The Cumberland County Courthouse houses meetings of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners in downtown Fayetteville. Melissa Sue Gerrits / Carolina Public Press

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Eligible Cumberland County residents at risk of spreading COVID-19 will be provided isolated shelter for the foreseeable future.

The county Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the renewal of the N.C. Non-Congregate Sheltering program on Monday.

The program provides shelter for those eligible who need to isolate due to exposure or contraction of COVID-19 and don’t have another way of safely quarantining.

Among those included are first responders and health care workers who need to isolate from family members because of exposure and those who test positive or were exposed and need to quarantine.

Those who need to socially distance as a precautionary measure are also eligible. It’s up to the discretion of public health officials, but it typically includes high-risk groups, such as people over age 65 or those with underlying health conditions.

The county, in partnership with local nonprofits and religious organizations, pays for shelter in a hotel along with other needs such as food, medicine and transportation, among other things.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and N.C. Emergency Management then fully reimburse the county.

The county reported that it has provided shelter and food to more than 70 people in Cumberland and transportation to 35.

Over 92% have been for those at risk of severe COVID-19, according to the county.

The program will operate as long as the federal government approves it or the governor’s state of emergency order stays in effect, or for one year, whichever date comes first.

Those who don’t have a safe way of quarantining due to their living arrangements and think they are eligible can email county Emergency Management Coordinator Garry Crumpler at gcrumpler@co.cumberland.nc.us.

Latest COVID-19 data for Cumberland

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies Cumberland as a high transmission county, along with all of North Carolina and a wide swath of the rest of the country.

That designation is made based on new case counts and percentage of positive cases in the past week. New case counts over 100 per 100,000 people and a positivity rate over 10% are considered high transmission.

As of Monday, Cumberland has seen more than 350 new cases per 100,000 people in the past week, according to the CDC.

Among all tests in the past week, 19% have returned positive.

But that number has gone down. Earlier in the month, the positivity rate was more than 31%, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Based on the high transmission, the CDC recommends that anyone indoors in a public setting in Cumberland County wear a mask to reduce transmission.

But that will be by personal choice, as the county ended its indoor mask mandate on Sunday.

The county still recommends mask-wearing, and businesses can still require them if they choose to.

As of Monday, 548 people in Cumberland County have died due to COVID-19 during the pandemic.

Ben Sessoms

Ben Sessoms is a Carolina Public Press staff writer based in Fayetteville. Send an email to bsessoms@carolinapublicpress.org to contact him.