THONWS-05-29-21 MASKS

Protocols for wearing masks at future meetings of Thomasville city council, as well as other city committee meetings, were adjusted earlier this month to mirror federal guidelines.

THOMASVILLE — As vaccinated individuals continue to see guidelines and restrictions lifted, the city of Thomasville is beginning to establish a clearer picture of how meetings will be handled moving forward.

Protocols for wearing masks at future meetings of city council, as well as other city committee meetings, were adjusted earlier this month to mirror federal guidelines. City hall opened back up in the last months for public use, and the CDC announced it was no longer recommending that vaccinated individuals wear masks, so the regular May meeting of council yielded further instruction for staff on how to host future meetings.

Gov. Roy Cooper’s latest executive order removed the preexisting mask mandate from everyone, only suggesting that those who have not been vaccinated continue wearing the masks. Accordingly, council approved that mask wearing be optional at meetings, per CDC guidelines, and that practice of social distancing should continue.

Based on indications she has received at work at Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center, Councilwoman Jane Murphy said she has not seen case numbers completely dissipate.

“I’m not sure we’re completely out of the woods yet,” Murphy cautioned.

Councilman Scott Styers reiterated that the pandemic has been an ongoing source of concern, even this month, but the vaccine has allowed business to resume locally. This is pivotal, he said, in order to ensure optimal function of city government as it seeks to provide services to Thomasville residents.

“I’ve been as cautious as anyone up here. I’ve also been the most vocal that we get back to having council and committee meetings in person,” Styers said.

On May 14, Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen announced the state’s removal of its indoor mask mandate, as well as all mass gathering limits and social distancing requirements.

“We can take this step today because the science shows our focus on getting people vaccinated is working,” said Cooper. “But to keep moving forward — and to make sure that we keep saving lives — more people need to get vaccinated.”

North Carolina continues to focus on distributing vaccines quickly and equitably. As of mid-May, the state had administered more than 7.7 million doses. More than 51%% of individuals 18 and up were at least partially vaccinated, and 46%% of those 18 and up were fully vaccinated.

In accordance with the new CDC guidance, there will still be certain settings where masks and other safety measures will be required. Masks will still be required in child care, schools and camps as most children are either not yet vaccinated or are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.

Everyone, including people who are fully vaccinated will still be required to wear a mask in certain settings such as public transportation, health care settings like hospitals, doctor’s offices and long-term care settings like nursing homes, and certain congregate settings like correctional facilities and homeless shelters.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at kennedy@tvilletimes.com.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at kennedy@tvilletimes.com.