WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A Wilmington pulmonologist says any company owner or manager not requiring face masks inside the business is not only violating North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s mask mandate, they are putting lives at risk.
“I think if a business is allowing people in without masks, and not policing it, they should be fined,” says Dr. Brian Legere.
Dr. Legere sees the most critically ill COVID-19 patients. He, along with his partners at Coastal Pulmonary Medicine and other pulmonologists at Wilmington Health are the physicians who go into the ICU units at New Hanover Regional Medical Center and treat gravely ill patients with the coronavirus.
Legere says wearing a mask right now is by far the best way to avoid getting the virus or spreading it. He believes people not wearing masks and not social distancing are the reasons the number of COVID cases is climbing.
“We’ve got more people in the ICU in the past couple weeks than we have all along,” he says.
Businesses can be cited for not requiring customers to wear masks. Under Gov. Cooper’s executive order, all North Carolinians will be on the honor system about whether or not they have a reason they cannot wear a face mask. Business owners and employees have to rely on the customer when it comes to their reason why they’re not wearing a mask.
Law enforcement cannot criminally enforce the mask mandate against individual workers, customers, or patrons. But if a person, employee or customer, refuses to wear a mask and refuses to leave the business, law enforcement can enforce trespassing laws to that person.
LeGere believes anyone who does not wear a mask in public facilities should be cited.
“Maybe there should be a ticket for not wearing a mask outside or in a store,” he says. “Obviously, walking down the street by yourself, sure, don’t wear a mask. But if you’re going to go into a store or a restaurant or a hospital or anywhere else you’ve got to throw a mask on. If you’re going to be around another person, you’ve got to wear a mask.”