RALEIGH – The current prevalence of face masks is something we couldn’t have foreseen in 2019. Since the outbreak and evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant heavy-handed mitigation policies, face masks have thus far remained mostly voluntary across the state, save counties like Orange and Durham. That could change, according to Governor Roy Cooper, as rising numbers spark his and state health officials’ urge to do something.
Cooper said in a press conference Monday that requiring face masks in public is “absolutely in discussion.” It’s a conversation reportedly happening in more local jurisdictions as well.
“[…] “We want people to voluntarily to do this, but we are looking at additional rules to potentially make these mandatory,” Cooper said at a news conference.
Wake County commissioners discussed a mask requirement during their Monday afternoon meeting. Chairman Greg Ford said logistics, enforcement and getting all 15 mayors in the county on board are the main concerns that need to be addressed.
“It goes beyond being a personal responsibility thing,” Ford said. “It is a public courtesy, in my opinion.” […]”
Cooper’s comments follow a pattern from earlier progressions of lockdown measures. He ‘strongly urges’ the practice, some noncompliance inevitably sticks out, and then in indignant frustration he issues an edict to enforce his unilateral will.
With masks, the disparity between those that wear them and those that don’t is a clearand obvious distinction. For many, it also denotes a division in how they’re approaching the Pandemic Panic. A woman was shouted out of a grocery store on Long Island, New York for daring to enter without a mask. There exists in some a sanctimonious resentment of those not wearing masks, not being fearful enough.
North Carolina is not New York, notwithstanding Cooper’s penchant for glitzy cocktail fundraisers in the Big Apple, and any mask requirement here will have contrasting adoption rates between places like Wake County and places like Bertie County.
In Wake County, the Pandemic Panic has confused the commissioners into thinking it is their job to enforce courtesy among county residents. The mayor of Raleigh was “appalled” to see people patronizing restaurants in her city, without face masks, and is now arguing to make masks mandatory as a public safety issue.
This is the same mayor that twiddled her thumbs for 48 hours while her city center suffered unprecedented riots and destruction, business owners left out to dry as their windows smashed and stores looted. But by all means, forcing people to wear more masks is the pressing public safety issue that animates Mayor Mary Ann Baldwin’s sense of authority.
Hopefully, Governor Cooper’s sense that the economy cannot absorb, and that the people just won’t take an aggressive RE-lockdown of their lives, informs his thinking on mandating masks. He remains open, fortunately, to moving on to Phase 3 of his painfully slow and top-down reopening plan. That decisions will come sometime next week.