According to Buncombe County Health Department spokesman Stacey Wood, a mask mandate for indoor public spaces has been extended until January 5, 2022.
According to a Nov. 30 press release, the indoor mask requirement applies to Asheville, Biltmore Forest, Black Mountain, Montreat, Weaverville and Woodfin.
Health Director Stacie Saunders said the extension is the result of a recent surge in COVID-19 cases before the Thanksgiving holiday and possibly another surge in the coming weeks.
Pandemic reporting: ‘Observable increase’ in Buncombe’s pre-holiday COVID-19 cases; mask mandate in limbo
“Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases continue to rise after a high-level plateau. The positivity rate is now consistently above 5% and we will likely see a further increase after the Thanksgiving holiday,” Saunders said in the press release.
“The transition to living with COVID-19 means we are now doing what we can to reduce the transmission and burden of new infections. Our goal is to dampen as much as possible any surge we see during this holiday season in hopes of reaching a declining number of cases and spreading as we head into the new year.”
COVID-19 death toll: 812 death certificates for Buncombe County’s COVID-19 tragedies, says registry of deeds
Vaccines that help protect against severe COVID-19 symptoms are still available across the county, and officials are still urging residents to get the shot and help stop the virus from spreading.
Complimentary COVID-19 vaccines are available to anyone age 5 and older at Buncombe County Health and Human Services by appointment or by appointment between 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM Tuesday through Friday at 40 Coxe Ave., downtown. No ID is required.
Learn more at buncombeready.org.
Andrew Jones is Buncombe County’s government and health care reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA TODAY Network. Follow or reach him at @arjonesreports on Facebook and Twitter. Email him at [email protected]