Some colleges and a big city bring back indoor mask mandates; Is NC next?

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- On Moore Square in Raleigh on Monday night, residents weighed in on a question that could become reality; What if the mask mandates returned here, too?

"I honestly wouldn't mind," said Passion Hunter, a senior at Broughton High School. "People are still coming to school with COVID and there's no mask mandate. So you're in school with COVID and no mask, and anybody can get it. So, I wouldn't mind if they put the mandate back in place."

Nadia Djukic added, "I don't think I would have a problem with wearing a mask. I'd prefer not to."

"Hayes," a graduate student in Durham said, "I go to Duke. They make the rules. I don't argue. They tell me to put on a mask. I do. They tell me to get vaccinated. I do."

Some colleges in the Northeast, including Columbia, Georgetown and Johns Hopkins are reinstating indoor mask mandates. On Monday, Philadelphia became the first major American city to announce it is bringing back its requirement.

The moves are a response to an uptick in COVID-19 case counts fueled by the highly-transmissible Omicron subvariant, BA.2.

"I think Philadelphia is being smart and being proactive rather than reactive," said UNC infectious disease doctor David Wohl. He told ABC11 that the new dynamic of the COVID fight is no longer how many cases but the consequences of the cases -- the strain on hospitals and healthcare workers.

"If we all just got sniffles from COVID-19, we wouldn't be talking about this," Wohl said. "The problem is that there's a substantial proportion of people who get very, very sick, and those people end up on life support."

Should North Carolinians anticipate mask mandates again?

"I hope that everyone like me looks at the data and makes personal decisions that are wise and not emotional," Wohl said. "You don't need a dashboard from our state government to tell us that there's more at COVID-19 this week now than there was last week."

In Wake County, COVID testing is up this month with over 8,400 tests conducted, so far, in April.

It's a slight increase that the county suspects may be related to more people getting tested ahead of spring break travel.
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