CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – Governor Roy Cooper on Monday raised the mandate for the North Carolina mask, calling for requirements for the state’s current image and restrictions on the use of retail stores.
The news is that the number of “red level” counties experiencing a critical level of community spread of the coronavirus doubled on Monday. The number of known coronavirus cases in North Carolina rose 2,414 on Monday, and hospitalizations reached a new record high of 1,601 patients, according to data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
“Our nationwide mask requirement has been in place since June and is still our best weapon in this fight,” Cooper said at a news conference. “Today’s implementing regulation further tightens this mandate, making it clear that everyone should wear a mask when they are with someone they do not live with.”
The new implementing regulation, which will take effect on Wednesday, will tighten the order of masks, and masks must now be worn in public indoor spaces, including:
- In the gyms when you train.
- In all restaurants unless the eateries are actively eating or drinking.
- In all schools, public or private.
- On all means of public transport.
The new order also places more responsibility on retailers to enforce the use of masks within businesses and to limit occupancy. For stores larger than 15,000 square feet, an employee must also be designated at the store entrance to be responsible for ensuring compliance with the customer mask.
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Under the new implementing regulation, local and state law enforcement as well as local health departments can enforce a nationwide mask assignment. Individuals and businesses who fail to comply with the mask order may be subject to a Class 2 misdemeanor penalty, which could result in a fine of up to $ 1,000.
“You have to wear a mask if you’re near someone who’s not in your household. That’s the simple point,” Secretary of State Mandy Cohen said.
The order expires on December 11th.
Last week, the state health department introduced a nationwide color-coded COVID-19 county alarm system that accurately identified viral hotspots around the state. When the alert system was introduced, COVID-19 was critical in the community in at least 10 counties in North Carolina.
But since Monday, that number has risen to 20, Cohen said.
“We’re on very volatile ground,” he said Monday
All counties in North Carolina have high levels of COVID-19 virus transmission, according to top public health officials, but some are more affected than others. The new alert system will make localized data more accessible, such as the proportion of cases and the impact on medical resources. Counties are marked in red, orange or yellow, depending on the extent of local spread, based on three specific indicators:
- Number of cases: Number of new cases per 100,000 people in the last 14 days.
- Percent Positive: Percentage of positive tests over 14 days.
- Hospital Impact: Percentage of COVID-19 hospital care, percentage of visits to the COVID-19 emergency department, open hospital beds, and critical staff shortage over 14 days.
The color levels show the following:
- The red – critical community is widespread
- Orange – a significant community spread
- Yellow – significant community spread
Starting Monday, counties with current red alerts include Alamance, Alexander, Avery, Bertie, Catawba, Columbia, Davie, Gaston, Guilford, Hoke, Mitchell, Montgomery, Perquimans, Robeson, Surrey, Swain, Vance, Wilkes, Wilson, and Yadkin.
Orange warnings were issued to 42 counties with significant community penetration. These counties include Ashe, Bladen, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Camden, Caswell, Chatham, Cherokee, Cleveland, Craven, Cumberland, Dare, Davidson, Duplin, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Granville, Greene, Halifax, Iredell, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lincoln, Madison, McDowell, Moore, Nash, Northampton, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Pitt, Randolph, Richmond, Rockingham, Rowan, Rutherford, Sampson, Scotland, Stokes and Warren.
Communities in Red and Orange counties are advised to limit inter-household mixing, minimize the number of people living in social circles, confine public interactions primarily to basic activities, and avoid places where people congregate. Businesses in these communities should also recommend that, whenever possible, they use telecommuting, cancel essential travel, and avoid indoor meetings or events attended by more than 10 people.