Those who refuse to wear face coverings despite pleas from health officials, the president of the American Medical Association, infectious disease experts at North Carolina hospitals, etc., will now have to say 'no' to another group if they choose to ignore the advice.
The Lincoln County Board of COmmissioners and the County Board of Health issued a joint statement Friday afternoon reminding everyone "to please continue to use common sense precautions and maintain the practice of wearing a cloth face covering when in public, especially where social distancing cannot be achieved." The news release continues by advising people to "cover your sneezes and coughs, frequently wash your hands with soap and water or use an appropriate hand sanitizer, maintain a social distance of at least six feet when feasible, and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your home and place of work." The joint statement was signed by Commission chair Carrol Mitchem and Ginger Lusk, chair of the Board of Health.
CLICK HERE to read the entire statement.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to worsen in our area, the Lincoln County public libraries announced Thursday (June 18th) that they would be closed pending further notice. No details were provided, but on the County website came the announcement: "All library branch services are suspended until further notice while County and Library administration review policies and procedures concerning COVID-19."
Lincoln County's number of active cases has increased by eight since Wednesday. As of Friday afternoon, the county has 67 active cases, one death, 21 people awaiting test results, and 107 recovered.
Catawba County had 30 new cases reported on Friday bringing the number of active cases there to 295. 238 people have recovered from the disease and 16 died. 15 people remained hospitalized with COVID-19 in Catawba County.
In Gaston County, the active case count grew to 242 on Friday. 436 people there are said to have recovered from the coronavirus and the county has had nine deaths. The county has seen its percentage of tests that are positive increase to 11% in recent days.
Cleveland County has 63 active cases, six of them hospitalized. 125 people there have recovered.
Mecklenburg County has now had nearly 7900 positive tests for COVID-19 and 136 deaths. The percentage of tests that are positive has also swelled to 11% there, and health officials are concerned because of an increase in the number of cases--and deaths--of people who are not among the elderly. While the death rate is far higher among those who are 70+ and have other health problems, some in other age groups are becoming ill from the disease--more than was the case a month or two ago.
North Carolina set another new record for hospitalizations due to COVID-19 on Friday. 871 people were hospitalized with complications due to the disease. The new hospitalization record comes as the state reports at least 1,652 more positive COVID-19 cases and 22 more deaths for a total of 49,840 cases and 1,197 deaths. NCDHHS reports 20% of hospital inpatient beds and 20% of Intensive Care Unit beds are currently available across the state, and 73% of ventilators are available. The numbers of available beds has shrunk thanks to the increased hospitalizations.
Wearing a mask while out and about is no longer voluntary in Raleigh. The city joined Durham & Orange counties in requiring face-coverings in public spaces beginning at 4 PM Friday. One other Wake County town, Knightdale, adopted a mask requirement beginning Sunday. Boone also approved making face-coverings mandatory this week.
All restaurant, personal care, grooming, tattoo and retail employees and staff members must wear face coverings while working, and except for the exceptions established in the declaration, all persons in the City of Raleigh are required to wear a clean face covering any time they are or will be, in contact with other people who are not household members in public or private spaces where it is not possible to maintain social distancing or where recommended social distancing practices are not being followed. These places include, but are not limited to grocery stores, pharmacies, other business locations, parking lots and sidewalks and public transit. For people whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face covering or who cannot wear a face covering because of a medical or behavioral condition, not wearing a mask is acceptable. Children younger than 12 years old are also not required to wear a mask, and neither are restaurant customers while dining. People also don't have to wear a mask while receiving dental care or swimming or while not in the general public but only with members of their own family or from the same household.
While some have urged Governor Roy Cooper to issue a masks-required edict for North Carolina, he has so far rejected the idea as impractical, saying, "we need voluntary cooperation. People need to do it because it has been shown as effective in slowing the spread of the disease and because they care about their own health and about others."
Other states have already implemented a face mask requirement. In Virginia, the public has been required to wear a face mask in public since May 29th. Virginia has shown a decrease in coronavirus cases while North Carolina and many other southern states have seen cases increase.
It's not just in our area or in the South where the disease is spreading. While some of the US states who were hit hard early are now doing much better, the national death toll has continued to climb--now over 121 thousand. The US leads the world in the number of COVID-19 cases with 2.2 million, but other countries are reporting more cases, too. Brazil has now climbed to number two in both the number of cases and deaths with over a million cases and 49 thousand deaths. Russia has reported over a half million cases and eight thousand deaths. India has had less confirmed cases than Russia, but more deaths--13 thousand. The United Kingdom has had over 300 thousand cases and over 13 hundred deaths.
The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday that the coronavirus pandemic is “accelerating” and that more than 150,000 new cases were reported Thursday — the highest single-day number so far. In a media briefing, he said nearly half of the newly reported cases were from the Americas, with significant numbers from South Asia and the Middle East. “We are in a new and dangerous phase,” he said, warning that "while people are understandably fed up with being at home and eager to open up their societies, the virus is still spreading fast and measures like social distancing, mask wearing and hand-washing are still critical.
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