Woodard cites rising COVID cases in face mask rule

By on June 20, 2020

Two new cases reported today in Dare County

Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Woodard. (file photo)

Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Woodard says there are three primary reasons why officials decided to require the wearing of face coverings in public spaces when social distancing is not possible — a measure that takes effect on June 21 and includes some exceptions. Those reasons include the rising number of cases, the recommendation of the county’s top health official and the experiences of other states in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

The face coverings announcement came after a two-and-a-half-hour meeting of the Dare County Control Group on June 19, marking the 43rd meeting of that group since the COVID-19 pandemic struck. “Every single member of the Control Group was unanimous,” said Woodard. That group includes, among others, the mayors of all six Dare County municipalities.

In a Voice interview, Woodard said he called the June 19 meeting “because North Carolina’s [COVID-19] numbers are going up and our numbers are going up once we opened the door,” by re-opening the county to visitors on May 16.

Cases of COVID-19 have also spiked at the state level, which has reported a total of 51,389 cases as of June 20 (including 1,549 new cases reported that day) and is seeing record number of hospitalizations. Both Governor Roy Cooper and Health and Human Services Director Mandy Cohen have repeatedly called those trends “concerning” in recent days.

With two new cases reported on June 20, Dare County has now reported 46 overall cases and is seeing a spike of 14 new cases reported in the past eight days. The two new June 20 cases involve a young male and female who are non-residents of the county.

Woodard also cited the experience in neighboring Virginia, where the governor’s order to wear masks in indoor public settings appears to have helped slow the number of new cases. And he also noted that, “Our Health and Human Services Director [Sheila Davies] has recommended that we go to required mask wearing,” since the county was opened to visitors.

The June 19 Control Group decision reverses one a week earlier that recommended, but did not require the wearing of masks because, as Woodard noted at the time, it would be very difficult to enforce.

Asked about enforcement of the new requirement, he said that if people “call the Emergency Management Hotline” citing people not wearing face coverings, “we are going to turn that over to the [appropriate] town.” If the complaints involve unincorporated areas of Dare County, “we will turn it over to the sheriff’s office” for investigation.

Regarding his own anecdotal sense about the level of compliance with the previous  recommendation to wear face coverings, Woodard said, “I’m generally pleased for the most part that folks are wearing masks…I’d say probably thirty to forty percent of them are not wearing masks.”

The chairman also said that a number of public education efforts are underway or being planned to help reinforce the requirement to wear face coverings. They range from message boards on the Bypass to videos featuring the county commissioners to creating and positioning lawn signs as part of getting out what Woodard characterizes as a “proactive” message about face coverings.

The county’s new requirement on face coverings comes only days before Governor Cooper is expected to announce new measures to help control the spread of COVID-19 in the state —measures that could potentially involve stricter requirements on the use of face coverings.

Asked if he knows what the governor is planning to announce, Woodard said, “I don’t have a clue. Nobody’s given any indication of what he’s thinking.”

Update: This story had previously reported there is no penalty for non-compliance with the face covering requirement. Technically, according the Order, such a violation can be considered a misdemeanor.


  • Dethrol

    Numbers do not lie. There hasn’t been a spike in anything. The number of cases means nothing. We’re testing now, which wasn’t happening early on and even with the influx of hundreds of thousands of visitors and relaxation of restrictions, we had nearly the exact same number of cases and fewer deaths. The last six weeks (since the draconian restrictions were lifted) haven’t proven to be the end of the world as we know it (as predicted by myriad experts). Now, fully four months since the panic began, masks are suddenly important. This is a solution in search of a problem. VOTE THEM ALL OUT.

    Saturday, Jun 20 @ 1:44 pm
  • hightider

    Wear a mask. You don’t want LE involved… As of today 9 Elizabeth City cops have COVID and 13 more are waiting for test results. The city has declared the police station a COVID hotspot along with one assisted living facility. Cops are in close contact with numerous people every day. Just wear a mask; it’s not a political issue.

    Saturday, Jun 20 @ 1:53 pm
  • Johnny

    Thanks Bob!!

    Should’ve been done when the bridge opened…….
    Thanks again!

    Sunday, Jun 21 @ 12:53 am
  • Trashcan Man

    So, no penalty for non-compliance? Pass the buck to local LEO’s and Sheriff to handle? How? They have put those folks into a butt-kicking contest with only one leg.
    Spineless and cowardly. If the businesses have requested this, give them tools to assist them. It’s not that hard….even California has figured it out.

