Community Response to Governor Cooper's Mask Briefing

Posted By: Emma Faulkner Chamber News ,

   

Earlier today, Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kody H. Kinsley provided an update on the state’s COVID-19 metrics and trends. As North Carolina’s COVID-19 metrics continue to move in the right direction and with vaccines widely available, Governor Cooper encouraged schools and local governments to end their mask mandates. Details on his full statement can be found here.

While Governor Cooper has provided this advice to local governments and school systems, no local mask mandates or states of emergency have changed at this time. The Town of Boone Council and Watauga County Board of Education have discussed mask-related policy and potential action steps at recent meetings, but until these two boards vote to make a change to the current mandates, all such policies remain fully enforceable. No special meetings of these boards have been scheduled at this time, but remains an option, should they desire to take action prior to their next board meeting.

As COVID-19 metrics and trends continue to evolve, it is wise as a community that we begin to plan for what a mask-optional environment may look like for all parties involved. The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce appreciates and respects the recent willingness of the Town of Boone Council and Watauga County Board of Education to discuss these matters in a way that keeps the public informed of options and timelines, and continue to urge both bodies to communicate their thoughts on a exit strategy from these medically-driven mandates.

It’s important to note that treatment options have vastly improved within our community compared to where we were in the Spring of 2020, when mask mandates, size limits on gatherings, and other social distancing policies were the norm throughout the World. Vaccines were never meant to prevent people from contracting COVID-19, but rather providing hope for lessened symptoms and a lesser strain on our local healthcare system.

Please remember, should these local mandates be lifted, it remains the legal right of businesses to require masks to enter their premises, should they choose that requirement. Once mandates are lifted, it will be important to keep a mask with you, and be prepared to use it, should you desire to interact with a business that requires you to wear one while inside their premises.

There are many individuals that have chosen not to receive vaccine, which is their choice and should be respected. It also remains the right of any individual to wear a mask in a public space, should they choose to do so, and that decision should be respected as well. We continue to thank local employers, health care officials, and other resource agents for making sound, information available to people as they consider these decisions for themselves and their families and encourage those thinking about these options to refer to information from trusted professional sources.

We all have been dealing with the COVID-19 realities that impact the physical health, mental health, and financial health of our community for nearly two full years. We are beyond tired. The impacts of this pandemic are not over, and we will continue to see occasional surges and new variants as time goes forward. As science continues to bring us more treatment options, we can work together to function as a community in a safe and responsible way.

Please read a statement sent by Jennifer Greene, AppHealthCare CEO and Director of Public Health, following Governor Cooper’s comments.

Please read a statement issued by Dr. Scott Elliott, Superintendent of Watauga County Schools, sent to families following Governor Cooper’s comments.

Thanks for taking the time to consider these points and for all you are doing daily to Keep Boone Healthy.

David Jackson

President/CEO

Boone Area Chamber of Commerce