Local North Carolina governments handling latest CDC masking guidance differently

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Most of the counties in North Carolina have a substantial or high risk of community COVID-19 spread according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC is recommending everyone in those counties wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.

But, local governments in central North Carolina are handling the guidance differently.

Beginning Thursday, Cumberland County will require masks in all county government buildings, regardless of vaccination status, County Manager Amy Cannon said on Wednesday night. She cites the county’s nearly 14-percent positivity rate average across the last two weeks and the latest CDC guidance as the reason for the change.

“We have many citizens that visit our county buildings, and we feel a responsibility to protect the public while continuing to try to provide services to them on a daily basis,” Cannon said.

Additionally, anyone entering Durham City Hall will be required to wear a mask beginning Monday, according to Mayor Steve Schewel. 

“We will also be re-doubling our efforts to get everyone in Durham vaccinated,” Schewel said. “That is the key to halting the spread of the virus.”

Furthermore, in Wake County, Board of Commissioners Chair Matt Calabria expects an announcement from county health officials in the coming days. He said public health officials are looking at the CDC guidance closely before making a decision.

“What’s under consideration most immediately is what, if anything, should be done in county facilities and places run by the county,” Calabria said.

He said mask requirements for private businesses is not under immediate consideration at this time.

“The first thing we need to do in light of this CDC guidance is ensure that we are following best practices, but I have no indication that our public health folks are ruling anything out or in,” Calabria said. “So, I don’t want to venture any opinion on that at this time.”

There are currently no mask requirements for Cumberland County businesses as Cannon said the county uses the Governor’s guidance when it comes to businesses. 

CBS 17 followed up with Cannon and asked if a mask mandate for businesses were to return, if it would be enforced?

“It’s difficult to enforce, but yes,” Cannon said. “Because (of the) large number of retail establishments in our community, yes, we do it through our public health department on a complaint driven basis.”

Additionally, Johnston County said it’s waiting for Gov. Roy Cooper’s Thursday press conference before implementing any changes.

Chatham County also told CBS 17 its not contemplating reinstating indoor masks requirements at this time. It did not state why.

Both counties have high transmission and substantial transmission, respectively.

Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said the city is waiting for guidance from United States Department of Health and Human Services and Wake County and said that there are no plans in place at this time to enforce any new guidance that could come down from DHHS or the county.

“We were one of the first cities to enact a mask mandate during COVID,” Baldwin said. “What we’ve learned is let the data be your guide in making decisions and listen to the experts.”

NCDHHS said it’s evaluating the CDC’s guidance and expects to provide updates later this week.

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