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Coronavirus Information Report

Gov. Roy Cooper removes his mask to begin a briefing on North CarolinaÕs coronavirus pandemic response Monday, Jun. 15, 2020, at the NC Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, N.C.

As coronavirus (COVID-19) numbers continue to rise rapidly around the state of North Carolina, and the country, Gov. Roy Cooper announced that the state will be enhancing the statewide NC mask mandate already in effect.

“Our statewide mask requirement has been in effect since June and it is still our best weapon in this fight,” Cooper said. “Today’s executive order will further tighten that mandate, making it clear that everyone needs to wear a mask whenever you are with someone you don’t live with.”

Cooper said the order will also do more to ensure businesses are enforcing mask requirements for staff and customers, and limiting the number of people in the business. It also increased some of the enforcement mechanisms on the 10-person indoor gathering limits. The enhancements to the order allow for state and local officials to put more enforcement tools in place.

“I know it’s been a long 9 months of virtual church, holidays, birthdays and more,” Cooper said. “But if we can keep it up just a bit longer, we can ensure that more loved ones make it to next year’s Thanksgiving table.”

The NC mask mandate order is extended through December 11. It comes as North Carolina has experienced multiple days recently of record highs of cases statewide. The hospitalization rates are also increasing statewide, which is the more problematic area.

The state also announced that 20 counties statewide have moved into the critical level on its new county alert system map. That’s an increase of 10 counties since last week’s numbers. An additional 42 counties, including Cumberland County are in the orange “substantial spread” zone.

“This week you’ll see that 10 more counties have been designated as red, indicating critically high levels of community spread,” Cooper said. “We now have 20 red counties and 42 orange counties. This is deadly serious.”

There is not a change in the phase level for the state at this time, Cooper said. But he said the next seven to 14 days will be critical in determining if a dial back to stricter phases will be necessary.

Alexis Zarycki is your average girl with the hopes of leaving an everlasting impact on the world. Follow her on Instagram @official_lexpaige