ROCKINGHAM – Richmond Community College will join schools in Richmond County in dropping their mask mandate beginning Thursday, March 3.
“Masks will be optional for students and employees at all of our campuses and locations,” Dr. Dale McInnis, president of the RCC, wrote in an email to students. “For those who still want to wear a mask, you have my full support. Disposable masks will remain available at the receptionist counters.
McInnis cited new CDC guidelines and the county’s declining rate of new COVID-19 cases.
On Tuesday, the Richmond County School Board voted unanimously to end mask mandates for all students. That vote also became effective on Thursday.
Gov. Roy Cooper has urged all local governments, including school boards, to end mask requirements by mid-February. However, Cooper vetoed Senate Bill 173, which would give parents the ability to remove their children from mask mandates. Cooper said the decision on mask policy should be left to local school boards.
“Thank you for the cooperation you have shown over the past two years as we faced the pandemic together,” McInnis concluded.
Local health officials have expressed relief that the numbers are falling, although they argue another rise is possible and that getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent serious illness.
For all FirstHealth of the Carolinas locations in the month of January, there was a positivity rate of 45% compared to 18% for the month of February, and it continues to drop. FirstHealth conducted 30,993 COVID tests in the month of January and only 6,662 in the month of February as of February 27, according to Emily Sloan, director of public relations for FirstHealth.
Sloan said the highest number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized at FirstHealth since the start of the pandemic was 120, which was recorded on January 27, 2022. As of Friday, March 4, there were only 13 positive patients. to COVID hospitalized at FirstHealth facilities. , according to the hospital chain’s website.
Of Richmond County residents over the age of five, 50.1% are now fully immunized.
“The state would like [the vaccination rate] higher but at some point we have to get back to more normal life, especially with cases going down,” said Chief Health Officer Cheryl Speight.
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Contact Matthew Sasser at 910-817-2671 or [email protected]