While Gov. Cooper Mulls Mask Order, Some NC Local Governments Aren’t Waiting

Gov. Cooper's administration is expected to announce his decision Thursday on a mandatory mask rule, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said.

By patmoran

June 24, 2020

Raleigh, Durham, Orange County, Boone and now Greensboro order mandatory mask rules as coronavirus cases soar. 

The mayor of NC’s largest city says she is waiting to hear from Gov. Roy Cooper before making a decision about a citywide mask requirement, but two of Charlotte’s City Council members say the time for waiting is past. 

“Wearing face coverings will save lives, it would have already saved lives had there been a mandate,” Charlotte City Council Member Braxton Winston said. 

Council member Dimple Ajmera agreed, pointing out Mecklenburg County has the most lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in North Carolina. Of the state’s 54,453 cases, more than 9,000 have been found in the state’s largest urban center in Charlotte. The county has also reported 138 deaths.

In multiple studies, health researchers have concluded that masks significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Cooper’s administration has acknowledged a statewide mask order is in consideration with novel coronavirus cases spiking across the state. Cooper is expected to announce his decision Thursday.

Still, the governor has been cagey about offering any further details. Some are also still awaiting word on whether NC will move to Phase 3 of Cooper’s plan to ease social distancing restrictions Friday, although that seems unlikely given the state’s troubling metrics.  

Cooper told NC’s metro mayors in a phone call this week that he would announce his decision Thursday, Lyles told council members Monday.  Lyles has been reluctant to commit to a citywide mask order in Charlotte, although other metro areas such as Greensboro and Raleigh have been more bullish. 

On Tuesday, Greensboro issued an emergency order requiring people to wear face masks while out in public within city limits. Mayor Nancy Vaughan’s proclamation pertains to grocery stores, pharmacies, business locations, parking lots, sidewalks, and public transit, the city said in a press release.

“Wearing a mask or face covering in public is a simple gesture of kindness that helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” said Vaughan.

And in Raleigh, Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin issued a state of emergency proclamation mandating face masks on Friday. Baldwin’s decision was prompted in part by footage of customers flaunting social distancing and safety precautions in the city’s Glenwood South neighborhood earlier this month.

But over the weekend, Glenwood South crowds were once again seen ignoring the city’s new mask requirement.

Though urged to initiate stronger enforcement of the rule, Baldwin called for patience.

“We’re three days into this, and so it’s not really time to measure success” Baldwin said. “We’ll continue to monitor and look at this down the road and work with restaurant owners and others to come up with some creative ways to communicate and get masks in people’s hands.”

In North Carolina, Orange County, Durham County and Boone have also implemented mask mandates.


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