NC Gov. Cooper Announces Statewide Face Covering Mandate, Three More Weeks in Phase 2

As trends move in the wrong direction, state will not yet move into Phase 3

NORTH CAROLINA — North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper along with public health officials announced Wednesday that the state will remain in ‘Safer at Home’ Phase 2 for three more weeks and that people across the state must wear face coverings in public to combat the spread of COVID-19.

“We’re adding this new requirement because we don’t want to go backwards,” Gov. Cooper said.

The order, which goes into effect June 26 at 5 p.m., requires individuals to wear face coverings when in public places, indoors or outdoors, where physical distancing of six feet from other people who aren’t in the same household or residence isn’t possible, Gov. Cooper says.

Face coverings are required for all employees and customers of retail businesses and restaurants as well as workers in manufacturing, construction, meat processing and agriculture settings. Some of the exceptions to this order includes people with medical conditions, children under the age of 11, people who are at home and people who are walking or otherwise exercising outside when not within six feet of others.

The announcement of the order comes as the state reports the second highest daily case count increase with 1,721 and the second highest daily hospitalization count with over 900 people.

“Daily case counts have gone up. The percent of tests returning positive has stayed high,” Gov. Cooper said. “Since May 19, the number of people hospitalized has increased 56%, from being in the 500s to now over 900 in just a little over a month.”

The governor and the North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen made the decision about the order after evaluating metrics that were laid out in April by to help decide the state’s readiness to move into the next phase. The following categories were evaluated:

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is increasing.

Trajectory of Lab-Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases starting to level, but is still increasing.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive remains elevated.

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations are increasing, though we have capacity in our healthcare system.

“Overwhelming evidence that is growing by the week shows that wearing a face covering can greatly reduce the spread of COVID-19, especially from people who have it and don’t know it yet,” Gov. Cooper said. “This is a simple way to control this virus while we protect ourselves and the people around us.”

The new order expires on July 17 at 5 p.m. and the governor hopes to be able to ease restrictions on playgrounds, museums and gyms then after watching the trends for the next three weeks.

Additional Information:

Click here for more information on the executive order and mandatory face coverings.

Click here for more information on the NCDHHS guidance on face coverings.

Click here for the latest updates on the North Carolina COVID-19 case count.