• Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center to Close on Tuesday at 2 p.m.

    March 17, 2020 Appalachian Regional Healthcare System is making the difficult decision to close the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center effective March 17, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. The decision was made given the extraordinary events of the past few days, including the president’s recent recommendation that all gatherings should be limited to no more than ten people. The Wellness Center will remain closed for at least two weeks, at which time we will reevaluate the situation. Member billing will be adjusted for this period of closure, and any applicable late fees will be waived for the month of March. We understand that the Wellness Center is an integral part of many people’s daily lives and routines. During this unprecedented time, we feel that this closure is a necessary step in ARHS’s efforts to flatten the curve and reduce the impact of the COVID-19 virus. / Read more…



  • ARHS Provides Updated Details on Visitor Restrictions at Hospitals and Outpatient Clinics


    March 17, 2020 ARHS is partnering with local law enforcement agencies to implement visitor restrictions at Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital. Visitors and patients may only enter the hospitals at the main entrance. Patients must designate ONE visitor during their hospital stay. Designated visitors may check-in and receive a visitor badge. Visiting hours are 7:00 am – 7:00 pm. ARHS has also implemented visitor restrictions in all medical offices and outpatient clinics. ARHS asks that only individuals who are essential to the patient’s care accompany them on office visits. / Read more…



  • American Red Cross Faces Severe Blood Shortage as Coronavirus Outbreak Threatens Availability of Nation’s Supply


    March 17, 2020 The American Red Cross now faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Healthy individuals are needed now to donate to help patients counting on lifesaving blood. Individuals can schedule an appointment to give blood with the Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. As the coronavirus pandemic has grown here in the U.S., blood drive cancellations have grown at an alarming rate. To date, nearly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to concerns about congregating at workplaces, college campuses and schools amidst the coronavirus outbreak. These cancellations have resulted in some 86,000 fewer blood donations. More than 80% of the blood the Red Cross collects comes from drives held at locations of this type.  / Read more…



  • North Carolina to Close Restaurants and Bars for Dine-In Customers Beginning at 5 P.M. Tuesday


    March 17, 2020 The office of Governor Roy Cooper has announced that as of 5 p.m. today, all restaurants and bars will close for dine-in customers. Takeout and delivery orders will be allowed to continue. Governor Cooper and members of the Coronavirus Task Force will be making the announcement at 2 p.m. with an executive order. The executive order will also include an expansion of unemployment benefits to help North Carolina workers affected by COVID-19.   / Read more…



  • Appalachian Regional Library Limiting Operating Hours Due to COVID-19


    March 17, 2020 Appalachian Regional Library, with public libraries in Ashe, Watauga, and Wilkes Counties, has reduced its hours open to the public due to the COVID 19 situation. From March 17 until at least March 30, the main libraries in Ashe, Watauga, and Wilkes counties will be open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The Western Watauga Branch Library in Sugar Grove will be open Monday and Wednesday from 10 am – 4 pm and Tuesday and Thursday from 10 am – 6 pm. All programs and meetings at all library locations have been canceled for the same time period. The due dates of materials currently checked out have been extended until April 15. During this period of time we will not be taking book donations. / Read more…



  • March 16th Post From NC Senator Jeff Jackson from District 37 – Mecklenburg, Update on COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus

    March 17, 2020 As of March 16, 38 known cases in NC (and 33 cases in SC). It’s hard to get a state lab test because they are being strictly rationed but the immediate goal is to have enough testing capacity to make sure that everyone who has a fever + negative flu test + cough can get tested. / Read more…



  • Town of Boone Also Limits and Prohibits Public Access to All Town-Owned Public Buildings

    March 17, 2020 The Town of Boone, other neighboring jurisdictions and Watauga County are all working together to slow the spread of this virus and protect the public. Due to health concerns associated with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and efforts to limit the possible transmission, the Town of Boone has made the decision to prohibit public access to all Town-owned public buildings. This decision was made and authorized under the State of Emergency issued March 14, 2020. These include: The Jones House Community Center will be closed until further notice. Daniel Boone Park & Amphitheatre will be closed for events until further notice. Town Hall and other offices will be closed to the general public. / Read more…



