‘We have to take the politics out of it': Gov. Cooper strongly urges face coverings to slow COVID-19 spread

North Carolina considers mandating face masks

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Gov. Roy Cooper and North Carolina health leaders continue to stress the importance of wearing face coverings in public settings.

It may not be the most comfortable accessory, especially as the temperatures continue to rise, the governor said, but it is a big factor in slowing the spread of the coronavirus, along with social distancing.

Discussion of requiring a mask for state residents in public settings is happening among local officials.

“No, it’s not the most comfortable thing you wear but you get used to it,” Cooper said of face coverings. “It’s a piece of protection, like gloves in freezing weather or a sun hat in warmer weather, an extra thing you put on that keeps you healthy. This piece of protection may save your life or the lives of your loved ones.”

North Carolina reported 1,333 new confirmed cases on Thursday and has a new high of 857 hospitalizations.

That’s a trend that concerns health leaders.

Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen strongly urge people in North Carolina to wear face coverings when out in public – at the grocery store, businesses or any location with large groups of people.

“Regardless of whether it is a law or store requirement, wearing a face covering when you are around other people slows the spread of the virus,” Cooper said. “This is a low cost, low tech way to protect ourselves and our communities. It’s an important way to slow the spread of the virus without hurting the economy.”

Cooper said the state is examining ways to require people to wear face coverings.

There are several cities and counties in North Carolina that require them, along with individual businesses, according to the governor.

“We are examining, carefully, the issues surrounding a statewide requirement of face masks,” Cooper said. “Some of our local governments have already put this order into effect immediately.”

Cooper said there are many processes to determine when it comes to ordering a statewide mandatory for people to wear face coverings, including people of disabilities.

Soon, Cooper said, there will be public service announcements with athletes, restaurant and business owners and people on television urging the public to wear the face coverings.

The governor said that with everyone complying by wearing face coverings, that will flatten the curve and help ease more restrictions to help the economy open back up.

'‘We have to take the politics out of it,” Cooper said. “We have to realize that strong people wear face coverings because it is a sign of compassion and that you actually care about people. Regardless of whether face coverings are mandatory, we need to get people to wear it.”

The governor said he will address the status on face coverings next week, but did not specifically say whether or not the state will enforce them.

“You need to have some kind of enforcement,” Cooper said. “We appreciate businesses and retail stores that have established policies that want all of their customers to have masks on, and they do a pretty good job of enforcing that.”

DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen says there have been more studies pointing to the effectiveness of cloth face coverings in public.

North Carolina leaders say this piece of material can save lives.

“Now we have published studies of a lot of different methodologies showing the importance of wearing a face mask to reduce spread,” Cohen said. “The face covering really shows effectiveness when we can get many, many folks doing that together.”

Other states have already implemented a face mask requirement. In Virginia, the public has been required to wear a face mask in public since May 29. Virginia has shown a decrease in coronavirus cases since mid-May, according to its 7-day rolling average of positive cases.

While businesses have taken precautions to reduce the spread of coronavirus in its facilities, many owners and employees say they wouldn’t mind seeing a requirement for customers.

The executive order requiring face masks in Virginia lists exceptions such as health conditions, when eating or drinking, and when exercising.

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