Raleigh’s requirement that people wear face masks indoors will continue until the severity of the coronavirus pandemic lessens, city officials said during a city council meeting Tuesday. 

The city’s most recent order went into place last month in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases. As of Tuesday, Wake County had 121,514 cases and 821 deaths. 

In addition, one Raleigh zip code now tops the list of neighborhoods with the highest number of coronavirus infections—27610, which covers East Raleigh from the Warehouse District to South Tarboro Street, has more than 11,600 COVID-19 cases, the most in North Carolina.

“The last time we presented this information to you, we were actually experiencing a leveling in the amount of COVID cases,” said Whitney Schoenfeld, Emergency Management and Special Events Coordinator for the city. “That’s no longer the case as things have been ramping back up, due in large part to the Delta variant.” 

As long as more than 5 percent of people in Raleigh are testing positive for COVID-19 each day, the mask mandate should remain in place, Schoenfeld said. 

Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin agreed, adding, “As long as hospitalizations remain where they are, nothing is gonna change.” 

Cases among city employees peaked in August, with 111 confirmed last month, the highest since the pandemic began. Vaccines also appear to be trending upward, however, with 71 percent of full-time employees vaccinated, according to Schoenfeld. That percentage is lower for the city’s police—65 percent vaccinated—and fire—62 percent vaccinated—departments.

City workers are now required to be vaccinated or get tested every week. Those who get vaccinated before the end of September are eligible for $250 and two extra days of paid leave.

Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle. 

Follow Staff Writer Jasmine Gallup on Twitter or send an email to jgallup@indyweek.com.