NC remains in Phase 2; face coverings required

Pittsboro, NC – On June 24, 2020, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper released Executive Order 147, which extends Phase 2 through July 17 at 5 p.m. citing an increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations due to the virus. The executive order also requires face coverings for those in public places in settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain. In addition, certain businesses must now have employees and customers wear face coverings such as retailers, restaurants, personal care, child care and camps. Exceptions include those who should not wear face coverings due to medical conditions, children under age 11, and individuals exercising outside who are more than six feet apart from others.

photo by Rod Long

The face covering requirements of the order take effect June 26 at 5 p.m. More information about these requirements can be found here. The governor’s executive order comes after a motion earlier this week by the Chatham County Board of Health encouraging residents to wear a face covering in public settings where social distancing cannot be maintained.

As of June 24, more than 900 Chatham County residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, and 42 individuals have died. COVID-19 continues to be a public health crisis, and both the State of North Carolina and Chatham County remain under a state of emergency. Important measures like wearing a face covering are needed to reduce the risk of transmission.

“Wearing a face covering is important when coming into close contact with others, because COVID-19 can be transmitted even before symptoms develop,” said Chatham County Interim Public Health Director Mike Zelek. “Remember, my mask protects you. Your mask protects me. Face coverings are a critical piece in preventing the virus from spreading.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides guidelines on how to properly wear a face covering. Be sure the face covering goes over your nose and mouth at all times when you are near others, fits snugly against the sides of your face, and that you wash your hands before putting it on and taking it off.

The Chatham County Public Health Department has worked with numerous agencies and organizations in Chatham County – including the Chatham Health Alliance, Chatham County Schools, Chatham County Emergency Management and numerous community groups and non-profits – to collect and distribute face coverings for free to community members.

Among these efforts is Masks for Chatham, A Community Drive to Protect Chatham County, which is collecting masks and other personal protective equipment for essential workers on the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 crisis and face coverings and other supplies for vulnerable populations. The Chatham County Public Health Department’s main office (80 East St., Pittsboro) and clinic (1000 South 10th Ave., Siler City) are both drop-off locations, and more can be found here. The effort is being led by the Chatham Health Alliance.

In addition to wearing face coverings, the Chatham County Public Health Department continues to advise residents to maintain social distancing as much as possible and to wash their hands regularly. This is one way we can be #ChathamTogether during the COVID-19 pandemic.