By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on June 18, 2020
At a June 18 press briefing dominated by questions about using face masks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Roy Cooper expressed a clear desire for more North Carolina residents to wear the masks in public and suggested that state officials will announce a plan to try and make that happen sometime next week.
“We need more people to wear masks,” Cooper said. “And we need to figure out the best way to do that…We’ve got to remove the politics from all of this.”
Cooper did say that when he announces whether North Carolina will move into a different phase of re-opening next week (the current “Safer-At-Home” order expires June 26), “we hope to be announcing a comprehensive plan to slow the spread of the virus in North Carolina.”
The June 18 briefing, like many in recent days, comes as the state’s COVID-19 “numbers” continue to elicit expressions of concern from state officials. There were 1,330 new cases reported on Thursday and a record high 857 hospitalizations reported as well.
Given the trends, reporters peppered Cooper with a series of question about mask wearing, including why he doesn’t immediately require it. This week, the Raleigh City Council approved a new measure that will mandate the wearing of face masks in public when social distancing is difficult and that will go into effect on Friday, June 19. Violators, however, will not be punished.
In response to that question, Cooper said that imposing a mask-wearing requirement is complex and would have to take into consideration people who would have to be exempted. But he did say that if such a measure is unveiled, “enforcement is one of the issues we would look at.”
During the briefing, the governor did reveal one new element of the upcoming effort to get more people to wear masks — public service announcements from celebrities and community leaders encouraging citizens to don the cloth face coverings in public.