Breaking News
More () »

Cooper considering new rules to make face masks mandatory in North Carolina

During the week of May 31 through June 6, about 9.9% of tests done returned positive. This is a data point that has been increasing in the past several weeks.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In a news conference Monday afternoon, Gov. Cooper said the state is watching its COVID-19 case numbers closely to monitor for hospital bed and ICU bed capacity.

"Right now, our hospitals do have bed capacity, and that’s good," Cooper said. "But that can change quickly. As we see North Carolina’s upward trends, we must re-double our work in detecting and isolating this virus." 

Cooper said NC DHHS is pushing assistance to local health departments, especially in the counties experiencing the highest growth. Those counties include Mecklenburg County, Alamance, Duplin, Durham, Forsyth, Guilford, Johnston, Lee, and Wake. 

"And as we continue to track our trends closely we know there will be other counties added to that list," Dr. Mandy Cohen said. 

Dr. Mandy Cohen is also reminding North Carolinians to stay home if they're feeling ill. 

 "It's important to stay home if you are sick, and stay at home for 14 days if you had close contact with someone who had COVID-19," Dr. Cohen said. "We need to remember that we all have the power to keep this virus level low."

Dr. Mandy Cohen said she knows some people are having trouble getting tested because of conflicting testing criteria. 

Dr. Cohen said they are reaching out to testing centers to remind them that NC DHHS has expanded testing criteria to include those who don't show symptoms. 

"We have appreciated their partnership, increasing access to testing, as this is going to be key to our ongoing strategy to help slow the spread of this virus," Dr. Cohen said. 

RELATED: Could a facemask requirement stop the spread of COVID-19?

Those who should get tested include: 

-People who live or work in high-risk settings like long term care facilities correctional facilities or in settings where they are at higher risk for exposure

Grocery stores food processing plants and childcare should get tested

-Anyone who has attended a mass gathering, including a protest should get tested, 

If you're not sure if you should get tested, you can visit, check my symptoms tool on the NC DHHS website. 

When asked about making face coverings mandatory in North Carolina, Gov. Cooper said he's looking into additional rules to make face coverings mandatory. 

Gov. Cooper said face masks are already mandatory for employees of personal care, like nail and hair salons. 

Cooper said he wants people to voluntarily wear masks but also said he and health officials are looking at additional rules to potentially make them mandatory. 

WRAL, the NBC affiliate in Raleigh, North Carolina, said Tuesday that Wake County officials decided to led cities in the area take the lead on implementing mask-wearing mandates.

Raleigh City Council unanimously approved at its Tuesday meeting the drafting of a revised emergency ordinance that would include a mask requirement, WRAL reports.

Dr. Mandy Cohen went on to explain that health officials are looking at studies that show the importance of wearing face coverings. 

"The data shows that we can still flatten this curve," Dr. Cohen said."I know we see things going in the wrong direction. But if we act collectively we can take control of our fate here." 

These are the Charlotte area counties with most new COVID-19 cases

Health officials in Cabarrus County report a triple-digit case count increase, as 184 new COVID-19 positive cases were identified between June 5 and June 15.

Health officials said with more testing done in the county, the number of positive COVID-19 cases will increase, but say the percent positive is also increasing. Health officials said that number concerns them. 

During the week of May 31 through June 6, about 9.9% of tests done returned positive. This is a data point that has been increasing in the past several weeks.

“Over the last two weeks, we have seen a dramatic drop in the average age of death due to COVID-19 related illness, from 83 years old to 39,” said CHA Health Director Dr. Bonnie Coyle. “Deaths among younger populations, along with our rapidly growing case count are extremely concerning as we approach the tentative start of Phase 3 Reopening and the July 4th holiday.”

Active cases in long term care facilities has dramatically decreased.  As of June 13, 11 of the active 202 cases in Cabarrus County are related to a long term care facility.  At one point in this pandemic, a majority of cases were related to a facility.  This shift illustrates the spread in the community, health officials said.

According to North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services, Cabarrus County has a per capita case count of approximately 35 cases per 10,000 residents. It's the third-highest per capita case count in the metro Charlotte area.

Rowan County has the second-highest per capita case count in the metro area, with 64 cases per 10,000 residents. Mecklenburg County has the highest in the metro area, with 67 cases per 10,000 residents.

These are the top five metro-area counties with most new cases since the beginning of the month (according to DHHS data):

  1. Mecklenburg County: 2909
  2. Union County: 279
  3. Cabarrus County: 243 (figure based off latest county update provided above)
  4. Gaston County: 239
  5. Rowan County: 228

The following are the highest per capita case jumps (cases per 10,000 residents) for the Charlotte metro-area since the beginning of the month:

  1. Mecklenburg County: 27 more per capita cases
  2. Rowan County: 16 more per capita cases
  3. Stanly & Catawba Counties: 13 more per capita cases
  4. Union County: 12 more per capita cases
  5. Cabarrus, Gaston & Caldwell County: 11 more per capita cases


RELATED: Track COVID-19: Carolinas outbreak map

RELATED: Have a vacation in North Myrtle Beach soon? Some businesses are closing again amid coronavirus concerns

RELATED: Poll: Black Americans most likely to know a COVID-19 victim

RELATED: Trump rallygoers must sign COVID-19 waiver