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Mecklenburg County health officials weigh in on possible return of masks as new COVID-19 cases are on the rise

For the first time since May, Mecklenburg County is seeing new COVID-19 case counts top 100 per day, according to the latest available data.

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — For the second straight day, the number of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina has topped more than a thousand.

There were 995 cases reported Wednesday in North Carolina, 1,020 cases Thursday, and 1,023 cases Friday.

North Carolina hasn’t seen case counts this high since May. The spike in cases is also happening across the country.

Similar increases are causing some areas across the country to reinstate mask requirements. Officials in Los Angeles County, California announced it will once again require masks indoors for all people regardless of vaccination status.

RELATED: As delta variant spreads, here's what health officials have to say about vaccinated people wearing masks

The latest Mecklenburg County COVID-19 data shows new cases trending upward again.

Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said in a news conference Friday that even though cases are on the rise, she’s not ready to tell everyone to mask up again.

"I don't think we're there yet,” Harris said. “I know that there's not an appetite in our community for that. Unfortunately, we are seeing as we mentioned our cases go up, and we want to encourage people to get vaccinated."

However, if trends continue to worsen, Harris said masks could still be an option.

"If you get vaccinated, it's less of an issue, for you and for the community,” said Harris. “So, we're going to continue to push that. It would be, you know, things would have to change quite a bit probably before we ever think about any more restrictions, but we never say never."

The spike in cases comes as several local school districts make masks optional for the upcoming school year.

RELATED: South Carolina schools can't require masks on school buses

A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools spokesperson said in a statement, “Many restrictions in place during much of the pandemic have been eased over the past several weeks, and indications are further rollbacks are likely prior to the start of the 2021-2022 school year. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will follow the directions of state government and health officials regarding masks in schools."

Harris said she is supportive of the CDC guidance, which requires children and teachers in school who are not fully vaccinated to wear a mask.

“The reality is, especially in our elementary schools, is none of those children have had the opportunity to be vaccinated unless of course, they’ve been part of a study,” Harris said. “We continue to recommend the masking in the school setting, especially for individuals who have not been fully vaccinated.” 

Contact Kendall Morris at kmorris2@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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