The COVID-19 situation remains dire and that means more mask mandates.

At a news conference yesterday, Governor Roy Cooper and N.C. DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen gave an update on the state’s pandemic trends. North Carolina’s metrics “continue to show the virus spread increasing,” and officials are urging what they call “layered protection:” that is, getting vaccinated, wearing masks, and encouraging everyone you know to do the same.

Citing a 1,370 percent increase in COVID-19 cases since June, Wake County Board of Commissioners chairman Matt Calabria signed an emergency declaration yesterday afternoon requiring everyone to wear a mask inside public places such as grocery stores and retail shops, effective beginning at 7 a.m. Friday.

“The virus is surging through our community, and it’s our responsibility to take appropriate steps to protect public health and safety,” Calabria said in a statement. “Science shows wearing a mask reduces the risk of spreading COVID-19, making it one of our greatest weapons in the fight against this harmful virus. Prompt action now will prevent the need for further restrictions and enable us to beat the virus more quickly.”

The order applies to the unincorporated areas of the county as well as to the towns of Garner, Knightdale, Morrisville, Rolesville, and Zebulon and will apply to 83 percent of the county’s population. As we’ve reported, Raleigh and Cary already have mask mandates in place, and Apex, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Wake Forest and Wendell aren’t reinstating mask mandates at this time.

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