Wake County moving forward with mask mandate despite pushback from 5 mayors


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Wake County said it’s moving forward with an indoor mask mandate, despite pushback from five mayors in the county.

Most of the mayors from the 12 municipalities that make up Wake County met over Zoom Friday morning. The county health department went over the latest numbers, the spike in COVID-19 cases, and rise in hospitalizations.

CBS 17 reached out to all 12 mayors to find out where they stood on the issue. The mayors of Apex, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Wake Forest, and Wendell all said they’re opposed to another mandate.

“The bottom line is we support masks, but we don’t want to support mandates,” Holly Springs Mayor Dick Sears said.

“We just want to encourage people to get the vaccine and wear a mask when appropriate,” Apex Mayor Jacques Gilbert said.

Wake County Board of Commissioners Chairman Matt Calabria said the county is still moving forward with a mask mandate. It would apply in municipalities where mayors approve it, like Raleigh, and in unincorporated parts of the county.

“The CDC has shown time and again that mask mandates do drive down infection rates,” Calabria said. “It also provides cover, frankly, for businesses and for establishments that really want to have all their folks masked.”

So, what do business owners make of the plan? Several of them declined to do an interview, saying the issue had become political and that they support it.

The owner of the Rusty Bucket in Apex, Mack Thorpe, had no problem sharing his thoughts.

“If it’s what it takes to control this virus and keep it from spreading, I have no problem with putting a mask back on,” Thorpe said.

He said about a third of his customers are still wearing masks. When they were required, he said the vast majority of them complied.

“We don’t mind asking customers to put a mask on if that’s what’s required,” Thorpe said.

Mayors in Wake County will be meeting again Monday.

Calabria said he’ll be working the phones over the weekend, trying to get more of them on board.

He explained the county is already working on drafting a proposal. The hope is to take it up Tuesday or Wednesday. If that happens, it will take effect by the end of next week.

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