By Nathan Ham
This afternoon, Governor Roy Cooper made the decision to require everyone in North Carolina to wear masks indoors and outdoors when six feet of social distancing is not possible. The announcement included a decision to keep the state in Phase 2 of reopening. Both of these regulations will continue through July 17.
“The numbers we see are a stark warning and we must pay attention. Since the beginning of this pandemic, I have said that data and science will lead the way. Our numbers keep us from moving forward. The order continues the safer at home Phase 2 for another three weeks,” said Gov. Cooper. “This is not where we planned to be or wanted to be. We are adding (the mask) requirement so that we don’t have to go backward. We have to stop the spread of this virus.”
The masking requirement goes into effect on Friday, June 26. Exceptions will be made for anyone under the age of 11, anyone with health problems, and anyone who is exercising with six feet of social distancing.
The data released today by the Coronavirus Taskforce paints a dreary picture for COVID-19 spread in the state. Today, North Carolina had 1,721 new cases and 906 people hospitalized from COVID-19. Both of those numbers are the second-highest total since the pandemic started. A total of 1,271 people in the state have died from the virus.
According to Dr. Mandy Cohen on the Coronavirus Taskforce, the increasing number of positive cases is not just because of additional testing. The percentage of positive tests has continued to climb over the past month as well as the overall number of cases. Cohen also said that labs in North Carolina and other states are starting to see supply shortages of the reagent compound needed to add to a test sample to see if it reacts as a positive or negative test sample for the virus.
Locally, the Blowing Rock Town Council had scheduled an emergency meeting for today to discuss a possible mask ordinance similar to that of Boone, however, with the state now making those masks mandatory, it is unclear if the town council will meet at 6 p.m. or not.
“I think it would be prudent to allow time to review and receive feedback from our public safety officials and citizens, then we can discuss adjustments to the mandate at a later scheduled meeting,” said Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers.