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Next week, North Carolina will announce what's next for coronavirus reopening

State leaders are considering a statewide requirement for face masks in public while also trying to decide who can and cannot reopen.

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and other state leaders are encouraging the public use of face masks statewide - - but have not yet made it a legal mandate. 

The state set an all-time high Thursday for the number of COVID-19 coronavirus patients hospitalized at 846 patients.

"When we announce next week what becomes of the [Phase 2] order that ends June 26, we hope to be announcing a comprehensive plan to slow the spread of the virus," Cooper said during a COVID-19 coronavirus briefing Thursday in Raleigh.

The governor stopped short of promising a statewide law requiring the masks.

"The mandatory nature of it is being considered and studied," he said.

"There are probably more than a dozen ways you could write a law requiring face masks," Cooper explained. "If you're going to make a law, you have to be careful about what you're doing and be specific."

"You can't just snap your fingers," he added. "You will get better results if you can convince the public's heart-and-soul this is a good thing to do."

There have been 48,188 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in North Carolina with 1,175 deaths. NC DHHS reported 1,333 new cases Thursday, which is an increase from Wednesday's 1,002 new cases. 

Officials have outwardly expressed concerns the numbers are going the wrong way.

"We do not want to go backwards," North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said Thursday when asked if the state may reimpose a "Stay at Home" order. "We can, together, slow the spread of the virus while at the same time boosting our economy."

The governor said they monitor data to decide how to proceed with the reopening phases. 

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said he could not rule out reimposing the 'stay home' order if hospitals become overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.

During the briefing, Dr. Mandy Cohen, the head of North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services, demonstrated the proper way to wear a mask.

Cities such as Boone have imposed local laws making masks required. The mandate goes into effect Saturday.

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After a three week grace period, law enforcement in Boone could start issuing financial penalties for non-compliance.

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