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Officials see pushback as more states, counties require people to wear masks

After Gov. Roy Cooper issued a mandatory mask requirement across North Carolina on Wednesday amid rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state, several sheriffs publicly said they would not enforce the mandate when it goes into effect on Friday.

The sheriff of Sampson County said the rule is “not only unconstitutional, but unenforceable.” The sheriff of Iredell County echoed that sentiment.

The Burke County Sheriff’s Office said it “will not be enforcing violations of the order.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends face coverings, along with social distancing and handwashing, to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

As states continue to loosen restrictions, facial coverings have become a common requirement for employees, customers, or both. In almost every state, masks are required to some degree, as reflected by the movement #Masks4All.

This week, Palm Beach County in South Florida issued a countywide mask mandate. Facial coverings are now required in all businesses and government buildings, while using public transportation, and in public when social distancing is not possible. The emergency order noted that the county saw a “sharp increase” in positive COVID-19 cases in late May and June. The county has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Florida after Broward and Miami-Dade.

Palm Beach County commissioners unanimously passed the mandate on Tuesday, with one commissioner saying the majority of calls and emails she received were in favor of it, according to the Palm Beach Post. Still, the vote was preceded by protesters shouting “Freedom,” and dozens of local residents heatedly testified against mask-wearing during a more than three-hour public comment session.

“You do not have the authority to govern my body,” one said.

“You guys are overstepping your boundaries,” said another.

Several Florida counties, including Miami-Dade and Orange, have been sued for mandating masks. One lawyer told West Palm Beach ABC affiliate WPBF that there are plans to file suit this week against Palm Beach County.

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