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The Daily Tar Heel

Carrboro Town Council votes to recommend wearing facial coverings in public

A man with a face mask runs his dog alongside Lake Michigan in Evanston, IL on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. Despite numerous public health announcements, none of the other members of the public are wearing facial masks or any other forms of personal protective equipment.

The Carrboro Town Council passed a resolution at its May 5 meeting recommending that citizens wear a mask or other facial covering when they are in public and unable to maintain a 6-foot distance between themselves and others. 

The Town Council has provided exceptions from the recommendation for children under the age of 5, and people who cannot medically tolerate a facial covering over their nose and mouth. 

The resolution also states that it is especially important for people to wear facial coverings or masks when using public transportation.

Town Council member Randee Haven-O'Donnell, who wrote the resolution, said she believes it is important to keep Carrboro residents safe. 

“One of the things they have found (is) that the particular size of the COVID aerosol is so small that it can stay suspended in the air for up to three hours,” Haven-O'Donnell said. “So it makes perfect sense for us to be aware of that and thoughtful of the fact that if it can hang in the air for that long, and if you’re going into a confined space it certainly makes sense to be covered."

The resolution states that the Town Council is recommending everyone wear masks out of concern for the well-being of its citizens. 

“We hope to limit the spread and mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 disease, save lives, promote and ensure the health and safety of our town and county residents, public service employees, transit operators, and businesses,” the resolution states.

Haven-O'Donnell said she hopes people will follow the recommendation out of a sense of civic duty. 

“If I wear my mask, that is protecting somebody else from me. But if the other person is not wearing a mask, if they’re less than 6 feet away, then I’m not protected,” Haven-O’Donnell said. 

Council member Damon Seils said he thought it was important to make the wording of the resolution reflect a recommendation as opposed to instead of a requirement or a mandate.

“Getting this report from the health director that she is saying that sticking with the recommendation from the CDC is sufficient, and she is not seeing that moving to a mandatory facial covering order is necessary — that’s important to me, to make sure we aren’t recommending or requiring something that emergency health professionals are not saying is needed,” Seils said. 

In addition to its role as a recommendation for citizens to wear masks, council members said the resolution serves as a promise that the town will promote education surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and facial coverings. 

Members of the council, including Barbara Foushee, said it would be important going forward to take measures to keep residents safe and healthy, especially with the uncertainty surrounding the virus. 

“I understand the concern, since there’s just so much we don’t know about the novel coronavirus,” she said. 

@DTHCityState |

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