Starting Monday at 5 p.m., all individuals will be required to wear masks indoors, Durham County and city officials announced on Saturday.
Under the new state of emergency, face coverings must be worn in any indoor public place, business or establishment, regardless of one’s vaccination status.
The main reason for the new measure is the recent spike in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to officials. The Delta variant is almost twice as contagious as previous variants of the virus.
In the last month, Durham County’s positive rate of infection doubled from 2.3% to 4.6%. As of Wednesday, North Carolina’s daily positive rate was 10.6%.
“It is unfortunate we are in this situation, but the Delta variant is extremely dangerous. Our local cases have grown exponentially over the last weeks and instituting a mask mandate is once again necessary to contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect yourself and our vulnerable neighbors,” Durham Mayor Steve Schewel said in the state of emergency statement.
Schewel also encouraged Durham residents to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Several other towns and cities in North Carolina have kept or announced similar requirements, including Wake County, Orange County and Raleigh.
Sixty-seven percent of people 12 years or older in Durham County are fully vaccinated as of Friday, while 71% have received at least one dose. Out of all North Carolinians 12 years or older, 55% are fully vaccinated and 59% partially vaccinated, per the state’s vaccine dashboard.
As of July 30, everyone on Duke’s campus is required to wear a mask indoors, except in residence halls.
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Milla Surjadi is a Trinity junior and editor-in-chief of The Chronicle's 118th volume.