BIZTALK: Talking Masks With Southport's Mayor, Wilmington Chamber Chief

By Cece Nunn, posted Jul 1, 2020

Last week, the state started requiring people, with some exemptions, to wear face coverings in public to help slow the increasing spread of COVID-19.

On Wednesday’s BizTalk , Southport Mayor Joe Pat Hatem, who is also a doctor, discussed why the Brunswick County city enacted its own face covering requirement before the state did and why face coverings might make a difference, while Natalie English, president and CEO of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, talked about the impact on businesses, which could be cited if customers and workers aren’t wearing masks in their establishments.

More about the face covering requirement, including exemptions, can be found on Gov. Roy Cooper's website.

About the state face covering mandate that went into effect June 26, English said, "The challenge for business owners, and particularly small business owners who've been shut down during this pandemic, is that they're now having to police their customers, and the awkward position that puts them in, as well as the cost associated with having PPE available or face masks available for those customers who may come in without them."

The solution? "If we as individuals can take that responsibility and personally commit to wearing the masks, then it eases that burden on business owners," English said.

Hatem, who has a master's degree in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and whose career has included working as a doctor at Dosher Memorial Hospital in Southport, said studies have shown that wearing face coverings or masks is an effective public health measure. 

"So by wearing a mask, if I'm wearing one, I'm protecting the people around me and if they wear one, they're protecting me and they're also protecting the people around them.

"It's based on science. In public health, we have to use science to make policy but also to back up the decisions we've made. And I think there's a good bit of data that shows if you wear a mask, you decrease the transmission of this disease."

See the entire discussion below.
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