New Hanover County to discuss reinstating indoor mask mandate at January meeting

Face mask (Photo: Sydney Bouchelle/WWAY)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Board plans to discuss reinstating an indoor face coverings mandate during its meeting next month.

The board voted Tuesday to revisit the health rule for indoor public places and will hold a public hearing at its regular meeting on Tuesday, January 18, at 8 a.m.

New Hanover County’s percent positivity rate is currently 6.7 percent, and 592 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported over the last 14 days for an average of 42.3 cases per day. This is an increase since before Thanksgiving, when the percent positivity rate was 2.7 percent and there was an average of 14.5 new cases over the last 14 days.

“The Health and Human Services Board is going to discuss COVID-19 metrics and trends, data compared to last year at this time, and other statistical analysis as it relates to where we are in the pandemic after the new year and whether we need to reinstate our face coverings health rule,” Health and Human Services Board Chair Dr. LeShonda Wallace said. “This is a proactive conversation that the board plans to have, given our current increases in case counts and hospitalizations and the rapid spread Omicron, to see where we are and if additional protective measures like face coverings are needed. The Omicron and Delta variants are actively circulating, so we encourage our community to make good choices over the holidays and wear face coverings when in crowded spaces and get tested if you plan to visit family. The more we can do proactively, the better we will all be.”

The board also voted to form a subcommittee to work with staff, including the newly formed Pandemic Operations Team. The county says this will help develop a clear methodology of statistical analysis, including hospital, CDC and NCDHHS data, in order to make a data-informed decision related to the face coverings health rule and other protective measures related to the pandemic.

The January 18 public hearing will be an opportunity for the board to review current data, receive comments from the community, and determine whether the previously implemented health rule that requires face coverings in all indoor public places within New Hanover County should be reinstated.

The meeting will be held in the multipurpose room of the Health and Human Services building, located at 1650 Greenfield Street in Wilmington. In addition, the public may view the meeting live at, and Spectrum Cable channel 13; or listen to the meeting by dialing 415-655-0003 and when prompted for a meeting ID, press 808 594 284, then the pound sign (#).

Comments can be submitted in advance of the January meeting online here through noon on Friday, January 14. The public can also attend the public hearing in person and speak about the proposed rule on January 18 at 8 a.m. Comments must be limited to 3 minutes each and a total of 45 minutes will be allotted for public comments during the hearing, which is in keeping with HHS Board operating procedures.

Categories: Local, New Hanover