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The original item was published from 2/17/2022 11:39:27 AM to 7/1/2022 12:00:00 AM.

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Marketing & Communications

Posted on: February 17, 2022

[ARCHIVED] Joines To Lift Citywide Mask Requirement

Mayor Allen Joines announced today that he will lift the citywide mask mandate at the end of this month.

“In consultation with Dr. Christopher Ohl of Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and Joshua Swift, the Forsyth County public health director, I plan to lift the mandatory mask mandate effective March 1,” Joines said. 

“This decision is based on several factors that convinced me the mandate can be safely lifted,” Joines said, among them, the falling number of omicron-related cases and the fact that the impact on the community of the omicron variant is somewhat diminished compared with the delta variant. Joines also noted that the respiratory virus season will be winding down shortly and with the approach of warmer weather, people will be able to be spend more time outside.

Ohl said, “Rescinding mask mandates when COVID case numbers allow is an important stepping-stone to an endemic rather than pandemic approach to COVID. Rather than masking an entire community, the emphasis for wearing a mask is shifted for those who are more vulnerable, including those who are unvaccinated. N95 masks are now in good supply and provide an individual fantastic protection from respiratory viruses including COVID, even when others are unmasked.”

While a community mask mandate is no longer needed, Ohl said that until COVID case numbers further decrease, masking indoors remains a good idea in crowds or when personal distancing is not possible. This is especially true for individuals over the age of 75 and for those who are immunocompromised or have underlying health conditions. Those who desire to further protect themselves from COVID should wear a mask, preferably an N-95 or KN-95, as they deem appropriate.          Per federal law, masks will still be required on public transportation including city buses.  Additionally, Joines said, businesses, churches and other organizations may make their own requirements as to masks or other COVID-related requirements.

Entry to health care facilities where patient care is provided will still require masking in order to protect the health of staff and other patients.

“Speaking for Dr. Ohl and Director Swift, we are grateful to our citizens for adhering to the mandate and their compliance has done much to impact the lower number of cases and hospitalizations,” Joines said. “Of course, it should be noted that in the future should there be other variants that cause large spikes in cases, reinstating the mandate is always a possibility.”

Joines said that later this month he will make his decision official by issuing a 13th amendment to the State of Emergency declaration he initially issued March 13, 2020.

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