‘Reopen NC’ Founder Casts Doubt on Effectiveness of Masks. She’s Wrong.

Kevin Rivera, barber at Midwood Barbers in Charlotte, cuts hair in late May while wearing a mask. Masks are required in personal care businesses like salons, but NC is considering a mandatory mask rule in all public spaces. (Photo for Cardinal & Pine by Grant Baldwin)

By patmoran

June 17, 2020

Epidemiologists agree masks could play key role in slowing spread of coronavirus.

“I do not comply! I will not consent!” Ashley Smith proclaimed in a Facebook video posted  Monday.

Smith, co-founder and organizer for Reopen NC, a controversial group advocating for the lifting of social distancing restrictions, brandished a cast iron frying pan, a pair of tongs and a face mask. After reading from instructions included with the mask that stated it does not eliminate the risk of contracting any virus or disease, Smith concludes that the face mask is a symbol of oppression.

“This does not prevent the spread of COVID,” Smith told the camera, although health researchers have concluded in multiple studies that wearing a mask can significantly reduce the spread of the dangerous virus. 

“This [mask] is not a sign of your compassion,” Smith says in the video. “This is a sign of control.”  

Smith’s video followed Gov. Roy Cooper’s comments Monday, in which the governor indicated a mandatory mask rule is in consideration. New coronavirus infections have continued to rise in North Carolina since Memorial Day, even as Cooper’s administration mulls ways to ease restrictions.

RELATED: Why NC’s Latest COVID-19 Spike May Delay Phase Three

Face masks have been a frequent target of social distancing critics, although epidemiologists say the face coverings could play a crucial role in slowing COVID-19 while the world awaits a vaccine. 

“A key point is that the countries that flattened the curve used masks in public,” Chris Kenyon, head of the sexually transmitted diseases unit at The Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, said last month.

Gov. Cooper’s administration has urged North Carolinians to wear a mask.

Cooper is expected to address the next steps in his reopening plan next week. The state was expected to move into Phase 3 of reopening June 26, although that timetable is clearly in flux

Watch for updates from Cardinal & Pine.

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