Health leaders say education, following rules is key to mask enforcement

Coronavirus

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Local leaders say the key to Gov. Roy Cooper’s new mask mandate is education.

People are now required to wear masks in all public places, including in gyms and restaurants.

“I do see a high percentage of folks wearing masks, but we need to do a little bit better,” Pitt County Health Director John Silvernail said.

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Public health experts believe masks are one of the best weapons against COVID-19.

“If we think of ourselves as the fuel for this fire, if we can keep that fire from spreading fuel to fuel, then we can keep that fire at a manageable level,” said Silvernail.

Now, it comes down to enforcement. If you’re not wearing a mask in a public place, state officials say you could get a ticket. Some law enforcement across eastern North Carolina have been on record since June saying they can’t or won’t enforce a mask mandate.

Under the new order, Greenville police are focusing on education first. Voluntary compliance is their priority. County health workers are helping with that education, sending letters to businesses that violate the mask mandate.

“We’re never going to get through this if we don’t all participate,” said Silvernail. “Wear your masks, stay away from people when you can, wash your hands often.”

Silvernail believes the mask mandate is a good thing, but doesn’t want to push people too far.

“If we push much harder, then the public is going to push back, and sometimes with Americans, the more you tell them not to do something, or to do something, the less they tend to want to do it,” said Silvernail.

WNCT reached out to some of the sheriff’s offices who said they would not support a mask mandate back in June. We have not heard back.

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