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Avery County Manager Updates Closures Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

By Tim Gardner

Like elsewhere across America and around the world, there have been many closures in Avery County due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Avery County Manager Phillip Barrier, Jr. has provided an updated list of those in and affecting Avery County.

Barrier, Jr. said that the Avery County Government would like to share that Avery County Emergency Management and the Health Department are working with local officials, Cannon Hospital, Avery County School System, 911 Communications, Emergency Management Services (EMS), Ambulance Services and fire and rescue to ensure and protect the health and well-being of Avery County citizens.

“Our County Commissioners, the County Manager’s Office and our government and emergency services in general will “continue offering services to our citizens and businesses as well as our visitors, while protecting the welfare of local employees and volunteers.”

Avery Government officials began meetings began last week and continue on an as needed basis.  Avery Emergency Management will do weekly updates on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning March 17.

Health officials encourage good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene during this medical crisis.  These are the best preventive measures for this virus, and include: covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands frequently with soap and water, staying home when you feel sick or when you have a fever and cleaning surfaces with sanitizing cleaners. 

The update list of Avery closures and those affecting the county and its citizens and guests include: Local and State-Wide impact of businesses and schools due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, include:

• Avery County Schools are closed until at least March 30, by order of Governor Roy Cooper.

• Mayland Community College will be closed for students through March 30, regular schedule for staff.

• Due to a prohibition of large gathering, school closings and to be socially responsible, the Williams YMCA of Avery County (located in Linville) will be closed until Tuesday, March 31. All YMCA programs scheduled during this period will also be suspended.

• All cases on the Criminal Docket for March 18, 2020 in Avery County have been continued to May 27, due to COVID-19. Everyone in or involved with a court case is asked not to show up on March 18. If you have questions call the Clerk’s office at 828-737-6700. 

• The Avery County Habitat ReStore will be closed from March 18 to March 31.

• All Cooperative Extension Meetings have been canceled until late April by order of the Avery County Management.

• Attendants at the Solid Waste Collection Sites will not aid in the removal of household waste items from vehicles until further notice.

• The Avery County Parks & Rec Rock Gym will be closed for the next two weeks for painting and renovation.

• All Avery High School and Middle School (Avery and Cranberry) athletic events are cancelled at this time due to the NCHSAA suspension of events.

• Lees-McRae College all in-person classes, both on the main campus in Banner Elk and those held at Surry Community College, are canceled from Monday, March 16 through Sunday, March 22. Online classes will begin Monday, March 23.

• Grandfather Mountain closed for two weeks, effective Sunday, March 15. The closure means the park will prohibit public access, including from the main entrance gate and hiking trails.

• The North Carolina High School Athletic Association has suspended the spring season until April 6.

• Per Order of Gov. Roy Cooper on March 14, all school systems in the state of NC are closed for at least two weeks (March 16-30) due to the Virus Outbreak.  Included in the order was an Executive Order limiting public gatherings to less than 100 persons. As of Sunday, March 15, the National Center for Disease Control has recommended that number to only 50 persons at any gathering.

• By Order of Gov. Roy Cooper, all restaurants and bars are now closed to dine-in service. Many are operating as drive-thru and carryout only, some may be offering delivery.

• There are still three events that will be held as scheduled. They include:

• The Avery County Senior Center began offering Drive-Thru Meal Service at the Center on Tuesday, March 17; Clients can drive to the side door of the dining area and pick up a hot meal. Clients must be registered to receive meal, and are asked to call and RSVP (not required) to help with headcount.  For more information, call 828-733-8220.

• The Avery County Community Market, formerly the Pop-Up Market, will be held Thursday, March 19, but will be moved from the Rock Gym to the parking lot of the Pool Complex for a drive-thru version of the Market.  All attendees are asked to stay in their car during this distribution.

• Avery County Transportation will run vans at this time, pending decision by upper levels of management.