Cumberland County's mask order is being rescinded, effective February 20, 2022 at 5 p.m.

After over four and a half month of implementation, the Cumberland County Public Health Director will be rescinding the Public Nuisance Mask Abatement Order, effective February 20 at 5 p.m.

The move makes any requirements outside of Cumberland County official buildings optional across Fayetteville and the rest of the area. There will still be a mask mandate in place for all Cumberland County buildings, and the Department of Public Health “still strongly encourages residents to wear a well-fitted mask while in indoor settings.”

The move comes as Cumberland County Schools removed its mask order, effective February 16. A release from the County said that the decision aligns with North Carolina Department of Public Health and Human Services new quarantine guidelines for schools and child care centers. It is also designed to allow time “for organizations to update and implement their own masking policies and procedures.”

“The COVID-19 landscape looks different than it did two years ago. We know what works and what stops the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Jennifer Green, Cumberland County Public Health Director. “Masks remain an effective strategy for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Despite the recension of this formal order, we continue to recommend masking in public indoor spaces, particularly and in settings with lower vaccination rates.”

The order had originally been put in place on August 27, 2021, after a spike in Delta Variant cases of COVID-19 in Cumberland County. It required face coverings in public indoor spaces. But the County said “improvements in COVID-19 metrics, increasing availability of testing, vaccinations and boosters and authorized treatment options has prompted this recension.”

Cumberland County advised that individuals must still comply with any mask order requirements a private business, healthcare and long-term facilities, educational settings and other institutions may have in place.

“Public and non-public schools and childcare facilities are required comply with masking control measures after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms as outlined in the NC DHHS Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit and the NC DHHS ChildCareStrongNC Public Health Toolkit, respectively.”

County officials said the infection positivity rate for North Carolina peaked at 36.3 percent on January 22, 2022, but has decreased to just 14.4 percent as of February 15. Cumberland County’s rate decreased from 37.8 percent on January 31, to 25.5 percent on February 15.

“Free COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots, which reduce the risk of severe hospitalizations and death, are available to those ages 5 and older at the Cumberland County Department of Public Health. The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Cape Fear Valley Health System’s hospitals within Cumberland County has decreased from 172 on Jan. 31 to 106 as of Feb. 15.”

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Brandon Plotnick is a former sports journalist, now living in the digital space with interests all over the musical and pop culture map.