The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) announced on Wednesday, May 12 that its COVID-19 Support Services Program, which has helped more than 41,800 households isolate or quarantine during the pandemic, is being scaled back.

The program, launched in August of last year in COVID-19 “hot spots” around the state, offered food assistance – such as home-cooked meals and groceries – to families who had to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19 infection or exposure. 

The program also offered recipients financial relief from lost wages, COVID-19-related supplies like masks and sanitizer, transportation to and from vaccinations and medication delivery to individuals who needed that support to be able to quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19.

NCDHHS announced that the types of services offered through the program will now “narrow” since most of the allocated program funds have been spent. The department is currently “finalizing the continuation of food assistance through the program and will open applications for assistance soon.”

 Food assistance has been one of the most requested services by program beneficiaries in North Carolina.

Over the past 10 months, the program’s aim has been to encourage those who needed to say home by making it easier to do so.  It helped provide those in isolation with basic needs such as food and medicine, under the theory that, the less reason they had to leave home, the more likely they would remain there.

Four partners of the state — ADLA Inc, Duke University Health Systems, Piedmont Health Services and Sickle Cell Agency, and Quality Comprehensive Health Center — administered the program meant to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

The state’s Support Services Program was featured by Boston-based Partners in Health as part of a series of case studies on “care resource coordination” during the pandemic.

In the May 12 press release, NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen called Support Service Program “critical” to the state’s fight against COVID-19 and said it had been an important weapon in that fight.

 “Taking a whole-person approach to addressing health, including nonmedical drivers such as food, housing, transportation, employment and safety, leads to better health and well-being for North Carolinians overall, and especially during a pandemic,” Cohen stated.