Mask mandates are set to start in Cary and Charlotte on Wednesday, joining Raleigh in requiring face masks indoors.

Many of the state’s most populous counties, including Wake, Mecklenburg and New Hanover, are in the process of instituting emergency orders to require masks indoors. Durham and Orange counties already have mask orders in place as students begin to arrive at universities.


What You Need to Know 

As COVID-19 cases spike, more North Carolina counties and cities are requiring indoor mask mandates 

Some of the state's most populas counties are adding them, while others already have them 

COVID-19 cases have been surging with more than 2,800 new ones Tuesday 


The governor’s statewide mask mandate expired last month, but coronavirus cases are spiking again. As of Tuesday, more than 2,800 people are in the hospital with COVID-19. That number continues to increase with hospital beds filling up, like they did during the winter spike in virus cases.

“We are on track to have almost ten times the number of cases this month as we did just two months ago,” New Hanover County Public Health Director David Howard said. “And even more troubling is the number of people who are hospitalized with COVID-19. The cases are overwhelming our health system – with our hospital surpassing record numbers of COVID-19 patients since the pandemic began, their staff once again is stretched to their limits.”

“The rapid rise in hospitalizations must be slowed. Five more of our neighbors died last week, and all were unvaccinated individuals. Please stop and think about that, and do what’s necessary to prevent this virus from impacting you, your family, and our community – this means masking now, distancing now, and vaccinating now,” Howard said.

New Hanover County voted to approve a health rule Tuesday, which requires a 10-day public comment period before it can go into effect. In the meantime, the county’s public health director issued an “order of abatement” that will require masks in public buildings until the health rule can go into effect.

Other big counties in the state have followed a similar path. Mecklenburg and Wake counties are considering public health rules to require masks.

Raleigh’s mayor issued an emergency order last week to require masks in city limits. Neighboring Cary also announced a mask mandate to begin Wednesday.

Charlotte’s mayor is also expected to sign a mask mandate order to begin Wednesday.

“I support their approach to create a county-wide mask mandate, which would create a consistent policy across Mecklenburg County and reduce confusion among our residents. The soonest this could go into effect would be 12 days from today,” Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said Monday.

“I am instituting a mask mandate that will go into effect on Wednesday, August 18 and will bridge the gap between Wednesday and when a county-wide mandate could go into effect,” she said.

Durham, Orange and Guilford counties already have mask orders in place, along with the Town of Boone.