CHARLOTTE – Announced July 7, 2020, strict mask requirements are in effect for all of Mecklenburg County. Masks are now required to be worn inside all buildings and facilities that are owned or leased by Mecklenburg County, Charlotte, or Matthews. Masks are also mandated when people cannot social distance in outdoor settings including in county-owned parks. This proclamation was passed unanimously, is effective immediately, and helps reinforce NC Governor Cooper’s statewide face mask mandate.
The biggest takeaway is the “3 W’s:” Wear a face covering, Wait six feet apart, and Wash your hands often. Science has consistently found that these three things will dramatically reduce the chance that you will unknowingly spread the virus and help prevent you from contracting the virus. Face masks don’t need to be commercially produced to be effective. Homemade masks have been scientifically proven to be an effective barrier to slow the transmission of the disease. Bill Nye the Science Guy has a fun experiment that you can try with your family at home to prove the effectiveness of masks. Watch an interview with Bill Nye that explains the details at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqG0BgOT4fk. PBS also has a wonderful video that explores airflow and masks at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Tp0zB904Mc.
Another important factor is the type of mask you use. Many people say that masks are uncomfortable or they can’t breathe well with them. Luckily, there are now many different types of masks that you can choose from. Pinterest has exploded with DIY masks that require sewing and non-sewing, filters and no-filters, and many others. Target, Old Navy, and other major retailers have also started selling a variety of cloth masks with different patterns. If your current mask isn’t working for you, keep searching until you find one that does. Face Shields have also become popular, but current medical advice states that you should continue to use a cloth mask in addition to using a face shield. Also, N95 masks should only be used by medical professionals as it is necessary Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), and there have been shortages of these types of masks for healthcare providers who are dealing with confirmed COVID-19 cases.
This pandemic has been rife with misinformation about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. When searching online for information (for any information, not just information related to COVID-19), it is vitally important to check different sources for the same information and visit trusted websites. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a page dedicated to COVID-19 with information from leading scientists and has up-to-date information including the latest confirmed cases, deaths, and the latest scientific advice on how to protect yourself from COVID-19. See https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. Mecklenburg County also has an official COVID-19 page at https://www.mecknc.gov/COVID-19/Pages/Home.aspx with information specific to Mecklenburg County. The NC Government also has a page dedicated to COVID-19 at https://www.nc.gov/covid19 with up-to-date information on schools, reopening phases, and help with food, mental health, and testing sites.