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With COVID metrics trending in ‘positive direction,’ NHC health officials will consider lifting mask mandate at Nov. 12 meeting

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 10:52 AM EDT
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County health officials will consider lifting the countywide mask mandate as COVID-19 related metrics continue to trend in a positive direction, including the percent positivity rate that has fallen below 5 percent for the first time since late July.

The county’s Health and Human Services Board voted earlier this week to hold a special meeting to “consider action” on the health rule that requires face coverings in all indoor public places within New Hanover County.

That meeting is set for Friday, Nov. 12 at 8 a.m. Public comments will be heard along with a review of community-wide COVID data. The board will then vote on keeping or lifting the rule, which has been in effect since August.

“The board made a commitment to revisit the health rule when we got to a five percent positivity rate in the county and we have reached that mark, so it is reasonable for us to consider this soon and determine how we move forward,” said Health and Human Service Board Chair LeShonda Wallace. “We have to ensure our COVID-19 metrics are remaining steady and hopefully decreasing in case rates and percent positivity over several weeks. We have only recently reached some of those goals, so we want to analyze that in the coming weeks, and ensure this positive data is sustainable. We will discuss this as a board at our special meeting and hear from the public as well, to determine how we move forward.”

The special meeting will be held in the multipurpose room of the Health and Human Services building, located at 1650 Greenfield Street in Wilmington. In addition, the public may view the meeting live at NHCTV.com, youtube.com/NewHanoverCo and Spectrum Cable channel 13; or listen to the meeting by dialing 415-655-0003 and when prompted for a meeting ID, press 808 594 284, then the pound sign (#).

Public comments for the Health and Human Services Board can be submitted here through noon on Monday, Nov. 8. All comments received through the online form will be submitted into the record during the special meeting.

The public can also attend the special meeting in person and speak about the health rule. Comments must be limited to three minutes each; and a total of 15 minutes will be allotted for public comments during the meeting.

COVID-19 metrics improving

The Health and Human Services Board said it will consider numerous metrics, including having a sustained rate of 100 or fewer new cases of COVID-19 per day, a sustained percent positivity rate of 5 percent or lower, and reduced hospitalizations to ensure there is no burden the local healthcare system.

As of October 20, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), there is an average of around 32 new cases per day over the past 14-days; and the percent positivity rate for the past 14 days is 4.8 percent, which continues a downward trend from the five percent reported last week and 6.1 percent for the week prior. In addition, according to NHRMC, there is an average of 25 patients hospitalized for COVID, which is a decrease from 32 last week.

“We’re certainly pleased to see our COVID-related metrics continuing to decline in a positive direction,” said Health and Human Services Director Donna Fayko. “The commitment our community has taken in using preventative measures, like masks, and to get vaccinated are working to slow the spread of COVID-19 in New Hanover County. We encourage everyone to remain diligent and help these metrics continue to fall.”

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