As COVID-19 case counts rise across the state, some local governments are implementing safety measures to help curb the spread of the virus in their communities.

In Guilford County, commissioners approved a countywide mask mandate during an emergency meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Guilford County's current COVID-19 metrics show a spike in infection rates and hospitalizations. That prompted Tuesday's meeting with the full Board of Commissioners. They approved the indoor mask mandate by a vote of 7-2.

It applies to everyone, regardless of vaccination status. But there are some exceptions. For example, children under five and those with medical or behavioral conditions are exempt.

Guilford County Health Director Dr. Iulia Vann says the measure is an important step in the fight against COVID.

“There is a combination between the vaccination and the masking because we know that right now, we don't have enough people who are vaccinated, and that continues the cycle for a host to be available for transmission," says Vann.

Guilford County's mask mandate will go into effect at 5 p.m. on Friday.

The local health department will oversee the enforcement of the measure. A warning will be issued for the first violation. After that, officials say repeated violations could result in civil penalties ranging anywhere from $50 to $1,500.

Guilford County isn't the only North Carolina municipality implementing a mask mandate. The city of Durham and the town of Boone also approved similar measures over the past week.

*Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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