Why are you lifting the public health abatement order now?
While there is not one perfect COVID-19 metric, several of our COVID-19 key metrics (case rate, case positivity rate, hospitalizations, deaths, vaccination and boosters) have begun to
improve after a surge in January due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant. There is widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccinations for everyone 5 years of age and older and booster shots available for everyone 12 years of age and older. People5
and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised are eligible to receive an additional primary shot of the Pfizer vaccine.
Vaccination rates in Cumberland County have increased since the implementation of the public health abatement order. Vaccinations, including getting a booster if eligible, are currently the leading public health prevention strategy in response to the
In addition, there are several authorized treatment options including those effective against the Omicron variant. Monoclonal Antibodies (mAbs)
Therapy is authorized for treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in certain high-risk patients, including children and newborns. Antiviral pills have been authorized for treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in certain high-risk adults and high-risk
youth 12 and older.
COVID-19 testing capacity has increased in Cumberland County. Free COVID-19 testing is available in Cumberland County at more than 40 test locations. Free at-home COVID-19 tests are available for
every household in the U.S.
Effective compliance enforcement of the public health abatement order has become increasingly challenging.
If the county's COVID-19 case rate, case positivity rate, or hospitalizations increase, or if new evidence arises regarding the risks of COVID-19 and its variants, it may be necessary to reevaluate whether additional restrictions are necessary to reduce
the risk of death and serious illness from COVID-19.
Click here to learn what the masking guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states for our community based on levels of community transmission.
What is the effective date to rescind the order?
The public health abatement order will be rescinded effective February 20, 2022, at 5PM. This aligns with the effective date of updated quarantine guidance for K-12 schools and childcare centers from NC DHHS.
This also allows time for entities to update and implement their own masking policies and procedures.
Are masks required in schools and childcare centers?
The public health abatement order has been rescinded, effective February 20, 2022, at 5PM, and no longer requires universal masking in schools. However, schools and childcare centers may have their own policies in place to require masks that should be
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to recommend masking in schools and childcare centers when Cumberland County has a high COVID-19 Community Level. Click here to check our current COVID-19 Community Level.
In accordance with the CDC Order, masks are required for students on public transportation including school buses.
Public schools and non-public schools and operators of childcare facilities are required to comply with masking control measures as outlined in the NC DHHS Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit and the NC DHHS ChildCareStrongNC Public Health Toolkit, respectively.
Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 can return to school or childcare when it has been at least 5 days after symptom onset (or test date, if asymptomatic). The person must continue to wear a mask for an additional 5 days (days 6-10) when they return to school or childcare to minimize risk of infecting others.
Where will masks still be required?
Individual health care providers, businesses, schools, childcare centers, long-term care facilities, and other public indoor spaces may require masks. Masks remain required in Cumberland County buildings, including the Cumberland County Department of
Public Health and the Judge E. Maurice Braswell Cumberland County Courthouse.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an Order on January 29, 2021, requiring the wearing of masks by people on public transportation conveyances or on the premises of transportation hubs to prevent spread of the virus that causes
Why are you continuing to recommend masking in schools and childcare facilities? Where is the evidence for masking in schools? When should masks be worn in schools?
As we chart a path forward in 2022, we anticipate universal masking recommendations will change.
Keeping children and staff at school for in-person learning, while decreasing risk of transmission of COVID-19 remains a priority. We get there by implementing layered prevention strategies (e.g., using multiple prevention strategies together and consistently)
to protect people who are not up-to-date or not yet eligible to receive a vaccine, including students, teachers, and staff. When considering when to lift mask requirements, other
mitigation strategies should be in place. These strategies include availability of vaccinations and treatment options to prevent severe illness, physical distancing, ventilation, hand hygiene, and adequate access to diagnostic and screening
testing. Ongoing assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on our healthcare system is important. Facilities should also consider their ability to maintain normal services and staffing based on community transmission.
The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics continue to recommend indoor masking among students (ages 2 years and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools and childcare centers when our COVID-19 Community Levels are high.
While exposed individuals in K-12 and childcare setting are no longer required to be excluded from school
and childcare after exposure, masking after exposure and testing of those exposed is highly recommended.
While safe and effective vaccines are widely available for school aged children, in Cumberland County, just 12% of children 5-11 years old and 35% of children 12-17 years old have received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are considered fully vaccinated. Children under the age of five are not currently eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
Access to diagnostic and screening testing is available in some K-12 settings, including in the availability of weekly testing in Cumberland County Schools. However, in CCS fewer than 10% of students are enrolled in the program.
Continuing improvement in COVID-19 metrics, increased vaccination rates among school-aged children, availability of vaccination for children under 5, ongoing participation in diagnostic and screening, and increased availability of treatment options, will
chart our path forward in 2022.
Peer reviewed scientific evidence
Are masks effective? Where is the data to support this?
Yes! The peer-reviewed scientific evidence for the protective effect of face masks and respiratory virus infection in healthcare and community settings is overwhelming.
A summary of peer-reviewed science is available here:
The CDC has provided peer-reviewed scientific evidence that consistent use of a face mask or respirator in indoor public settings was associated with lower (56%-83%) of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and respirators (e.g. N95 or KN95) provided the most
Who should continue to wear a mask?
