Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and the N.C. Department of Public Safety’s Division of Emergency Management (NCEM) have distributed approximately 3.5 million cloth face coverings, 4.5 million procedure masks, and significant amounts of additional personal protective equipment (PPE) to targeted settings across the state.
The ongoing PPE shipments support operations, including schools, nursing homes, first responders, agricultural facilities, child care facilities and courthouses.
“North Carolina has taken aggressive steps to get personal protective equipment in the hands of those who need it,” said Gov. Roy Cooper. “Making sure students, teachers, nursing homes and more have what they need to stay safe is a top priority as we battle this pandemic.”
“We’re distributing face coverings and other personal protective equipment in targeted settings to help North Carolinians practice the 3 Ws – Wear, Wait, Wash – and slow the spread of COVID-19,” said NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen.
“It is important that we decisively procure and distribute PPE to support our critical infrastructure and public safety and healthcare partners statewide to ensure that we are maintaining our focus on prevention,” said North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry.
NCDHHS and NCEM distribute PPE across many of the state’s targeted COVID-19 response initiatives. In total, the state has already distributed more than 7 million pairs of gloves, 650,000 face shields, 600,000 shoe covers, and 100,000 units of hand sanitizer in addition to 3.5 million cloth face coverings and 4.5 million procedure masks.
In late July, NCDHHS and NCEM completed an initial shipment of PPE and supplies to farms and agricultural operations, including over 900,000 masks. Future PPE shipments will reach farmworkers, farmers, and other agriculture workers in targeted settings such as N.C. Cooperative Extensions, N.C. Farmworkers Health Programs, meat packing plants, and community organizations.
Earlier in July, NCDHHS, NCEM and N.C. National Guard completed an initial PPE shipment to North Carolina’s more than 3,000 state-licensed long-term care facilities and also completed the first shipment of face coverings for visitors to N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC) facilities. Moving forward, NCAOC facilities will receive approximately 300,000 face coverings per month from NCDHHS for public distribution.
Also in July, NCDHHS sent cleaning supplies and PPE including face coverings, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant to each of the state’s approximately 4,200 currently-open child care programs. Child care programs have been open with additional health requirements throughout the pandemic, providing an essential service to other frontline workers.
Since June, NCDHHS, NCEM, and the NC National Guard have been distributing PPE Starter Packs to school nurses and health care staff in anticipation of the upcoming academic year. Initial shipments being delivered to each school include a two-month supply of disposable masks, gowns, thermometers, and face shields. NCDHHS and NCEM has also begun additional PPE projects to support schools, including distribution of five reusable face coverings to each student, teacher, and staff member in North Carolina public schools that will be offering in-person instruction. The state has also provided face coverings to private schools offering in-person instruction.
Additional venues for targeted PPE distribution include NCDHHS-funded no-cost testing sites offered through the Community testing in High-priority And Marginalized Populations (CHAMP) Initiative, where contracted vendors are required to offer face coverings to individuals who present without one.