  • How Small Businesses in Boone are being Impacted by the COVID-19 Coronavirus

    March 16, 2020 As America braces for the unknown with the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus from coast to coast, it comes as no surprise that everyone is worried about their health and the health of their loved ones. What might go unnoticed are the hours upon hours put in by local, small business owners and employees that are trying their best to keep up and keep the doors open during a scary time. “We are here, open regular hours and will try and keep our staff their regular hours and keep them employed,” said Jeff Collins, owner and operator of Peabody’s Wine & Beer. With students on an extended spring break at Appalachian State, classes shifting to online-only for the remainder of the spring semester and tourism taking a hit across the country with the threat of the coronavirus now is the time when your favorite local businesses need your help the most. “It’s important for all businesses. Support them as much as you possibly can,” said Jeff. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Town of Blowing Rock to Prohibit Public Access to All Town Owned Buildings Until March 23

    March 16, 2020 Due to health concerns associated with 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 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. These closures include: Town Hall, all Parks and Recreation public buildings and the outdoor public bathrooms at BRAHM and in Memorial Park. / Read more…



  • Currently, The Watauga Register of Deeds Office is Operating Normally with Suggestions in Place

    March 16, 2020 On March 14, 2020, local governments in Watauga County declared a State of Emergency in response to the current COVID-19 Coronavirus situation. Following the guidance and recommendations provided by AppHealthCare and the State of North Carolina, as of March 16, 2020, county departments will remain on normal operating hours. Amy Shook, Watauga County Register of Deeds has announced that as of right now the Register of Deeds office is operating normally. There are some things the public can do to help keep that possible. For the safety and convenience of all, it is recommended and encouraged that people needing our services use our existing on-line services as outlined below and limiting in-person visits to our office: / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Establishes Community Feeding Sites Across the County

    March 16, 2020 While state officials have mandated that schools close for students until March 30, Watauga County Schools Child Nutrition Staff are planning ways to continue providing meals to those in need. Beginning Tuesday, March 17, Watauga County Schools will operate five feeding sites across the county. Parents from any school may pick up takeout meals at any of the designated sites in a drive-through line. Lunch and a packed breakfast for the next day will be served at Bethel, Mabel and Green Valley schools from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each of the days that schools are closed for students. Dinner and breakfast for the next day will be served at Hardin Park School and Brushy Fork Baptist Church, located at 3915 Highway 421 North in Vilas, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. each of the days school is closed for students. / Read more…



  • Hospitality House Keeping Community Kitchen and Food Pantry Open

    March 16, 2020 The following news release was sent by the Hospitality House to let concerned citizens know that they are still doing what they can to provide food for those in need during this time of uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus. “Hospitality House of Northwest North Carolina remains evermore committed to the health, safety and welfare of the High Country’s most vulnerable population. With regards to COVID-19, we have been engaged with AppHealthCare for well over a week and are currently in touch multiple times each day. We are following the county-wide protocol put in place by AppHealthCare and are following their lead and directives as they come. Our Community Kitchen and Food Pantry remain open seven days a week for anyone in our surrounding area who needs meals and/or food, including families, children and college students impacted by school closures. / Read more…



  • Appalachian State Residence Halls to Remain Open During Extended Spring Break

    March 16, 2020 Rumors began circulating through Boone that Appalachian State University would soon be closing its on-campus student housing in an abundance of caution to prevent the COVID-19 coronavirus reaching campus. According to Megan Hayes, Appalachian State’s Associate Vice-Chancellor and Chief Communications Officer, that is not the case. “The university is open, and residence halls are not closed. We are actively promoting social distancing, and have encouraged students to study and take classes from home,” Hayes said. “While operations are reduced over Spring Break, residence halls aren’t closed now.” The extended Spring Break period will continue through March 23. On that date, App State will transition from in-person instruction to alternative course delivery methods. According to the university, students will be provided with further instructions by March 18 for how their classes will proceed. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • No Additional Updates on COVID-19 Presumptive Positive Case of Samaritan’s Purse Employee

    March 16, 2020 After yesterday’s news release from Samaritan’s Purse confirming the presumptive positive test for the COVID-19 coronavirus for one of its employees, a follow-up message from Samaritan’s Purse offered no new information. “At this time, the press release is the only information that I have to share. Further questions should be directed to the Watauga Health Department,” said Kaitlyn Lahm, the assistant director of marketing and communications at Samaritan’s Purse. An email was sent to AppHealthCare on Monday afternoon seeking an update on the patient’s status. More details will be added to this story should the High Country Press hear back from the health department.  / Read more…



