DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Mask mandates in indoor public spaces come to an end Monday in Durham and Orange counties, which are among the few parts of the Triangle with the requirements still in place.
Durham County health officials announced the plans to have the mandate expire Monday when the board of county commissioners met last week. The move is taking place in tandem with an order terminating the county’s state of emergency – signed by board chair Brenda Howerton Friday. The county is pointing to increased vaccinations and lower rates of positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
Last week, Orange County, too, announced its intent to end masking requirements Monday.
Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger said in recent weeks, the county “has continued seeing our numbers decline” with respect to key COVID indicators.
“In moving forward together, we also know that COVID will continue to be with us and that we are all going to have to learn to live with it,” Hemminger said in a written statement Friday, pointing to continued mask requirements in certain places like health care facilities and public transit.
Durham and Orange counties were among the few places in the Triangle with public mask mandates still in place – after Raleigh, along with Wake County, elected to end such mandates last month following guidance from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.
Both localities had pointed to, among other factors, concerns with strain on health care facilities – including hospital systems at Duke and the University of North Carolina.
But statewide and in central North Carolina, COVID numbers have improved lately.
CBS 17 reported late last week, North Carolina hospitals saw COVID patient case counts drop each day for five straight weeks, and the test positivity rate now stands at a fraction of what it was earlier this year.
The changes Monday mean Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill will each be without mask mandates for the first time since last summer, when localities put mandates back in place in the midst of the delta variant surge.