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As statewide mask requirement takes effect, Durham believes its own has worked

Posted June 26, 2020 1:20 p.m. EDT
Updated June 26, 2020 6:41 p.m. EDT

— Durham county and city officials believe that the county-wide mask mandate that went into effect there on April 20 has proven effective at limiting transmission of the virus.

Mayor Steve Schewel said Friday that he is proud that Durham was out in front of the concept, and he is glad that Gov. Roy Cooper has decided to follow suit and implement an order at the statewide level.

Officials believe that compliance with the order has been pretty good, but despite the order, Durham has dealt with a large number of cases of COVID-19.

According to WRAL data, Durham County has had 3,479 confirmed positive coronavirus tests, or about 107 cases per 10,000 residents. The portion of the county's population that is known to have been infected sits at 1.11 percent.

"Our Latinx cases continue to be our most important concern," Schewel said.

What is not known is how much worse off the county could be if the order had not been put into effect or if compliance had been lower.

"One of the things that we feel will be coming up in, next week, when we do an amended order is requiring a sign on businesses that will let people know about the mandate for face coverings," Schewel said of how he hopes to increase compliance.​

Now, with the statewide order in effect, officials are hoping to see the same results that officials in Durham belive they have achieved.

Dr. Melissa Burnside, who just moved to Durham to work at Duke Hospital from New York City, said she hopes people do what's necessary to help slow the spread.

"Coming from new York, where we had a surge before other states and cities, and being at the front line of that, and recognizing what I fear may be coming to other cities, I think it’s important to see people wearing their masks, social distancing, practicing hand washing."

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