Cooper again extends North Carolina’s mask mandate

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RALEIGH — Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper issued his first executive order of the pandemic in March 2020, at the time implementing a interminable state of emergency, a move that’s typically reserved for hurricanes and other natural disasters.

On Friday, June 11, Cooper issued yet another order in the long series. His latest move extends the mask mandate for schools, health care facilities, prisons, and on public transportation.

The latest order was set to expire Friday.

Further, the order says its “strongly recommended that all individuals continue to wear Face Coverings in all large indoor seating facilities with a seating capacity of over five thousand (5,000) seats, unless an exception applies.”

Fourteen state governments require people not yet fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to wear face coverings in most indoor public settings, says the AARP, which tracks state COVID rules. The District of Columbia and Puerto Rico also have mask orders.

The order exempts worship services, religious and spiritual gatherings, funeral ceremonies, wedding ceremonies, and activities covered by the First Amendment.

Republicans continue to rail against the governor’s unchecked powers, and the General Assembly is moving several bills designed to limit a governor’s authority, including a provision for approval from the Council of State before implementing an executive order.

Lawsuits to check Cooper’s power are in play, too.

A lawsuit filed this month in Carteret County asks state courts to declare that North Carolina no longer faces an emergency in its response to COVID-19. Such a decision would block Cooper from exercising extra powers he assumed more than a year ago. A similar suit has been filed across the state in Henderson County as well.

Cooper has said the pandemic is unprecedented in scope and that safety measures need to continue to keep North Carolinians safe.

More than 54% of state residents have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and the number of positive COVID tests is the lowest it’s been since before the pandemic. Still, Cooper is promoting the vaccine by enticing reticent residents with cash cards, million-dollar drawings, and academic scholarships.

Show us the science, lawmakers say.

On Tuesday, leaders in the North Carolina House formally asked Cooper to provide the scientific data used to justify continued emergency restrictions. In a letter sent to the governor, House Majority Leader John Bell, R-Wayne, and House Majority Whip Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort, penned a letter asking for the metrics Cooper is using to continue the emergency order the state has been under for 15 months.

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