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ReopenNC founder promotes 'Burn Your Mask' challenge

As public officials consider making masks in public spaces mandatory, Ashley Smith, cofounder and CEO of ReopenNC, is promoting a "Burn Your Masks" challenge.

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Ashley Smith, co-founder of ReopenNC, promotes 'Burn Your Mask' challenge
Jessica Patrick
, WRAL multiplatform producer
As public officials consider making masks in public spaces mandatory, Ashley Smith, co-founder of ReopenNC, is promoting a concerning "Burn Your Masks" challenge.

Smith posted a video on the ReopenNC Facebook page explaining her opinions.

"As you know, we are a group that is completely against mandatory anything," she said. "We are for personal liberty and the constitution and personal freedom."

Smith, holding a blue medical mask, the kind used by many workers in healthcare settings, read the description on its packaging, which cautions users, "When properly worn ... the mask reduces potential contact by the wearer to fluids but does not eliminate the risk of contracting any virus, disease or infection."

"This does not prevent the spread of COVID," Smith addressed viewers in the video. "This is not a sign of your compassion or how much you care for another human being. This is a sign of control."

Smith then proceeds to light the mask on fire and burn it in a frying pan.

The challenge is sure to offend medical workers and health officials who depend on masks and other PPE to limit the spread of COVID-19. Less than two months ago, mask shortages were a problem in many healthcare settings, forcing desperate health workers to wash and re-wear masks or seek out replacements.

Some groups still have limited access to masks, and burning perfectly good PPE is concerning to many.

The CDC and the NCDHHS both encourage people to wear masks or cloth face coverings in situations where social distancing is difficult. Numerous studies show coronavirus spreads mainly via airborne transmission, and wearing a mask is the most effective way to stop person-to person spread.

Gov. Roy Cooper said Monday that requiring people to wear masks in public to limit the spread of the virus is "absolutely in discussion," and Wake County commissioners also are considering such a mandate.

The Raleigh City Council plans to vote Tuesday on a measure to require masks.

Masks are already a requirement in Durham and Orange counties.


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