After months of carefully monitoring COVID-19 metrics, Wake County Government lifted its mask mandate on Friday, Feb. 25, joined by the City of Raleigh and the towns of Garner, Knightdale, Morrisville, Rolesville and Zebulon. The towns of Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Wake Forest and Wendell no longer had mask mandates in place.
Wake County Public Health officials advised that they felt comfortable with county and municipal leaders rescinding the mask mandates next Friday, a timeline that will give businesses and schools an opportunity to adjust to the change.
“Some employers may need additional time to set new policies for their staff or remove masking signage, and we want to respect that,” said Chair of the Wake County Board of Commissioners Sig Hutchinson after speaking to municipal mayors. “We initially put this mandate in place to weather the worst of the COVID-19 storm, which we hope is now behind us.”
The Omicron variant demonstrated that public health departments should consider not just case counts but also the severity of the virus. The good news is the death rate and number of hospitalizations in Wake County are down, and the vaccination rate is high.
Currently, 190 people with the virus are hospitalized in Wake County. That’s a nearly 54% decrease from Jan. 30, 2022, when the Omicron surge peaked here. Vaccination rates are also up. Of Wake County residents 12 and older, a remarkable 89% have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. For more analytics, visit wakegov.com/covid19.
“The recent trends are all pointing in the right direction for the mandate to be removed,” said Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin. “Removing the mask requirement gives room for personal choice and responsibility. For those that are health compromised or feel more comfortable wearing a mask, they should feel empowered to do so.”
Masking as a mitigation tool has proven effective in helping minimize transmission. Use of masks should be supported by all who want to use them and are recommended for:
- Those at-risk for severe disease like the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions
- Individuals not up to date on their vaccinations
- Anyone in large indoor gatherings
- Those living or working in high-risk settings like hospitals or nursing homes
- Public transportation and air travel, per federal guidance
Employers are free to maintain mask mandates on their premises and are encouraged to make the choices they believe best fit their circumstances. Some rooms within Wake County Government buildings, such as public health clinics, homeless shelters, detention facilities or courtrooms, may still require employees and visitors to wear masks.