McDowell County State of Emergency & Lodging

The McDowell County Board of Commissioners updated their state of emergency order with the following amendment. Please, take a few moments to read the details. 

Certain types of lodging properties are closed, hotels and motels will remain open.  If you travel to our county from outside the state of North Carolina, a quarantine directive is included. 

As of March 30th, 2020, Catawba Falls Trail is temporarily closed. The amendment cites restrictions on other outdoor activies.  Again, please read the details below and plan your activities accordingly to remain safe and practice social distancing guidelines.



WHEREAS, COVID-19 is a serious communicable disease that can result in serious illness or death; and


WHEREAS, in response to the global spread of the virus and the disease it causes, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned of the high public health threat posed by COVID-19 globally and in the United States; the United States Department of Health and Human Services Secretary declared a public health emergency in the United States for COVID-19; and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS} confirmed multiple cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina; and


WHEREAS, the President of the United States and the Governor of North Carolina has proclaimed a state of emergency, and has banned mass gatherings involving more than one hundred persons, and the CDC has recommended no gatherings of more then fifty persons for the next eight weeks; and


WHEREAS, in consultation with healthcare professionals and based upon guidance from the CDC and NCDHHS arrangements must be made immediately to take such actions as are deemed necessary and  appropriate to ensure that COVID-19 remains controlled and that residents and visitors In McDowell County remain safe and secure.


WHEREAS, the Chairman of the McDowell County Board of Commissioners declared a State of Emergency in McDowell County, including the Town of Old Fort on March 17, 2020 and activated the County's Emergency Operations Plan; and


WHEREAS, to date, five (5) people have tested positive that were travel related for the COVID-19 virus within the geographical boundaries of McDowell County; and


WHEREAS, human travel promotes the spread of this disease and the presence of visitors in McDowell County has the potential to exacerbate the spread of the virus and the anticipated strain on our limited healthcare facilities caused by it; and


WHEREAS, there are a limited number of hospital personnel, emergency medical personnel and first responders who are already extremely busy caring for sick or injured people in addition to dealing with unprecedented COVID-19 issues; and


NOW, THEREFORE, pursuant to the authority contained in the McDowell County State of Emergency Ordinance and under Article 1A of Chapter 166A and 36A of Chapter 14 of North Carolina General Statutes, and under the McDowell County Emergency Operations Plan; I hereby declare a State of Emergency (Amendment Number 1) exists for McDowell County and the Town of Old Fort.


I hereby proclaim that all provisions set forth in the State of Emergency proclaimed on March 17, 2020 are still in full force and effect.


In addition, I hereby direct all persons within the geographical boundaries of McDowell County, North Carolina to help reduce possible impacts to emergency medical personnel and first responders by:


  • avoiding all outdoor activities considered to be high risk (rock climbing, rappelling) within McDowell County. Low risk activities such as walking, hiking (in familiar areas), running, golfing or biking are

allowed if the requirements of Social Distancing and Mass Gatherings outlined in North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper's Executive Order 121 are followed.

  • avoiding hiking or backpacking in unfamiliar territory.
  • not camping overnight in the Pisgah National Forest, the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area, or along the shoreline of Lake James.
  • closing of the Catawba Falls Hiking Trail by the US Forest Service.


Further, I hereby direct that rentals of all lodging facilities, including Airbnb rentals, bed and breakfasts rentals, VRBO vacation rentals by owners, campgrounds, timeshare units, condos, and other rental programs or places where leases or rentals are for less than one (1) month in duration, be suspended until further notice to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus due to human travel. Hotels and motels are excluded from this directive and exemptions are allowed for work related stays, emergency facilities and homeless shelters.


Further, I hereby direct that persons travelling to McDowell County from outside of North Carolina must self-quarantine upon arrival for 14 days before entering the community.


I direct that copies of the Amended Declaration be distributed to the news media for publication and broadcast, and that a copy be flied with Clerk to the Board of McDowell County Commissioners.


This Declaration shall become effective immediately upon endorsement and shall continue until rescinded pursuant to NCGS 166A-19.22(c).


DECLARED this the 30th day of March, 2020.

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