North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) said Wednesday that he is issuing an order requiring residents to wear masks when in public and to keep state coronavirus restrictions in effect for at least another three weeks amid an increase in COVID-19 cases.
“The overwhelming evidence that grows every week shows that wearing a face mask can greatly reduce the spread of COVID-19, especially from people who have it and don’t know it yet,” Cooper said during a press conference. “Facial coatings are an easy way to control this virus.”
The order will require residents to wear masks at all times in public, both indoors and outdoors, when they cannot keep at least six feet of distance between themselves and people who are not in their homes. People with medical conditions and children under the age of 11 will be exempt from the requirement.
Cooper said the face mask requirement will help North Carolina’s economy in the long run.
“We don’t want to go back. We want to stabilize our numbers so we can continue to reduce restrictions safely and most importantly for our children to go back to school, “Cooper said.” I urge everyone to be a leader in the use of face covers. I encourage companies to be strong in their compliance. Decreasing the spread helps our economy and these facial covers do it. “
Several states have already imposed similar requirements, while others have resisted the move, even as coronavirus cases skyrocket.
In addition to the new requirement, Cooper said the state will remain in phase two of its reopening for at least three more weeks. The second phase allows some companies, including salons, restaurants, and retail stores, to open to 50 percent of their capacity.
“Since the beginning of this pandemic, it has been clear to me that data and science would lead the way. By following that standard, it is clear that our numbers will prevent us from moving into the next phase of easing the restrictions, ”he said.
Playgrounds, gyms, museums, theaters, and bars remain closed according to North Carolina Phase Two guidelines.
The state health department reported 1,721 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, marking the second highest daily total since the start of the pandemic, according to The News & Observer.
North Carolina also reached its second highest daily number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 on Wednesday at 906, according to The News & Observer. The one-day high of 915 was reached on Tuesday, the newspaper reported.