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Mecklenburg County mask mandate in effect for two months but when will it end?

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 5:38 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - It’s been nearly two months since the mask mandate was re-established in Mecklenburg County, requiring masks in all indoor spaces.

County leaders pushed for the mandate when the Delta variant was surging but now that the case numbers are starting to drop, when will county leaders adjust the mask mandate?

Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris says the percent positivity rate needs to be 5% or lower for 30 days straight for the mask mandate to end. As of October 6th, which is the latest public data for the county, the percent positivity is at 8.9%.

The good thing is that it’s heading in that direction.

But some business owners and community members are ready to see it end.

“I’m hoping it goes away pretty soon. Everyone’s trusting the science. Science told me to get the shot, I’m like okay. Science told me not to touch people, I don’t touch anybody,” said Blake Barnes, who owns the Common Market in Plaza Midwood. “Now the numbers are coming down, I don’t see the point in keeping it, you know what I mean?”

Blake Barnes has been putting up signs and doing what he can to tell his customers about the mask mandate. But he says the enforcement shouldn’t be on him and his employees.

“It just not our job to be the police. It was just too difficult,” said Barnes. “The second day someone complained and was like ‘oh you know that person doesn’t have a mask?’ and I was like ‘oh why don’t you call the police?’”

But the mask mandate is not over yet according to Mecklenburg County Health Director, Gibbie Harris.

“We are improving our numbers are slowly going in the right direction,” Harris said.

There are fewer cases, hospitalizations, and deaths but Harris says we’re not there yet.

The latest numbers from October 6 show percent positivity is still at 8.9%.

“Once we reach 5% positivity and fall below that for 30 days, we will lift the mask mandate. That is the plan. Of course, that can always change,” she said. “I’d rather us be a vigilant a little while longer before we relax. And hopefully, that will keep us from rebounding. I really don’t want us to see our numbers for back up again.”

Some community members say although they don’t like the masks, they’re okay with doing it for as long as needed.

“I think we’re all over the mask at some point but it’s a small thing we can do to prevent people from dying,” said Chris.

Others want it gone immediately.

“I have so much more respect when you have the choice to do what you want. And if you walk in a store and people are wearing masks. There’s no problem with that. I’m vaccinated, why do I have to do that too,” asked Taylor.

Harris says it’s important to continue wearing the masks, along with more people getting vaccinated, to make sure our numbers are low as we head into peak flu season.

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