NC Nurses Association Encourages the Wearing of Face Coverings

Grocery store cashier receiving a credit card from a customer.

The North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA) is strongly encouraging people to wear face coverings in public whenever possible, while continuing to practice social distancing and appropriate hand hygiene.

The association is asking the public to voluntarily help control the spread of coronavirus by wearing face coverings in public indoor settings, and outdoor settings where social distancing is difficult or impossible.

North Carolina’s initial stay-at-home order was a successful early response to the pandemic. Our state managed to stave off some of the worst outcomes by “flattening the curve” at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. However, the number of cases continues to rise, even as more segments our economy are reopening.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, more people are being hospitalized with COVID-19 now than ever before. Graphic courtesy of NCNA.

“We did a great job of keeping the caseload manageable at first, and that saved a lot of lives. But we cannot simply say ‘job well done’ and expect things to go back to normal,” said NCNA President Dennis Taylor, DNP, ACNP-BC. “As more people venture out to restaurants and other businesses, it is imperative that they do so in the safest way possible. If we don’t normalize mask-wearing now, it will be that much harder to encourage people to do it later if necessary.”

The cornerstone of quality healthcare is evidence-based practice and the evidence clearly indicates face coverings can and will allow North Carolina to manage the pandemic more efficiently. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends cloth face coverings to prevent community- based transmission, and multiple recent studies have demonstrated the benefits of masks along with other social distancing practices.

In April, NCNA announced it could endorse a staged reduction in social distancing under certain conditions. At this point, however, the goals that NCNA hoped to see have not yet been achieved. Additionally, some of the projections for North Carolina in the coming weeks are alarming.

State-level CDC forecasts show the cumulative COVID-19 deaths in North Carolina continuing to rise at a steady pace in the coming months. Graphic courtesy of NCNA.

“North Carolina may be making progress, but we still have a long way to go and COVID-19 is going to be a threat to the health and well-being of everyone in the state for a long time,” said NCNA President- Elect Meka Douthit EL, DNP, RN, NE-BC. “We clearly do not have the pandemic under control quite yet, and the benefits of face coverings far outweigh the public health risks of going without.”