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Governor Delays Next Phase of Reopening, Mandates Masks

Governor Roy Cooper in a candid photo wearing his black face mask where he gives coronavirus briefings.
File Photo, Courtesy Governor Roy Cooper Twitter

North Carolina is not meeting the health trends required to move to the next phase of reopening, explained State Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen in Wednesday's coronavirus briefing.

Factoring in a climb in the number of COVID-19 related hospitalizations and an upward trend in the "trajectory" of cases, Governor Roy Cooper announced the state will continue with Phase 2 of the reopening plan for another three weeks, until July 17. The decision is laid out in an executive order.

Phase 2 was initially slated to wrap up on June 26, if health indicators were deemed satisfactory by state health officials.

As of today, North Carolina has 56,174 lab-confirmed cases and 906 current COVID-19-related hospitalizations. Gov. Cooper outlined that Wednesday is the second highest day for both COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases reported.

State officials made a significant decision concerning face coverings, mandating the use of masks in North Carolina. 

"People must wear face coverings when in public places, indoors or outdoors, where physical distancing of 6 feet from other people who aren’t in the same household or residence isn’t possible," said Gov. Cooper.

He further outlined that masks "will be required for all employees and customers of retail businesses and restaurants as well as workers in manufacturing, construction, meat processing and agriculture settings."

Credit Screenshot via North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
Screenshot via North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
In a live streamed state briefing, Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen outlined North Carolina's COVID-19 'report card' and demonstrated that the state has not met the goals for moving to the next phase of reopening.

There will be exceptions made for those with "medical conditions," "children under 11" and in situations outside where a six-feet distance is maintained. 

Law enforcement may cite businesses that do not enforce the order with customers, and individuals may be cited for trespassing. Violations of Gov. Cooper’s executive orders are punishable by misdemeanor. Dr. Cohen reinforced the mask decision saying that "the scientific evidence is compelling" regarding the use of face coverings. 

WUNC's Rebecca Martinez and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Laura Pellicer is a digital reporter with WUNC’s small but intrepid digital news team.
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