By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on June 15, 2020
On a day when Governor Roy Cooper said he is considering making the use of face masks mandatory in the state, Dare County recorded four new cases of COVID-19, marking the seventh new case to be reported in the last three days.
Those cases bring the total number of COVID-19 infections in Dare County since the pandemic began up to 39. The four cases reported on June 15 all involve non-residents of the county. One is a female between the ages of 50 and 64 and three are males between the ages of 18 and 24. All four have been transferred to their home counties. None of the 15 non-residents who have tested positive in Dare County remains in the county. And of the six active cases in the county itself, one person remains hospitalized and five others are isolating at home.
Earlier in the day, at his regular press briefing, Governor Roy Cooper said that he would announce by “the first of next week” whether “we are going into the next Phase [of opening the state], and if we are, what it will look like.”
On May 20, Cooper announced a more cautious “Safer-at-Home” Phase Two easing of restrictions that allowed some businesses, such as restaurants and personal care services, to open at reduced capacity while keeping others, such as bars and gyms, closed. That Phase Two Order is slated to expire on June 26, and with statewide COVID-19 trends going in the wrong direction, the governor has been non-committal about what he will announce next.
In recent days, the number of new daily COVID-19 cases reported by the state has been near or above 1,000 a day. The number of people in hospitals with COVID-19, roughly 800, is also at a high-water mark. And the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests out of all tests administered in North Carolina is hovering around 10%, which state officials say is among the highest in the country.
With Cooper and NC Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen frequently expressing concern about those numbers, the governor, in response to a reporter’s question, opened the door to a mandatory face mask requirement at his press conference.
“It is absolutely in discussion right now whether we make cloth face coverings [a requirement] and how we do it,” he said. “We are looking at additional rules to potentially make them mandatory.”
During the press conference, reporters raised several questions about how closely COVID-19 prevention guidelines are being followed in the state — citing examples that ranged from crowded restaurants to social justice demonstrators.