Coronavirus: NC governor implements statewide mask mandate

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that North Carolina will pause and continue its “Safer At Home” Phase 2 for another three weeks.

“This is not where we planned to be or wanted to be, but it is one of two important decisions that we need to make to effectively fight this disease,” Cooper said at a news conference.

North Carolina is also requiring face coverings when people are out in public, Cooper said.

People must wear face coverings when in public places, indoors or outdoors, where physical distancing of 6 feet from other people who aren’t in the same household or residence isn’t possible, Cooper said.

They will be required for all employees and customers of retail businesses and restaurants as well as for workers in manufacturing, construction, meat processing and agricultural settings.

Exceptions include:

  • People with medical conditions
  • Children under 11
  • People who are at home
  • People who are walking or otherwise exercising outside when not within six feet of others

Cooper said a business can be cited for failure to comply, and customers who refuse to wear a mask can be charged with trespassing.

North Carolina had 1,721 new cases and 906 people in the hospital Wednesday, and it is the second highest day in both of those categories since the pandemic started. There have also been 1,271 people who have died from the virus.

North Carolina has been careful in lifting COVID-19 restrictions, Cooper said. Because public health experts warn that removing restrictions too fast or all at once can cause a dangerous spike in the virus that would overwhelm our medical system.

“Our cautious approach is like a dimmer switch, rather than an on/off switch,” Cooper said. “Over the past weeks and months, even as we’ve slowly turned the dimmer switch up and eased restrictions, we’ve seen community spread of the virus increase in North Carolina.”

Daily case counts have gone up.

Since May 19, the number of people hospitalized has increased 56%, from being in the 500s to now over 900 in just a little over a month.

Cooper said Dr. Anthony Fauci testified before Congress on Tuesday.

Fauci said that North Carolina could see an “insidious increase in community spread, which will be much more difficult to contain as the community spread amplifies itself.”

There’s been a lot of concern expressed by local and state officials about people not social distancing and not wearing masks.

Tuesday, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said she asked Cooper to requires masks statewide when in public.

This week, the town of Matthews Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution in support of a Mecklenburg County-wide requirement for face coverings in certain circumstances.