Wake County leaders say masks may be required soon as COVID-19 cases rise

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Masks or face coverings may become mandatory in Wake County.

 Durham and Orange counties have already begun requiring face coverings in public and now Wake County leaders are discussing whether to do the same. 

Wake County has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state, and county leaders want to bring those numbers down.

Raleigh’s mayor says she’s worried about what she’s seen lately in the city.

RELATED: Raleigh city leaders to discuss face mask requirement amid rising COVID-19 cases

“I went to the grocery store on Saturday (and) half the people did not have on face masks,” said Mary-Ann Baldwin. “And I’ve noticed and gotten more and more complaints from people in retail centers saying that people are not wearing masks or coverings.”

That may change. The city of Raleigh and Wake county are discussing mandating face coverings to try to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

North Carolina State University just announced it will require masks in all university buildings and programs.

Baldwin says masks will be most important in areas where people cannot socially distance.

“We are talking about public or private spaces, but really focused on grocery stores, pharmacies, business locations,  public transit and restaurants,” she explained.

Wake County Commission chair Greg Ford said he’d prefer the whole county agree on any new restriction.

“It is in the best interest of all of Wake County to have consistency across the county and not have a situation where we have some towns doing one thing and other towns doing another,” he told commissioners at a Monday afternoon meeting, but acknowledged that’s not guaranteed.

“We’re going to do what we have done since March and that is what we feel is in the best interest of the citizens we serve and represent. If that ends up being a difference of opinion with some of our mayors then so be it,” Ford said.

 Baldwin says she expects Raleigh will move forward with the mask mandate even if other towns in the county do not.  City leaders plan to discuss and vote on the issue Tuesday.

She said she was concerned when she saw a lot of people over the weekend without masks and not practicing social distancing.  

“A lot of the other towns don’t have that same issue,” she said. “I can understand and respect that, but I really think that we have to do something to protect those who are coming here.” 

Mayors from across Wake County were expected to discuss the issue Monday night.

There is no timeline for when the mandate could go into effect.  

Gov. Roy Cooper says he is considering a statewide requirement for face coverings, saying in an afternoon news conference: “We want people voluntarily to do this, but we are looking at potentially making these mandatory.”

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