RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Many of the counties with the highest rates of compliance with Gov. Roy Cooper’s mask mandate are in or near the Triangle, survey data indicate.
CBS 17 News analyzed the North Carolina-specific data in a set gathered by The New York Times and Dynata that estimates mask usage by county across the country.
The data is particularly timely with Cooper and state Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen crediting the month-old executive order requiring people to wear face coverings in public with stabilizing certain key metrics of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our actions to slow the spread of the virus are having an impact,” Cohen said earlier this week. “Specifically, we see a direct correlation to the start of the statewide mask requirement. Two to three weeks after implementing this requirement, we started to see the beginning of these more stable trends.”
Dynata asked roughly 250,000 people across the country how often they wear a mask in public when they expect to be within 6 feet of another person. Respondents had five possible answers: Never, rarely, sometimes, frequently and always.
According to the Times’ estimates, 83 percent of people in Durham County and 80 percent of those in Orange County responded that they always wear a mask.
In all, eight of the top 10 counties in the state with the highest percentage of always wearing a mask are in the CBS 17 viewing area — including Chatham (76.6 percent), Person (74.6) and Wake (72.7 percent).
Orange County was tops in the state in another measure, with 94.3 percent of people saying the either always or frequently wear masks. That combined figure was higher than 90 percent in 13 counties, including Durham (93.6), Person (91.2), Chatham (90.5) and Sampson (90.5).
The estimates also illustrate where people might not be complying with the mask mandate.
In 11 counties, more than 10 percent of respondents answered they never wear masks.
Columbus County had the highest percentage at 17.9 percent — while barely over half of people (51.1 percent) said they always wear them and only two-thirds of people said they either always or frequently wear face coverings.
According to DHHS data Wednesday, that county has 139 COVID-19 cases per 10,000 residents — one of the 20 highest rates in the state.
The Times said it weighted survey data by age and gender, approximated their locations from their ZIP codes and used a weighted average for each U.S. Census tract of the 200 nearest responses with more weight given to closer locations. Those tract-level estimates were rolled to the county level according to the population of each tract, the Times explained.