  • Updated Closures and Cancelations from COVID-19 Coronavirus Precautions

    March 16, 2020 The High Country Press is compiling a list of businesses, schools, churches and organizations that have chosen to close their doors to take precautions against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. We will update this list as new information becomes available. AppalCART will be maintaining essential services only to support Appalachian State, the Town of Boone and Watauga County effective March 16. Only the Green, Red, Orange, Pop 105 and Purple routes will be running while App State classes are meeting online. These routes will follow the Break Schedule unless there is demand to increase capacity.  Boone Drug will begin offering curbside pick up at locations that do not have drive-thru windows and will offer free delivery throughout Watauga County until April 15.  / Read more…



  • Avery County Manager Offers Statement and Closures/Business Revisions Due to Coronavirus

    March 16, 2020 Avery County Manager Phillip Barrier, Jr. said the County Manager’s Office intends to “continue offering services to our citizens and businesses as well as our visitors, while protecting the welfare of local employees and volunteers.” Barrier, Jr. added that 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, EMS Ambulance Services, and fire and rescue to ensure and protect the health and well-being of Avery County citizens. Meetings began last week and continue on an as needed basis.  Emergency Management will do weekly updates on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning March 17. By Tim Gardner / Read more…



  • Copy of the Emergency Declaration Document Entered Into by the Mayor of Boone on Saturday

    March 16, 2020 Please find attached a copy of the emergency declaration document entered into by the Mayor of Boone over the weekend.. / Read more…



  • March 15th Post From NC Senator Jeff Jackson from District 37 – Mecklenburg, Update on COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus

    March 16, 2020 As of March 15 at 11:00 a.m., North Carolina has 32 *known* cases of coronavirus. 14 in Wake, four in Mecklenburg, two in Forsyth, two in Harnett, two in Johnston, and one everywhere else highlighted on the following map. That means we went from seven known cases to 32 in five days. It’s safe to say we have more than 32 *actual* cases AND that no one has any idea how many we really have. The state lab has tested 259 people. / Read more…



  • Local Governments in Watauga County Declare a State of Emergency

    March 16, 2020 In recognition of the first announced presumptive positive case of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), Watauga County, and the Towns of Beech Mountain, Blowing Rock, Boone, and Seven Devils have declared a State of Emergency. This State of Emergency applies to all areas within the jurisdiction of Watauga County. / Read more…



  • Watauga Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott Issues Statement to Staff Regarding School Closure

    March 16, 2020 Thank you for your patience as we continue to interpret the Governor’s decree to close schools for students for at least the next two weeks. After consulting with principals, district staff, and leaders at the state level, I am announcing the following to help guide us through the foreseeable future: / Read more…



  • Watauga County Resident Tests Presumptive Positive for COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus


    March 15, 2020 With more and more positive cases of the Covid-19 Coronavirus spreading across the country, local organizations have continued to update their policies to be prepared just in case a positive case of the coronavirus would happen to be found in the High Country. So far, the High Country Press has received three updates from Watauga County Schools, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System and Appalachian State University. Watauga County Schools Evaluating Student Trips and Activities On the recommendation of local health officials, Watauga County Schools is evaluating whether certain school-sponsored student travel and field trips can proceed as coronavirus continues to affect the state and country at large. Student travel and field trips will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the district until further notice. / Read more…



  • Watauga and Statewide Schools to Close for Students Due to Coronavirus for a Least Two Weeks Beginning Monday

    March 14, 2020 By order of North Carolina State Health Officials and Governor Roy Cooper, Watauga County Schools will be closed for at least two weeks beginning Monday, March 14. School Superintendent Scott Elliott will issue further guidance prior to Monday about expectations for staff and access to school facilities for students. An opportunity will be made for students and staff to access the school buildings in order to collect personal items and resources. Additional information will be sent to school staff via email by Sunday evening. Please continue to check the school system’s resource page at Wataugaschools.org/coronavirus for the most up to date information. / Read more…



  • An Interesting Post From NC Senator Jeff Jackson from District 37 – Mecklenburg, About Testing

