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Governor Cooper announces Safer at Home Phase 2 will continue 3 more weeks, adds public mask mandate

The State of North Carolina will now require masks for citizens in public places, Governor Roy Cooper announced on Wednesday.

In addition, Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen announced that North Carolina will remain in Safer at Home Phase 2 for three more weeks.

Cooper made the announcement after announcing that Wednesday was the second highest day of new cases and number of people hospitalized, with 1,721 new cases and 906 people hospitalized.

Cooper and Cohen were joined by Dennis Taylor, President of the North Carolina Nurses Association and Eugene A. Woods, President and CEO of Atrium Health.

"North Carolina is relying on the data and the science to lift restrictions responsibly, and right now our increasing numbers show we need to hit the pause button while we work to stabilize our trends," said Governor Cooper. "We need to all work together so we can protect our families and neighbors, restore our economy, and get people back to work and our children back to school."

"I know North Carolinians are strong, resilient and care deeply about our communities," said Dr. Mandy Cohen, NCDHHS Secretary. "We pride ourselves on helping our neighbors. The best way we can do that now is by taking the simple action of wearing a face covering that covers your nose and mouth. If we each do our part, we can get back to the people and places we love,"

Growing evidence shows that cloth face coverings, when worn consistently, can decrease the spread of COVID-19, especially among people who are not yet showing symptoms of the virus. Until now, face coverings had been strongly recommended. Under today's executive order, people must wear face coverings when in public places where physical distancing is not possible.

In addition, certain businesses must have employees and customers wear face coverings, including retail businesses, restaurants, personal care and grooming; employees of child care centers and camps; state government agencies under the Governor's Cabinet; workers and riders of transportation; and workers in construction/trades, manufacturing, agriculture, meat processing and healthcare and long-term care settings.

"Wearing a face covering is an easy thing to do that can make a huge impact for all of us," said Dennis Taylor, a nurse, and President of the North Carolina Nurses Association. "A major spike in cases would be catastrophic to the system, and without your cooperation, nurses and our fellow healthcare providers will have a harder time caring for sick patients for weeks and months to come."

"As the leader of the state's largest health system, I am pro-health and also 100 percent pro-business, said Eugene A. Woods, President and CEO of Atrium Health. "In fact, the two are inextricably connected and I'm very proud of the way business leaders and health experts are working together to keep our economy strong."

"Medical science says to reduce the spread of COVID-19 masking works, and my sincere hope is that all the people of North Carolina can join forces to make wearing a mask not something we feel we have to do - but something that we want to do to keep each other, our neighbors, our children and our loved ones healthy and safe."


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