MONDAY MORNING HEADLINES
Starting today, masks will be optional in most Cumberland County government facilities for staff and visitors.
Masks will still be required in the Department of Public Health and the Cumberland County Detention Center.
The new guidelines come as case counts fall and counties across the state loosen masking guidelines. Statewide, the percentage of positive tests is less than 3%, however, it is much higher locally in Cumberland County, about 7.1% over the last 14 days.
LAST WEEK UPDATES
As mask mandates are lifted in school districts, local governments, and many state agencies Monday, an infectious disease expert is urging caution and wishing for masking in classrooms for a bit longer.
Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease expert at UNC said COVID case counts dropping and hospitals emptying out of COVID-19 patients are encouraging signs.
"I think there's a sweet spot though," he said. "There's a lot of wishful thinking and I wish I could say that the science doesn't back up masking in schools -- it does back up masking. We know masks work. We know schools that mask have less community spread."
Wohl said waiting even a couple of more weeks before losing masks inside classrooms would be a more measured approach.
"I don't want to do anything that prevents us from getting where we all want to be," he said. "I don't want to take any chances that we're going to see an Omicron Ba.2 bump like they saw in Denmark. That would just slow us down, that would just make us more frustrated and exhausted so let's just keep going. Let's put our pedal to the metal. We're almost there."
As for those who do still chose to wear a mask indoors, Wohl said wearing something is better than nothing when everyone around you is without a mask.
-- ABC11's Andrea Blanford reported.