    March 14, 2020 As of March 14 at 8:00 a.m., the state of North Carolina has a total of 680 public (i.e., non-commercial) coronavirus test kits. So the big question is, “Why don’t we have more tests?” Here’s the situation: First, there’s a difference between “test kits” and “extraction kits.” Extraction kits = extract RNA (genetic material) from nasal swabs. Test kits = test RNA to see if it’s coronavirus. We started with a national shortage of test kits. That happened because the CDC – after rejecting the WHO kits and deciding to make their own – had a manufacturing error that allowed their test kit to produce false positives. So they had to start over several weeks in. / Read more…



  • Chief Justice Beasley Announces Judicial Branch Response to COVID-19 Coronavirus


    March 13, 2020 Chief Justice Cheri Beasley announced several directives today affecting the operation of the North Carolina court system aimed at protecting public safety during the outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus). In an order entered today, the Chief Justice has directed that local courts postpone most cases in district and superior court for at least 30 days. While the work of the courts must continue and courthouses remain open, the first priority of the court system must be the health and safety of the public and of the employees who serve them. “We must be proactive in taking steps to prioritize the health and safety of our fellow North Carolinians while also maintaining the integrity of our judicial system,” said Chief Justice Beasley. “Today’s order will allow us to drastically reduce the exposure caused by crowded sessions of court, which often bring hundreds of people at a time into our courthouses.” Although the superior courts and district courts remain open, effective Monday, March 16, superior court and district court proceedings will be rescheduled for at least 30 days, with some exceptions. These exceptions include (see more in the Supreme Court Order)  / Read more…



  • COVID-19 Coronavirus Forces Cancelation of MerleFest 2020; Refund Information and Ticket Exchanges Are Available


    March 13, 2020 In response to directives from North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and growing concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Wilkes County officials have canceled all mass gatherings of more than 100 people in Wilkes County through the end of April. Therefore, MerleFest 2020 has been canceled. MerleFest organizers issued the following statement: While this decision is disappointing for all of us, we fully support the directive from our county officials. The health, safety, and well-being of all involved with MerleFest are, and always will be our primary concern. As you all know, MerleFest serves as the largest fundraising event in support of the students of Wilkes Community College. The WCC Foundation, which plans and manages the festival each year, has already incurred significant costs in the lead up to MerleFest 2020. / Read more…



  • Watauga County Board of Education Extends Contract for Location of New Valle Crucis School


    March 13, 2020 On Thursday, the Watauga County Board of Education voted to extend the contract of the Hodges Property in Valle Crucis for another 45 days. The property is the current proposed location of where the new Valle Crucis School will be constructed. According to Garrett Price, the director of communications for Watauga County Schools, the extension includes an additional payment of $5,000 that will be applied to the final purchase price for that property. “The extension the board requested stems from a delay in the state permitting process. The state official who specializes in the model and analysis being used at the property has bee out of work due to an illness,” Price said. “The official is back at work this week and is now reviewing the most recent tests. The delay made it unlikely that a permit would have been issued by the March 16 due diligence deadline so the board voted to extend the contract.” By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Visitation Restricted at Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

    March 13, 2020 Appalachian Regional Healthcare System is implementing visitor restrictions at Watauga Medical Center in Boone and Cannon Memorial Hospital in Linville in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Each patient may be accompanied by one visitor inside the hospital, and all others must remain outside the building. The visitor or companion must be 13 years of age or older, and have no symptoms of illness. Appalachian Regional Healthcare System is working diligently with national, state, and local health officials to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and to implement safety measures should the virus appear in the High Country. / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Suspends All Student Trips and After School Activities

    March 13, 2020 In an effort to take further preemptive measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Watauga County Schools has placed a number of restrictions on student and staff travel and activities. Effective March 13 at midnight, the North Carolina High School Athletics Association implemented a suspension of all high school athletic events — including competitions, workouts, practices, conditioning, etc. —  until April 6. Watauga County Schools has elected to extend that suspension to all middle school athletic events and practices during the same period of time. No practices, workouts or related activities will be allowed during this time. Watauga County Schools has also prohibited all out-of-county and out-of-state travel and activities for students until at least April 6. / Read more…



  • Avery County Schools Will Have Full Spring Break; No School Closings Due to Coronavirus

