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NC sees stricter guidelines for mask mandate

Governor Roy Cooper today issued additional COVID-19 safety measures to tighten mask requirements and enforcement as cases continue to rise rapidly in North Carolina and across the country. Executive Order No. 180 goes into effect on Wednesday, November 25, and runs through Friday, December 11.

“I have a stark warning for North Carolinians today: We are in danger,” Governor Cooper said. “This is a pivotal moment in our fight against the coronavirus. Our actions now will determine the fate of many.”

As North Carolina records another record high for total COVID19 cases in the state, Governor Roy Cooper announced today stricter guidelines for the state’s mask mandate. 

“Our statewide mask requirement has been in effect since June and it is still our best weapon in this fight,” Cooper said during a press conference. “Today’s executive order will further tighten that mandate, making it clear that everyone needs to wear a mask whenever you are with someone you don’t live with.”

As of Monday, there are now 320,990 PCR positive cases and 18,204 antigen-positive cases, totaling 339,194 total positive cases. The state has also seen over 5,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The state’s previous guidance called for the wearing of a mask when it was not possible to keep six feet from other people; the new guidance says masks should be worn at all times when indoors in public places.

The stricter requirements mandate that a mask be work at any time around individuals outside of your household. A mask mandate has been in effect since June, but Cooper says Monday’s order makes it clear that everyone needs to wear a mask whenever you are with someone you don’t live with.

“We need communities and local governments all over the state — but especially in these red and orange hotspots–to work with us to enforce the strong safety rules we already have in place,” Cooper said.

Cooper also said the state was working with local governments to up enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines and to increase the responsibility of businesses that repeatedly fail to enforce mask-wearing.

The order also “strengthens the role of businesses in ensuring masks are worn by everyone in the store – staff and customers – and that they are abiding by capacity limits so that people can stay distant and can stay safe, Cooper said.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, updated North Carolina’s COVID-19 County Alert System map due to the rapid rise in cases and hospitalization over the past week. Since introducing the system last week, ten more counties have moved into the red category indicating critical community spread. There are now 20 red counties and 42 orange counties. Read the update to see where each county stands and how the system was designed.

“The coming weeks will be a true test of our resolve to do what it takes to keep people from getting sick, to save lives, and to make sure that if you need hospital care whether it’s for a heart attack or a car accident or COVID-19, you can get it,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.

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