FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- COVID-19 reforms are happening at Cape Fear Valley Health as the virus infects fewer and fewer people in the region.
Beginning Friday, Cape Fear Valley Health will ease up on mask requirements and visitation guidelines. Masks will no longer be required for most patients, visitors or staff. Also, those 65 and older, and other vulnerable patients can once again have visitors in the waiting room. Before, visitors weren't allowed there at all.
"Cape Fear Valley is falling in line with all of the other facilities in our area," said Emily Cribb, the service line director for Emergency Services of Cape Fear Valley Health. "We think it's time to kind of relax those kind of mandates. Allow people to visit with their family again, and relax the mask mandates as they apply to patients that are in rooms."
This latest mask mandate is a sign of the times. Cape Fear Valley Health officials said COVID-19 cases have been consistently low for long enough in the system-allowing them to relax the mask and visitation requirements.
Cribb said there have only been up to a dozen COVID cases in the entire Cape Fear Valley Health system throughout the sandhills in the past two weeks. Those case numbers were upwards of 150 during the worst points of the pandemic. Those still required to wear masks include people like those with respiratory illnesses, immunocompromised patients, as well as people in places like the cancer center, emergency department, NICU or the intensive care unit.
Ongoing staffing shortages in hospitals nationwide are coinciding with COVID-19 mandates becoming more lenient. However, officials say those staffing issues shouldn't intersect with COVID-19 risks.
"We have a lot of the tools that we need now to manage where we were and where we're going with COVID-19, and certainly what we're seeing in our data indicates that we are seeing it, you know, an all time low as far as cases and impact for our healthcare system," said Dr. Susan Kansagra, the state health officer and assistant secretary for public health at the Department of Health and Human Services.