As COVID cases surge, will mask rules return in North Carolina? Cooper to speak Wednesday

National

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — With COVID-19 cases rising, will mask mandates return to North Carolina?

Los Angeles and several California cities have gone back to mandatory mask wearing. Lawmakers in Arkansas and Missouri are also talking about reimposing the restriction.

Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease specialist at UNC, said he believes it’s time for mask mandates to return. He said they should be required for vaccinated and unvaccinated people in places where vaccination status is unknown, like in stores and restaurants.

He said there’s no set number of cases, or a certain positivity rate that should be the threshold for the mask mandate.

“If the trend’s going down and you have the same numbers as we have today, that’s very different than the numbers going up,” Wohl said. “What we’re trying to do is not be reactive, but proactive.”

CBS 17 asked Gov. Roy Cooper’s office if the recent rise would trigger the return of restrictions.

Cooper’s deputy communications director Mary Scott Winstead said, “The governor and state health officials continue to closely monitor the state’s trends and follow the science and guidance from experts in responding to the pandemic. It is important for all eligible North Carolinians to get one of the three safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to keep our communities safe from the virus and highly contagious variants.

Masks are still required for everyone on public transportation, in health care settings, as well as some other at-risk places. When it comes to businesses, it’s mainly up to them.

At Alpha Dawgs restaurant masks are required for those who are not vaccinated. General Manager Shaquille McNair said he checks for proof of vaccination. Customers can present their vaccine card, or a photo of the card.

“We have masks here available, if you want to wear one, if you don’t, you know, you have a nice day, but at the end of the day this is for my protection, your protection, and for the protection of my team,” McNair said.

McNair said he’s concerned with the Delta variant and would like to see the mask mandate return.

“I think they should be reinstated just simply because you know we need to learn our lesson from last time,” McNair said.

Masks are not required for anyone at Sky Parlor Salon. Owner Joey Humphrey said many customers are pleased with the policy. He said customers and clients can request that one another wear masks.

“If they would feel more comfortable with one of the stylists wearing a mask they could talk to the stylist about that and vice versa,” Humphrey said. “If we have a stylist that would feel more comfortable with a client wearing a mask they could talk to their client about that.”

Humphrey said he is fine with the state’s current policy.

“We’re still doing the exact same thing we were doing with the mask mandate just without masks,” Humphrey said.

The governor will be part of the Department of Health and Human Service’s update Wednesday afternoon.

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