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NC To Still Prioritize Masks For Health Care Workers

The N95 mask made by 3M

North Carolina health officials say they are still prioritizing masks for health care workers as President Trump prepares to release new guidelines that suggest people should wear face coverings whenever they go out in public.

In a press conference Friday afternoon, N.C. Health and Human Services Secretary Doctor Mandy Cohen called wearing a mask only one component of protection against the coronavirus.

"We worry when people wear masks, they think that is a one-size-fits-all for protecting themselves and their community," she said. "But the tried and true things that work are washing your hands, washing down those surfaces and of course keeping social distance."

The state's emergency management director says North Carolina has only received about a third of the personal protective equipment it requested from the Strategic National Stockpile, including N-95 masks.

In addition, state health officials say North Carolina has to "do better," in light of more reports of people violating social distancing orders. 

Another state forest is closing Friday after the state Agriculture Department found people were still gathering in its parking lots. 

Governor Roy Cooper addressed the state, as North Carolina enters the first weekend under his statewide order to state at home.

"I need you to do just that," he said. "I know it's tempting to get away from all this and gather with friends and extended family, especially when Friday means the end of the week. Don't."

Meanwhile, the governor called the shortage of personal protective equipment a "bad situation." The state has received about a third of the supplies it's asked for, and Cooper said the federal government has indicated it cannot immediately spare any more.

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
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