Some central NC sheriffs say they won’t enforce Cooper’s statewide mask requirement

Local News

HALIFAX, N.C. (WNCN) – Sheriffs in Halifax and Sampson counties said Wednesday evening they won’t enforce Gov. Roy Cooper’s statewide masks mandate.

Halifax County Sheriff Wes Tripp wrote that he encourages people to be careful and take safety precautions, but the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office “will not be taking enforcement actions against people or businesses for not wearing masks.”

“The wearing of a mask is a personal decision, not one of a governor in Raleigh,” he wrote.

Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton wrote that he believes Cooper’s order is unconstitutional and unenforceable.

“I do encourage and trust that all citizens will take it upon themselves to carry out the necessary precautions to ensure the safety and protection of themselves and those that surround them,” Thornton wrote. “I am not encouraging negligence, but I would like to reiterate that it is not the Sheriff’s duty to enforce health related mandates unless court ordered by a Judicial Official or the Legislature.

Cooper on Wednesday announced that North Carolina would remain in Phase Two of reopening until at least July 17. He also said masks would be required beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday.

Dr. Mandy Cohen with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services presented the latest data concerning COVID-19 in North Carolina and said the trajectory or COVID-like syndromic cases and the overall trajectory of cases are trending in the wrong direction.

The trajectory of positive tests as a percentage of total tests, which remains elevated, not where Cohen wants the state to be.

The governor spoke about Dr. Anthony Fauci testifying before Congress on Tuesday where he spoke about North Carolina.

“Dr. Fauci cautioned that leaders in our state have to act to blunt the surge of cases. He also testified that the next couple of weeks are critical for our country in our fight against COVID-19,” Cooper said.

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