Mecklenburg County commissioners unanimously vote to end indoor mask mandate

This goes into effect at midnight on Feb. 26.
Mecklenburg County commissioners voted Wednesday night to remove the county-wide indoor mask mandate.
Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 4:50 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 25, 2022 at 11:55 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Mecklenburg County commissioners voted Wednesday night to remove the county-wide indoor mask mandate.

This goes into effect at midnight on Feb. 26 and masks will then be optional.

Shifting COVID-19 conditions and higher community immunity led to Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Dr. Raynard Washington recommending revoking the current rule of indoor face coverings due to higher community immunity from vaccinations and prior infections.

“Current trends point to a shift in COVID-19 conditions and indicate the need for a revised response plan that encompasses prevention, surveillance, and equitable distribution of resources,” Dr. Washington said.

The seven-day case rate is down by 87 percent and hospitalizations are down 37 percent.

Public Health also recommends K-12 and childcare providers to establish plans now to transition to mask-optional by early March 2022.

Federal regulations still require mandatory face coverings in certain healthcare settings, public transportation, and in airports and on airplanes.

Commissioners voted on whether or not to proceed with the recommendation after they heard from the public, which was heated at times.

Originally, the county set a goal of 30 days below 5 percent and then in November changed it to seven consecutive days below 5 percent to rescind the mask mandate. Dr. Washington said Wednesday that this metric is no longer reliable enough to continue using as a goal.

“Getting a booster dose if you are eligible and continuing to wear a mask when appropriate, especially for people at high risk for serious illness, is the best thing you can do to avoid hospitalization and death from COVID-19,” said Dr. Washington.

Related: Gov. Roy Cooper to discuss mask-wearing guidance in North Carolina

The county announced they could recommend rescinding the mask mandate by next Wednesday.

There was expected to be some discussion over what is recommended for schools even though the county will not vote on whether mandates should still be in place at CMS.

Related: Mecklenburg County Public Health director is ‘hopeful’ county is past omicron peak

Mecklenburg County Health Director Dr. Raynard Washington spoke about the mandate last Tuesday as he cited improving COVID-19 case rates at a Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners meeting.

Some local residents have thoughts about the mask mandate and its potential end.

“You know it’s a tricky question, It’s been such a long time coming but I actually have an infant at home who can’t get vaccinated yet so I’m kind if favor of that until everybody can be vaccinated, the safest thing to do is to keep the masks in place,” Mecklenburg County resident Krysten Reilly said.

“At the end of the day we all take a calculated risk in when we go out with our without masks, so yeah I don’t like the idea of having a mask mandate in place. I think it is time to end that,” Mecklenburg County resident Ian Shephardson said.

COVID-19 Response 2.0 refocuses the County’s surveillance efforts away from case investigation and contract tracing and incorporates wastewater testing and emergency department visit tracking for COVID-like illness, which are more reliable early indicators of transmission.

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