As recommended by the CDC and NC DHHS, everyone should wear a mask in public indoor spaces when our COVID-19 Community Levels are high. Click here to check our current COVID-19 Community Level. If you are immunocompromised or high risk for severe disease, wear a mask when our COVID-19 Community Levels are high or medium. People may choose to mask at any time. People with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.
A well-fitting, high-quality mask with multiple layers: a surgical or procedure mask, a KN95, or an N95, is recommended.
Is this the end of the pandemic? Are we in an endemic phase yet?
The pandemic is not over yet. While our COVID-19 metrics are improving, we are still experiencing high transmission of COVID-19 and elevated hospitalizations due to COVID-19. Individuals who are unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated remain at
the highest risk for severe illness and death. However, we have effective tools to reduce hospitalizations and death, including vaccinations, boosters, and authorized
treatment options. We will continue to work locally and in partnership with NC DHHS to assure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccinations, testing, and treatment options.
Where can I get a mask?
Please visit our N95 mask page for current availability of N95s from Cumberland County Health Department.
FAQ for Businesses
Can I implement my own mask mandate for my business?
Asking employees and customers to wear a high-quality mask can keep your staff well. NC DHHS recommends a well-fitting, high-quality mask with multiple layers: a surgical or procedure mask, a KN95, or an N95. Your mask policies should not conflict with local, state, and federal guidelines.
If I implement my own mask mandate, how do I ensure my patrons wear a mask?
Ensure that you have good signage up on your outward facing structure to make your mask requirement clear to the patron. NC DHHS has signage templates available for business in English and Spanish. If available, provide masks for your patrons on site. Make a plan for how you will provide services for individuals for cannot wear a mask (e.g. curbside services, virtual services, other outdoor services). Consider who should be exempt from wearing a face covering (children under age 2, some individuals with a medical or behavioral condition or disability, etc).
It is important to educate your patrons of your rule ahead of it’s effective date.
FAQ for Parents of Children too Young to be Vaccinated
When will my child be able to be vaccinated if they are under 5 years old? In February, Pfizer initiated a rolling submission to the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization for COVID-19 vaccines for children 6 months through 4 years of age. Pfizer’s data collection on the first two doses are being shared with the FDA on an ongoing basis. There is an ongoing clinical trial to evaluate a third dose after the initial 2 dose doses. On February 11, 2022, Pfizer announced they would wait for the three-dose data as they believe it may provide a higher level of protection for children 6 months to 4 years of age. This is expected in early April. The extension allows the FDA time to receive updated data on the two and three-dose regimen, conduct a thorough evaluation of it and facilitate a robust, public discussion
The FDA has delayed their advisory committee meeting to discuss the submission by Pfizer for 6 month-4years. Vaccines will become available for this age group after advisory committees from the FDA and CDC and the CDC Director makes a final recommendation.
My child is too young to be vaccinated. What can I do to protect them?
- Get vaccinated and stay up to date. Getting vaccinated and boosted is the most effective way to prevent serious illness, hospitalizations and death. For children that are too young to be vaccinated, it is important that that others in the household are vaccinated. Encourage others outside of your household who are in close contact with your child to get vaccinated and boosted.
- Know our COVID-19 Community Level and help your child wear a mask, when needed. Masks are recommended for everyone age 2 and older in public indoor settings when our COVID-19 Community Levels are high. You may choose to wear a mask at any time when our COVID-19 Community Levels are “low” or “medium”. Remind them that masks should always cover the nose and mouth. Click here to check our current COVID-19 Community Level
- Physical distancing, testing, and handwashing can reduce COVID-19 risk.
FAQ for Immunocompromised
I am immunocompromised or high risk or have family members that are immunocompromised or high risk, how can I be protected?
- Get vaccinated and stay up to date. Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to prevent serious illness, hospitalizations and death. Everyone, including immunocompromised people, should receive a COVID-19 vaccine primary series if they are 5 years and older as soon as possible.
People age 5+ who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should get an additional primary shot of those who previously received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) should receive a total of 4 doses. Individuals who initiatied their COVID-19 vaccine series with Johnson and John should receive a total of 3 doses.
- Encourage others in your household and others you are in close contact with to get vaccinated. People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected even if they are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines. It is important that individuals you may come in close contact with are vaccinated and boosted.
- Know our COVID-19 Community Level and Continue to wear a mask, when needed. Wear a mask when you are in public indoor settings when Cumberland has a high or medium COVID-19 Community Level. Click here to check our current COVID-19 Community Level. Wear the most protective mask you can, that fits well and that you will wear consistently. KN95s and N95 respirators offer the highest level of protection. In general, people do not need to wear masks when outdoors. People might choose to wear a mask outdoors when in sustained close contact with other people, particularly if they or someone they live with has a weakened immune system.
- Have a plan for rapid testing, if needed. Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days. Order your tests now so you have them when you need them. Order your tests here.
- Seek treatment. If you test positive for COVID-19, treatment is available. Treatment is currently being prioritized for those that are high risk, including individuals that are immunocompromised. Talk to your doctor about treatment or call 1-877-332-6585 (English) or 1-877-366-0310 (Spanish). The call center can assist people who do not have a health care provider.