Virus shuts down many activities


    Gov. Roy Cooper declared a statewide state of emergency in response to five more people testing positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus on March 10.
    On March 12, Cooper recommended that all gatherings of 100 people or more be canceled. He then issued an executive order Saturday banning those gatherings. As of Thursday, there were 97 positive tests statewide, and one in Cherokee County that is being counted as a New York case.
    Here is a list of closures, postponements and other important notices from across the county.

    The N.C. High School Athletic Association shutdown all sports activities starting midnight Friday. Spring sports are tentatively scheduled to resume Monday, April 6.
    Under Cooper's executive order, Cherokee County Schools, The Learning Center charter school and other schools across the state are closed for at least two weeks.
    Tri-County Community College announced Sunday that it would close all campuses from March 16-20.

    On March 12, the Town of Andrews requested that payments be mailed or placed in the drop box outside of town hall at 1101 Main St., Andrews, NC 28901. On Monday, Mayor James Reid closed town hall to public access. Residents were advised to call town hall at 321-5111, ext. 1, with any questions.
    While courthouses across the state are remaining open, Chief Justice Cheri Beasley directed that local courts postpone cases in district and superior court for at least 30 days. All counties were also directed to post a notice asking any person who has been exposed to COVID-19 to not enter the courthouse. Online court services, like payments, are available at
    On March 13, the Nantahala Regional Library canceled all programs and events through Friday, April 10. By Saturday, the American Association for Retired Persons suspended its tax-aide program at the Murphy Public Library. On Sunday, Murphy Mayor Rick Ramsey announced that the Murphy Public Library branch would close until further notice. Later that day, library director Franklin Shook announced all branches would be closed through the end of March.
    Both the Town of Murphy and Murphy Electric Power Board have decided to suspend face-to-face business. Ramsey requested payments be placed in the dropbox in front of the building or mailed. Water payments may be sent to P.O. Box 130, Murphy, NC 28906. Power payments may be sent to P.O. Box 1009, Murphy, NC 28906.
    The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles closed the Andrews office on Wednesday as part of its effort to consolidate in-person services to offices large enough to handle social distancing. The open offices are appointment only.
    All in-person education programs through the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service were canceled through April 30. The office is closed to the public through April 1, and anyone who needs a one-on-one consultation is asked to make an appointment.

    Erlanger is limiting visitors at its hospitals, including Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital in Peachtree. For a list of visitors allowed, visit Erlanger's website.
    Valley View Care & Rehabilitation Center in Andrews started prohibiting visitors March 12. Visitation would only be granted if necessary, as in an end-of-life medical issue.

Arts & entertainment
    The Brasstown Concert Association canceled its Young Artists Concert on Sunday, Andre O’Neil concert Sunday, March 29, and 88 Plus 8 concert Sunday, April 19.
    John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown canceled all classes and events through April 18. The annual Empty Bowls fundraiser, which was scheduled for Saturday and supports food banks in Cherokee and Clay counties, will be held at a later date. The event was already sold out.
    The Community Youth Players production of Beauty and the Beast Jr. was postponed until April 23-26. Shows will be 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.
    The Andrews Art Museum's 50/50 Show scheduled for Friday, April 10, was postponed until later this spring.
    The Valley River Arts Guild decided to close operations for the time being. As a result, the Murphy Art Center will be closed.

Other closings
    Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel in Murphy decided to close for two weeks, starting at 6 a.m. Wednesday. Harrah’s will pay all team members for two weeks, and benefits will not be interrupted.
    The Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce announced Monday that it would temporarily close its office to the public. The chamber may be contacted at 837-2242 or
    The Veterans Building in Peachtree, home of American Legion Post 96, was closed for all meetings and gatherings starting March 13, as directed by American Legion National Headquarters.
    Walmart adjusted its daily hours to 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. From March 24 through April 28, the store planned to offer special shopping hours an hour before the store opens on Tuesdays for those age 60 and older.
    Some local religious services were streamed online. United Methodist churches were asked by Bishop Paul Leeland to suspend worship, while Bishop Peter Jurgis excused Catholics from attending Holy Mass.
    Murphy Health & Fitness closed at noon Monday for two weeks.
    The Murphy Rotary Club, which meets at noon Mondays at Brother’s Restaurant, will not meet for the rest of the month.
    Mainspring Conservation Trust announced Monday afternoon that it would be closing its offices until March 30. Staff will be working remotely and can be contacted through the contact information on Mainspring’s website,
    The Cherokee County Sharing Center will continue to distribute food from 1-3 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays at the First United Methodist Church in Murphy. However, the service will be operating as a drive-thru.
    On Tuesday, Dollar General stores started dedicating the first hour of each shopping day to senior customers. Stores are also closing an hour early to allow employees to clean and restock stores.
    Ingles markets started closing at 10 p.m. on Monday, with Starbucks locations closing at 8 p.m.
    NCWorks Career Center’s Manufacturing Job Fair scheduled for April 3 is canceled. Applications for all seven employers are available at the career center in at 800 W. U.S. 64 in Murphy.
    An executive order closed restaurants and bars for dine-in customers, effective at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Businesses were allowed to continue takeout and deliveries under the order.
    Blue Ridge Mountain EMC closed their lobby and drive-thru window to the public starting Tuesday. Members can still contact the cooperative at 706-379-3121, or
    Starting Thursday, State Employees’ Credit Union branches closed their lobby access and transitioned to drive-thru only for its services. Anyone who needed to access safe deposit boxes, drop off tax return information, or inquire about a loan we asked to make an appointment.
    The Murphy ABC Store implemented new hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday. The store will also limit purchases to make sure it has adequate inventory.