09 N2105P66009HCape Fear Valley Health System has made COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for its 7,000 employees, physicians, students, vendors and volunteers. The deadline for compliance is Oct. 1.

“With the rising trend in positive COVID-19 cases locally and nationally, vaccinations remain our best defense against the pandemic,” said Cape Fear Valley Health CEO Michael Nagowski.

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are rapidly increasing locally. Only 50-55% of Cape Fear Valley’s employees have been vaccinated to date, said health system spokesperson Chaka Jordan.

Cumberland County’s COVID-19 test positivity rate is 13.7%. This rate has increased significantly in the last two weeks. The CEO and other members of the health system’s leadership held town hall events with employees to answer questions before making this decision. Employees with medical or religious concerns are eligible for exemptions. Nagowski said employees will not be required to use vacation time to get their vaccines.

The Fape Fear Valley Health System includes the Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, Highsmith-Rainey Specialty Hospital, Cape Fear Valley Rehabilitation Center, Behavioral Health Care, Bladen County Hospital, Hoke Hospital, Health Pavilion North, Health Pavilion Hoke and Harnett Health.

On July 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised mask guidance. In areas with substantial and high transmission, like Cumberland County, the CDC recommends that everyone, including fully vaccinated individuals, wear masks in public indoor settings to help prevent the spread of the Delta variant and protect others. City of Fayetteville and Cumberland County government employees and people visiting public buildings are again required to wear masks.

City Manager Doug Hewett distributed a memo via email to city employees announcing the change. Citizens are encouraged to schedule appointments before entering City Hall. Residents can access many city services 24/7 at fayettevillenc.gov.

County Manager Amy Cannon echoed Hewett’s concerns. “We are monitoring our county metrics and the recommendations from the CDC, State health officials and our Public Health Director Dr. Jennifer Green regarding any further protective measures,” Cannon said.

The Fayetteville Area System of Transit has instituted requirements for bus riders. FAST employees and passengers must wear face masks, not face shields or bandanas. Passenger capacity has been reduced from 35 to 22 on buses. Bus seats are marked for social distancing.

Passengers should enter and exit buses from the rear doors. Daily disinfecting and cleaning of FAST facilities and buses are scheduled.

Vaccination clinics are available countywide. Walk-ins are welcome at Cape Fear Valley vaccine clinics during the month of August until clinic capacity is reached, but appointments are preferred. Visit www.capefearvalley.com/covid19.

Free vaccines are also available at the Cumberland County Department of Public Health located at 1235 Ramsey St., weekdays 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. No appointments are needed. Learn more at cumberlandcountync.gov/covid19.

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