The decision to start requiring the wearing of face masks or other face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Dare County was a unanimous one among the six mayors of the county’s towns, Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Woodard stresses in a videotaped message released today that reiterates the reasoning behind the decision.

As of 9 a.m. yesterday, all people in Dare County must wear face coverings in all indoor and outdoor spaces in which six-foot social distancing cannot be maintained—subject to eight exceptions enumerated in the new emergency declaration.

Among the exceptions are “while dining in a restaurant” or when an individual has a justifiable health or religious reason for not wearing a face covering.

Children under the age of 12 also are not required to wear a covering.

According to Mr. Woodard’s message today, Dr. Sheila Davies, director of the county’s Dept. of Health and Human Services, also recommended the face-covering measure, a fact he did not previously mention.

Over the past weekend, three new cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in Dare County, according to the DCDHHS’s dashboard, bringing the total to 49. Non-residents accounted for all three cases. (See The Beacon, 6/21/20.)

“It was clear that voluntary compliance with face covering recommendations has not been effective here in Dare County,” Mr. Woodard reiterates in today’s message, “which is why our local business owners had requested a stronger tool for compliance, for everyone’s safety.”

When Chairman Woodard met on Thursday, June 11, with the mayors of Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, and Manteo, to discuss mandating the use of face coverings, he previously said, the officials did not reach a consensus in support of such a requirement. Instead, Mr. Woodard released a message on June 12, in which he only “strongly encouraged” face coverings. (See The Beacon, 6/13/20.)

In an amendment to Dare County’s emergency declaration for COVID-19 signed by the Chairman June 19, the face-covering mandate is specifically imposed with the “consent” of the mayors of the five shoreline towns and that of the Manteo mayor’s “designee.”

Chairman Woodard reiterates in his message today that business on the Outer Banks is “booming,” with 150,000 to 200,000 new vacationers arriving each week.

He asks Dare County residents to continue to observe the three W’s—wear, wait, and wash—“to protect yourself and others” and “to set a good example” for our visitors.

To view the Chairman’s videotaped message in its entirety, go to Dare County’s YouTube channel at youtube,com/DareCounty.

See also https://www.darenc.com/Home/Components/News/News/6370/1483

(In going back over our postings about the face-covering mandate, we discovered that we inadvertently dated Friday’s post with Saturday’s date. We have corrected that error. Friday was a busy day, folks.)

COVID-19 STATEWIDE: The number of reported new confirmed COVID-19 cases in North Carolina for today is 804. The last time a single-day total of new cases dipped below 1,000 was last Tuesday. The positive-test rate for the day is 6.9 percent, which is lower than the rates for the past three days, but not lower than the rates for each of the past seven days.

Hospitalizations statewide continue to be high, with 870 reported for today. Deaths now number 1,220.

Phase Two of North Carolina’s reopening will expire Friday at 5 p.m., and Phase Three will begin, if Governor Roy Cooper does not take action otherwise. The Governor will likely make an announcement about the expiration, and issue the necessary executive order, by mid-week.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 6/22/20


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