    March 13, 2020 Barring what Superintendent Dan Brigman called “A snow blizzard like happened here in 1993,” Avery County Public Schools will have a full spring break as originally scheduled. Despite missing 14 days due to inclement winter weather during the 2019-2020 school year, students, faculty and staff members will not lose any of their spring break, which will run April 13-17. Avery Schools also will be closed on Good Friday, April 10. Besides the large number of missed days, Avery Schools also have had starting times of classes extended by an hour-to-three hours several other days due to inclement winter weather. The 2019-2020 academic school year is set to end on Friday, May 22. However, the actual date the school year ends still will be determined by the weather. More missed days due to weather could push its closing date up later in May or into June. / Read more…



  • NC Counts Coalition Encourages Everyone Living in North Carolina to Respond to the U.S. Census

    March 13, 2020 NC Counts Coalition and the organization’s 300 plus partners from across the state are reminding North Carolina residents to complete the 2020 Census and make sure friends, family, and neighbors are also counted. Residents can respond to the form by mail, by phone, and for the first time ever, online. Most households will receive their Census invitation in the mail March 12, 2020, and March 20, 2020. “We’ve been preparing and mobilizing for this very moment since 2017,” said Stacey Carless, Executive Director of NC Counts Coalition. “The Census is critical to the economic and general well-being of every single North Carolinian. We only get one shot, and we remain committed to make North Carolina count.” The U.S. Constitution requires a Census count of every individual living in the United States every ten years and documents increases, decreases, and changes in community demographics. / Read more…



  • What the Town of Boone is Doing to Prepare for Potential COVID-19 Coronavirus Cases

    March 12, 2020 The Town of Boone announced this morning that it is canceling several upcoming events and all the upcoming town meetings through April 13. “We had meetings this morning on how we might handle some of the crises that come up. I was impressed with the thought and general direction that we seem to be going as a town and I’m pleased that we are trying to get ahead of this so that we’re not caught off guard,” said Boone Mayor Rennie Brantz. “It’s better to be prepared than not.” The discussion started after Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency earlier in the week and then it was announced that Appalachian State University would be extending its spring break. “I think it is better, given what little we know about this virus and how dangerous it seems to be, that the town has taken initiative to get ahead of this. People are concerned and I think rightfully so. Police, fire and other agencies have been thinking of how to respond,” said Mayor Brantz.By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Town of Blowing Rock to Cancel all Town Sponsored Events & Town Meetings Until April 13

    March 12, 2020 Due to 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, the Town will reassess this measure and provide an update concerning ongoing cancellations or rescheduling of meetings going forward. / Read more…



  • Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival Cancelled; Ticket Refunds Will Be Available

    March 12, 2020 The March 19, 20, and 21 Banff Film Festival screenings have been cancelled. At the present time, efforts are underway to re-schedule the screenings for the fall of 2020. Updates will be provided here as they become available. Please retain your original tickets, in the event that the screenings can be rescheduled, as they will be valid for use at that time. For information about refunds, please call the Schaefer Center Box Office at 262.4046 on Monday, March 16th, beginning at 10am. In order to process refunds, original tickets must be presented to the Box Office. / Read more…



  • Ray Russell, Virginia Foxx Issue Statements Regarding COVID-19 Coronavirus

    March 12, 2020 In order to provide up-to-date information to residents of Northwest North Carolina on COVID-19 (Coronavirus), NC Rep. Ray Russell’s office is providing the following webpage links to assist residents of Ashe and Watauga Counties. “The better informed we are, the better chance we have of slowing the spread of Coronavirus,” Rep. Russell said. “As of noon, Thursday, March 12, 2020, NO confirmed cases of COVID-19 have occurred in Ashe or Watauga Counties, and 12 confirmed cases have been reported in North Carolina. The goals of medical and government professionals are to: 1) slow the spread of the disease, 2) have our medical facilities and professionals ready where it does occur, and 3) assist with individuals and businesses that are adversely affected economically.”   / Read more…



  • St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Daniel Boone Rail Jam and All Town Meetings Canceled; Rail Jam UPDATE

    March 12, 2020 Due to the health concerns associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and efforts to limit the possible transmission, the Town of Boone has made the decision to cancel events and meetings. On or before April 13, 2020, the town will reassess this measure and provide an update concerning ongoing cancellations or rescheduling of meetings. These cancellations will allow Town of Boone staff to focus their efforts on preparation and response to this developing situation in the community.  / Read more…



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