Buncombe County Confirms First Case of COVID-19 in Visitor to County 3/16/19

March 16, 2020

Buncombe County Health and Human Services (BCHHS) wants our community to know that their health and safety is our number one priority. Today, Macon County Public Health announced a presumptive positive case of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) in a person who visited Buncombe County last week. This is the first known presumptive positive case of COVID-19 associated with Buncombe County.

The individual visited Asheville March 10-13, 2020, at which time they had symptoms of COVID-19. They were tested by BCHHS Communicable Disease staff and immediately traveled on to Macon County for isolation. The individual has been cooperative with all public health requests. BCHHS public health staff are conducting an active investigation into this individual’s activities during their time in Buncombe County. More information will be provided as we identify potential close contacts. BCHHS will not release further details about the individual to protect their privacy.

BCHHS Medical Director, Dr. Jennifer Mullendore, urges the public to remain calm in response to this news, saying, “It is important that our community remain calm, stay informed and be prepared for the spread of this illness. It is critical that everyone follow the guidance to stay home when sick. Additionally, everyone needs to wash their hands frequently and cover coughs and sneezes. High-risk people – those over 65 years of age or with underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems – should stay at home to decrease their chance of being infected.”

What to do and when to seek medical evaluation and advice:

  • If you or a family member have fever AND cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider, or an urgent care if you do not have a healthcare provider. DO NOT show up at your healthcare provider’s office or the urgent care without calling first.
  • Do NOT go to the emergency room. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve the most critically ill.
  • If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 and tell them your symptoms.
  • If you do not have a healthcare provider and cannot afford to be seen at an urgent care, call 828-250-5109 to speak with a Communicable Disease nurse at BCHHS. Leave a message and a CD nurse will return your call as quickly as possible.
  • People with symptoms should NOT come to the health department.

BCHHS and response agencies will continue to update our community regularly about COVID-19 in Buncombe County. Strong coordination between Buncombe County public health, Buncombe County Emergency Services, healthcare providers, and infection prevention staff at local hospitals is occurring to identify and manage any person who develops signs or symptoms consistent with COVID-19. General information about COVID-19 in North Carolina can be found here the NC COVID-19 hotline at (866) 462-3821. They will answer your question or triage your concern accordingly. For more information about novel coronavirus in Buncombe County, click here.