By Travion Jones
After two years of mask mandates, North Carolina is letting loose and will allow most indoor facilities to be mask optional. Places such as hospitals, nursing homes, and transportation services are still requiring masks based on federal regulations.
Why Was The Decision Made?
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the metrics for COVID-19 are continuing to move in the direction they deem healthy.
COVID trends in NC are decreasing, lowering the risk of infection, and improving hospital capacity. Gov. Roy Cooper encouraged schools and local governments to end their mask mandates as well.
“We are taking a positive step on mask requirements to help us move safely toward a more normal day to day life,” said Cooper.
Throughout the pandemic, North Carolina has seemingly always adapted to the provided data in the current stage of the pandemic.
Vaccines and boosters have proven to be effective against the virus therefore it has prevented deaths, severe sickness, and being hospitalized. Treatment for the virus is available for those at higher risk of severe disease.
Places Adopting This Change
Since the mandate was lifted universities, businesses, and other organizations have begun changing their mask policies.
The mask policy at William Peace University changed on Feb. 28. Masks are still required in places like instructional spaces, the wellness center, and athletic training areas. The library, hallways, and outdoor spaces are optional. It is up to the instructor’s discretion for one on one meetings.
For those who are recovering from the virus, masks are required for indoor and outdoor spaces.
WPU President Dr. Brian Ralph encouraged students to maintain vaccination and booster status.
“Our goal has always been to protect our students, faculty, and staff while maintaining a positive and productive in-person experience for learning,” said Dr. Ralph.
Gyms are still exercising caution. Planet Fitness has yet to change its mask policy, and individuals are required to wear a mask while in the building. Organizations like the YMCA are still requiring masks but will adhere to the masks policies of their partnering school systems.
Staff and faculty will continue to wear masks while they are working.
How Others Feel About The Mandate Being Lifted In North Carolina
While many are thrilled the world is getting closer to “normal,” some feel concerned that this decision may have been made too early with the number of cases in North Carolina.
Citizens are encouraged to wear their masks at their comfort level, and are encouraged to get vaccinated.
Raleigh officials are reassuring the community that this decision was made carefully. The mayor of Raleigh, Mary-Ann Baldwin, encourages personal choice and responsibility.
“The recent trends are all pointing in the right direction for the mandate to be removed,” Baldwin said in a Feb. 24 media release announcing the end of the city’s mask mandate.
Community and federal officials are tracking the trends, and will provide updates as the pandemic continues.
Photo Courtesy of WPU Facebook