    Sunday, Jun 21 @ 10:30 am
  • Aida Doss Havel

    There is a line in this article that is not true, and that is: “The new requirement does not include a penalty for non-compliance.” From the declaration: “Pursuant to N.C.G.S. 166A-19.31, a violation of any of the restrictions and prohibitions imposed under this declaration is punishable as a Class 2 misdemeanor in accordance with G.S. 14-288.20A.”

    Sunday, Jun 21 @ 11:39 am
  • KDH back seat reviewer

    A positive test is a positive test is a positive test. The numbers are going up. So, because there was no testing there was no virus. And now that there is testing, the numbers are going up, so there is a virus?

    HELLO?! The virus is here until there is a vaccine or something to deter it(social distancing, wearing a mask) is available.

    Make the numbers work however you want them to work, up is up and down is down.

    Sunday, Jun 21 @ 3:03 pm
  • Tom

    We went from flattening the curve, WHICH WE DID, to now trying to slow down a quickly growing economy. Once again an un-elected ‘group’ is telling us to obey ‘orders’ that are NOT based on science, but rather on politics.
    The number of cases listed by the CDC are glaringly simple to understand. 56 million cases of common strains of flu verses the 2 million+ cases of coronavirus. Science fact is that masks do NOT prevent anyone from getting a virus. The media hysteria is what causes people, including this ‘group,’ to be maskers.

    Sunday, Jun 21 @ 5:45 pm
  • 60s Suzanne

    Thank you for a decision that could not have been easy. I don’t understand the big deal about throwing a mask in your pocket in case you have to go to a store for a few minutes. No one is taking away your rights. This is about health. If it can nail that many policemen alone in EC we are arrogant to think we are so special it cannot get to Dare County. Since tourist season started there is rarely room to space so maybe masks will help. I know I am tired of having people with no masks breathing over my shoulder at a cash register. Thank you especially for the electronic signs. All of these people come from areas where they have had cases and were also under restrictions so I do not understand why they think it’s a free for all once they hit the bridge. We will never know how much this may have helped us but I don’t care to play Russian Roulette. The enforcement will work out when people see signs all over the place that a mask is mandatory, business owners refuse customers without masks, and enough people will see others wearing masks they will realize they are the odd man out.

    Sunday, Jun 21 @ 7:11 pm
  • Anne

    So once again, I am required to where a mask to protect customers at the restaurant where I work but restaurants are exempt. Who is going to protect me? If you say masks work? I have to take the chance on being exposed and my family as well and 1 being extremely high risk. But I have to work because my job was offered back to me after furlough and I would of been denied unemployment which means no money to support my family, and I am sure this is happening to plenty of other people as well!!!! WHY????

    Sunday, Jun 21 @ 9:54 pm
  • Ryan pierce

    There is a colossal misconception on the effectiveness of the masks. The viral particles are atleast 7 powers of magnitude smaller than the pores in even the best N-95 masks. It’s like stopping a flood with chicken wire. Educate yourselves people. The masks offer virtually no protection and constantly force you to breath in your own carbon dioxide which is extremely bad for your health. I most definitely wont be wearing a mask anywhere whatsoever. If you do that’s your choice. And there is literally no chance having your fundamental rights infringed upon will ever stand up in a court of law. Never. Good luck trying.

    Monday, Jun 22 @ 1:19 am
  • Dethrol

    According to the CDC, June 21 saw 267 deaths from COVID-19…. NATIONWIDE. Lowest since March. Lower by thousands than heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, accidents…. No figures on the number of deaths from suicides, overdoses, domestic violence, etc, attributable to the effects of lockdowns and other fearmongering from the virus.

    Monday, Jun 22 @ 11:52 am
  • OhioBricker

    My advice is to listen to your local health officials, not strangers on Internet messageboards giving you their amateur/personal theories and opinions.

    Monday, Jun 22 @ 3:17 pm
  • TooMuch

    @ Tom…finally, someone who understands that the media with their false narratives, false facts, and rush-in to report “the story” when there is no story, has crippled our country. Yellow journalism at its finest! No scientific data to support masks (the .com websites are not scientific) and so the political/media circus continues!

    Monday, Jun 22 @ 6:10 pm
  • Johnny

    When is this going to be enforced?

    No store I’ve been to except Walmart is enforcing it…….

    Looks like us locals will keep our shopping money out of dare and up in Virginia where they at least protect the patrons in stores with mandatory mask rules.

    If the tourists won’t comply—-close the bridge!!!

    Tuesday, Jun 23 @ 11:44 am
  • Alyssa C.

    Are they making us wear mask on the beaches? Going to Nags head in a few weeks

    Tuesday, Jun 23 @ 2:21 pm