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COVID crisis worsens; cases skyrocket: ‘We’re running out of ambulances;’ Mission ICU jammed; 51 in Buncombe die in August
Thursday, 16 September 2021 19:29

From Staff Reports

A surge of COVID-19 cases and deaths is overwhelming Buncombe County’s health care system, overextending local health care workers, equipment and facilities — and producing horrific numbers unseen since the pandemic peak prior to the vaccine.

“At Mission, where the number of COVID patients has reached record levels, some patients have been turned away and rerouted to other area hospitals that are also at or near their limits,” the website reported on Sept. 12.

“Buncombe County Emergency Services is requesting that people not dial 9-1-1 unless it’s a life-or-death emergency. ‘We’re running out of ambulances,’ the agency’s director, Taylor Jones, said,” according to “‘What it looks like,’” Drew Reisinger, Buncombe County Register of Deeds, said this week, ‘is there are so many people infected, and [the delta variant of the coronavirus] is so aggressive, that our death rate is going to be on par’ with the peak numbers of last winter, before vaccines were widely available.

“Mission Health reported 166 COVID-positive patients in its six-hospital system on Thursday, including 127 at the flagship Mission Hospital in Asheville. Two months ago, the entire Mission system had just seven COVID patients,” the website noted.

The situation is so dire that, at “a Sept. 7 COVID-19 update briefing, Buncombe County Commissioner Parker Sloan read the first draft of a resolution that would require Asheville and Buncombe County schools, in addition to Mission Hospital, to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for employees,” the Asheville Citizen Times reported on Sept. 10.

Commissioners’ Chairman Brownie Newman later clarified that Sloan’s resolution was intended “for future thinking” — and that no action was taken on Sloan’s vaccine mandate proposal.

“My intent here is to tell and to ask certain employers that now is the time to try things to incentivize their employees to do that,” Sloan was quoted by the ACT as saying.

Mission CMO retracts statement that only unvaccinated died in COVID-19 upsurge
Thursday, 16 September 2021 19:28

From Staff Reports 

Mission Health’s chief medical officer recently retracted a statement he made Sept. 7 during the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners’ briefing on COVID-19, Asheville television station WLOS (News 13) reported Sept. 9.

During the briefing, Dr. William Hathaway said all patients at Asheville-based Mission Hospital who had died from COVID-19 during the recent delta variant surge were unvaccinated.

Since that statement, News 13 noted that it received several calls and messages to its newsroom, saying a loved one or a family member had died from COVID-19 at Mission hospital after being vaccinated.

On Sept. 9, Dr. Hathaway released an announcement saying he made the statement based on the knowledge had had at the time. He now confirms at least two people who have died of COVID-19 at Mission (through Sept. 9) were vaccinated.

Black man pleads guilty to assault on white cop in plea bargain deal: Sentence too light, but DA’s office checked, cleared Woodfin officers of wrongdoing, FOP leader says
Thursday, 16 September 2021 19:26
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WOODFIN —Jonathan Barker, the black man from Swain County who was filmed being shocked with a taser by white Woodfin Police officers after he failed to comply with their orders, pleaded guilty on Sept. 3 to assaulting a government official.

The races of those involved are mentioned because some outsiders were infuriated that Barker was tased — and felt it was because he was black and the three officers were white. The case was turned over to Buncombe District Attorney Todd Williams for review — and he found no wrongdoing after reviewing a video taken of the incident. 

Rondell Lance, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police, told the Daily Planet in a Sept. 11 interview that, while he felt the sentence was too light, he was pleased that the DA’s office cleared the officers of any wrongdoing, and that the DA also conferred with the officers, in advance, on the planned plea-bargain offer.

Cawthorn announces individual, public assistance granted to Western N.C.
Thursday, 16 September 2021 19:25

From Staff Reports 


CANTON — U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-Hendersonville, on Sept. 8 announced that individual and public assistance has been granted to Western North Carolina after recent catastrophic flood damage from Tropical Storm Fred decimated Haywood and Transylvania counties, and parts of Buncombe, along with other adjoining counties.

In a Sept. 8 press release, Cawthorn, who visited the area personally to witness the damage and to formulate a strategy to seek help for those affected from the government, said, “The character of our community is demonstrated in times of trial and hardship. When floodwaters ripped through our community weeks ago, it devastated homes, businesses, neighborhoods and families. 


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