Reflecting on a year of loss, sacrifice and resilience in Buncombe County amid COVID-19

Buncombe County manager Avril Pinder June 5, 2019.

March 12 is a solemn anniversary for Buncombe County. It’s the day we officially declared a state of emergency in response to COVID-19 in 2020.

As I write this, more than 300 of our family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, church members, and others are no longer part of our community due to this global pandemic. It’s been an arduous year of grief, perseverance, innovation, and generosity that’s brought us to this moment of cautious optimism.

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While paying respect to those we’ve lost, I feel compelled to recognize the sacrifice and collaboration of our community at-large. The County’s six municipalities, our two school systems, health care representatives, fire districts, law enforcement personnel, nonprofits, and other community leaders joined our Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and pioneered crucial initiatives like providing to-go meals for newly homebound students and creating an interactive food assistance map.

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I’m painfully aware that counterbalancing success stories are narratives of small businesses that couldn’t stay afloat and families that missed meals, medications, and other basic necessities as the strain of a global pandemic amplified existing difficulties. In that spirit, I urge us all to exercise empathy, offer hospitality, carry other’s burdens when possible, and spur each other toward good deeds. As we get closer to the common goal of normalcy through vaccines and herd immunity, please remain diligent in exercising COVID etiquette and seek out those in our midst silently struggling.