Mask mandate in effect in Raleigh

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) -The City of Raleigh implemented a mask mandate for indoor spaces regardless of a person’s vaccination status. It began Friday at 5 p.m.

The announcement comes after Wake County mayors met in an open meeting Friday morning.

Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin met with Wake Forest Mayor Vivian Jones, Wake County Commissioner Matthew Calabria, Associate Medical Director and Epidemiology Program Director for Wake County Nicole Mushonga, among others, to discuss a potential countywide mandate.

“The number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase in our community and across the state at an alarming rate,” Baldwin said. “The idea that we can hope COVID-19 will just go away on its own is not a reality. It’s time to take responsible action and today we are taking an important step to make sure the people of this community, and those who visit us, remain healthy and safe.”

The City also strongly encourages the use of masks outdoors when social distancing isn’t possible.

Calabria said while it would help if people throughout the state all wore masks again, regardless of vaccination status.

The decision to instate a mask mandate comes as Wake County has seen a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, specifically with the delta variant, Mushonga said.

Mushonga highlighted a 972-percent increase from the first week of June to the first week of August in the county, as well as a 123-percent increase in hospitalizations in the last 14 days.

She added that Wake County is also seeing its largest surge since the first week of January, with 3,031 positive cases through just the first eight days of August.

Mushonga noted this could be because of the increase in testing nationwide, as Wake County has seen an 18-percent increase in recent weeks, but the number of cases is approximately 1,000 less than July in a little more than a week into August. Wake County saw 4,627 cases in all of July.

The current trajectory of the virus would lead to an 81-percent increase, with Wake County seeing an increase of 8.2-percent as of Thursday, Mushonga said.

However, not all mayors in the meeting were for the mandate, including Wake Forest’s mayor.

Jones raised questions about what good the mandate will do if not every county in the state is enforcing it.

She also brought up a series of other concerns from there being no law that says one can’t wear a mask and how the mask mandate can be enforced.

Calabria said he is hoping law enforcement officers, businesses and individuals are encouraged to work together and wear a mask. He said he doesn’t want to make this mandate draconian, as something harsh or severe, but as a way for the public to work together to slow the spread.

“(This) unlocks officials to instruct those to proactively wear a mask (and) to work with businesses who were trying to enforce this in their own places, but didn’t feel they didn’t have support from the county,” Calabria said in the meeting. “This isn’t the first time we have gone down this road.”

Calabria also said he expects to have documentation outlining regulations for Wake County by next Friday, even though Baldwin is looking to put a mask mandate in place by this evening.

CBS 17 will update this story as more information becomes available.

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