) has been canceled.
The Catholic faithful of the Diocese of Charlotte, which includes Western North Carolina, are excused from attending holy mass until further notice, Bishop Peter Jugis announced. In addition, non-essential activities involving more than 100 people at all parishes and schools in the diocese have been postponed or canceled.
Western Carolina University
A message from Western Carolina University Chancellor Kelli Brown:
Until further notice, students who live on campus must either remain at their permanent homes or return to those homes unless an exception is granted by the university. An email will be sent to all residential students with details on the exceptions process and instructions for students who need to return to campus to pick up belongings.
Faculty members will move from in-person classes to delivery of their course materials online or via other distance methods beginning Monday, March 23. Provost Richard Starnes has directed faculty to communicate with students no later than today (Thursday) with instructions on course delivery.
Through April 30, any gathering or meeting of more than 50 people must be canceled. Any meeting of more than 10 people requires supervisor approval. A decision regarding commencement ceremonies will be forthcoming.
Through March 31, all faculty and staff, including temporary and student workers (work study and non-work study), will be subject to the following special emergency provisions. These measures can be modified or discontinued at any time by UNC System President Bill Roper:
• All units must designate those mandatory employees whose physical presence on campus is critical to the operational needs of the university during this situation (these may differ from personnel designated mandatory for other emergency scenarios; consult your supervisor regarding your specific mandatory designation).
• Non-mandatory employees must move to teleworking, wherever feasible and with approval of their supervisor, based on the nature of their respective position duties. Those employees whose position duties cannot be performed remotely should not report to their physical on-campus work space and will be allowed paid administrative leave.
• Those employees unable to work because of an interruption in childcare or eldercare needs related to the coronavirus situation will be allowed paid administrative leave.
• Any employee who exhibits respiratory virus symptoms, including cold, flu or COVID-19, should not report to work and will be allowed paid administrative leave.
Detailed information about these work and leave provisions can be found on the employee resource page.
All the WCU chancellor installation events, including Paint the Town Purple, have been postponed until autumn.
Bardo Arts Center and the entire Belcher College of Fine and Performing Arts will be canceling all face-to-face events for the remainder of the semester. This includes all ticketed and non-ticketed performances in the Bardo Arts Center Performance Hall and in the Coulter Recital Hall. The WCU Fine Art Museum is closed until further notice. This includes day-to-day operations, exhibition programming and receptions.
WCU will be contacting all ticket holders individually by phone and/or email to discuss refund options.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will maintain operations for now.
Cherokee Central Schools announced that it would be closing and the Cherokee Boys Club announced that Agelink Childcare and Snowbird Childcare would both be closing through March 30.
The New Kituwah Academy Elementary School and New Kituwah Daycare, Dora Reed Childcare Center, and the Big Cove Daycare Center will be closed through March 30. The Cherokee Life Center and all community gyms will also be closed during that period. Tsali Manor is closed to the public, but meals will continue in several ways, including drive-through meals and meals being delivered to those who cannot make it there. Due to the size of the base of students who attend, the Cherokee Youth Center will be closed, but the Snowbird Youth Center will remain open.
Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos will be closed for a two-week period that began Wednesday.
During the closure, Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos will be paying two weeks of pay to all team members and benefits will not be interrupted.
Harrah’s said in a release that their officials are closely monitoring this evolving situation and will work with local officials to establish a reopening date as soon as it is appropriate to do so.
Harrah’s has implemented enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols throughout the facilities, based on recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control.
The Main Street Sylva Association Promotions Committee regular monthly meeting scheduled for today (Thursday) has been canceled.
All Fontana Regional Library locations in Jackson, Macon and Swain counties will be closed to the public through March 31, although phone calls will be answered.
Overdue fines for materials due during this time will be waived. Additionally, eBooks and eAudiobooks remain available, and streaming video via Kanopy and NCLive is also available at www.fontanalib.org. Wi-Fi also extends around the perimeter of library buildings and can generally be picked up from sections of the parking lots.
To further serve the public during the time they are closed, they plan to offer curbside pickup of materials that have been placed on hold. For more information and details, call the Jackson County Public Library at 586-2016.
Follow the Library on Facebook and check the website (www.fontanalib.org) for the latest updates.
The N.C. Wildlife Commission is implementing measures to promote social distancing in an effort to protect both staff and constituents.
As part of this effort, constituents are encouraged to utilize the agency’s online services at www.ncwildlife.org, including:
• Purchasing hunting and fishing licenses.
• Renewing vessel registrations.
• Finding information about co-existing with wildlife.
All programming and events through the Jackson County Arts Council are canceled until at least April 1.
Chamber of Commerce
The Jackson County visitor centers in Dillsboro and Sylva will be closed to the public for the next 10 days.
Staff members will be checking e-mails, processing membership payments, updating websites and social media pages, and continuing to work as normally as possible for Chamber members. They will be keeping their kiosks filled with community information to assist visitors to the area while they wait for a safe time to reopen the visitor centers.
The Jackson County Clerk of Court Office is suspending the processing of passport applications until further notice.
The WCU Valley of the Lillies Half Marathon and 5K has been postponed until Aug. 29. Emailed instructions will be sent to those already registered.
Mainspring offices closed
Mainspring Conservation Trust is closing its offices to the public in Sylva, Franklin and Murphy until March 30. The staff has the capabilities to work remotely, and their website has contact information for staff members.
Virtual board meeting
The Tuesday Jackson County Board of Education meeting will be virtual only. Those wishing to attend can log in to https://meet.google.com/_meet/zgc-bcaq-qdt?hs=122 at 6 p.m.
Funerals on hold
Appalachian Funeral Services has discontinued all funerals and visitations until at least April 1. They will continue to offer private family graveside services and help families plan for visitations and future funerals. They prefer calls to 586-2444 for additional information. The office hours are 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
River cleanup postponed
The Tuck River Clean Up will be postponed indefinitely from its original date of April 18. Organizers hope to reschedule the event later in 2020, and will be in touch in the weeks and months to come. Anyone with questions is requested to contact Kay Tufts by emailing email@example.com or by phone at 227-8804.
Bank closing lobby
Jackson Savings Bank closed its lobby doors until further notice. Drive-thru window service will still be available, as will phone, internet and night drop service. The bank will be open regular hours, 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Friday.