Gov. Cooper extends mask mandate for schools, at-risk settings

Gov. Roy Cooper during COVID-19 briefing April 21, 2021. [courtesy PBS North Carolina]

Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday signed an executive order to extend a variety of measures currently in place to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including extending a mask mandate for schools, health care and childcare facilities and public transportation.

“We are seeing tremendous improvement with fewer cases, hospitalizations, deaths and safety restrictions, but this is no time to hang up a “Mission Accomplished” banner in our fight against the pandemic,” Cooper said. “We are laser focused on getting more shots in arms, boosting our economy and protecting unvaccinated people from the virus and this Executive Order is essential for those efforts.”

While Cooper has eased restrictions as trends have improved, a State of Emergency remains now remains in effect as North Carolina emerges from the pandemic, along with measures including:

  • State evictions prohibitions
  • Face covering requirements in certain settings such as public transportation, schools, health care and childcare facilities, in accordance with CDC guidance
  • Unemployment Insurance flexibility

Under the State of Emergency, North Carolina has easier access to federal funding including FEMA Public Assistance reimbursements, and schools can follow uniform safety guidance under the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit.

The State of Emergency also allows critical regulatory flexibility for the NC Department of Health and Human Services to increase the number of people authorized to administer vaccines and COVID-19 tests and for the movement of COVID-19 patients in rehab and other facilities.

Under the State of Emergency, NC DHHS continues to allow temporary additional flexibility for tele-health opportunities and for out-of-state licensed workers to practice in North Carolina and for retired health care professionals, students in training and skilled volunteers to provide care. The Department also continues to allow expanded access to healthcare and Medicaid services and food and nutrition programs until the end of the State of Emergency.

The state’s vaccination efforts and incentive programs are also organized using tools made available by the State of Emergency including the million dollar summer cash and college tuition drawings the will incentivize people to get their shots.

Vaccinated N.C. residents can win $1 million cash, students $125K scholarships