The town of Boone in the North Carolina mountains declared a COVID state of emergency on Friday night amid rising cases among the unvaccinated due to the delta variant, officials said.
Effective 5 p.m. Tuesday, ages 2 and older must mask up in all indoor public settings, according to Mayor Rennie Brantz’s declaration. The Town Council voted to reenact the state of emergency first imposed during the pandemic last year.
“Watauga County’s and North Carolina’s daily case counts and hospitalizations for COVID-19 are quickly increasing due to the Delta Variant, which spreads at least twice as easily as previous variants,” according to the declaration.
The county “is considered to have ‘substantial transmission’” of the virus, more cases than such nearby counties as Ashe, Wilkes and Burke, which have “high transmission” counts of COVID-19, Brantz wrote in the declaration.
Compounding the concern: Students return Aug. 16 for the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year at Appalachian State University in Boone, according to the declaration.
The council said on Facebook that the Boone Police Department “will continue to assist private businesses and private business owners if they choose to enforce social distancing standards and other more restrictive COVID-19 preventative measures.”
Also Friday, Buncombe County in the mountains mandated that its employees wear masks and that unvaccinated staff test weekly for COVID-19, the (Asheville) Citizen Times reported.
A day earlier, Asheville City Council decided to return to all-virtual meetings, according to the newspaper. Asheville is in Buncombe County.
On Saturday, Durham County and the City of Durham declared a state of emergency that will take effect at 5 p.m. Monday and require people to wear masks in all indoor public places, not just government buildings, The News & Observer reported.