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ARHS donates masks to local law enforcement

Photo (left to right): Captain Kelly Redmon, Chief Deputy for the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Len Hagaman, Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, Chuck Mantooth, President & CEO of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, Andy Le Beau, Police Chief of Boone Police Department, and Aaron Miller, Police Chief of Blowing Rock Police Department.

On Friday, June 26, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s executive order went into effect requiring face masks be worn in public spaces where physical distancing of six feet is not possible. To help the community adhere to this requirement, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) donated 800 washable, reusable cloth face masks for local law enforcement officers to distribute as needed. Face masks will soon be donated to Avery County law enforcement officers as well.

The donated face masks will enable law enforcement officers to use a problem-solving approach to the enforcement of the order, offering a face mask to those without one. Hopefully, these additional mask resources can turn a potential confrontation into an opportunity to help keep the community safe.

“We realize that we have a role to play in supporting our law enforcement officers who are responsible for enforcing the mask requirement,” said Chuck Mantooth, President and CEO of ARHS. “This is a good opportunity for us to give back to the community and reinforce the importance of the three Ws – wearing a mask, waiting six feet apart, and washing hands.”

ARHS, Appalachian District Health Department (AppHealthCare), and other local businesses have been partnering to promote the “Show Your Love” campaign, highlighting the importance of following the three Ws. “At this time it is imperative that our community continue to come together to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and ARHS is committed to doing what we can,” Mantooth said.

“Boone Police are grateful for our partnership with ARHS. It is our duty to respond to violations of the Governor’s Executive Order requiring masks to be worn in many circumstances,” said Andy Le Beau, Chief of Police of the Boone Police Department. “The first part of our duty is to educate citizens about the requirement. With the masks supplied by ARHS we can now hand them a mask as well as provide education. We have many visitors from other areas who simply are not informed about the requirements. This supply of masks not only makes our job easier, but helps make our community safer.”

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, “law enforcement personnel cannot criminally enforce the face covering requirements of this order against individual workers, customers, or patrons. However, if a business or organization does not allow entry to a worker, customer, or patron because that person refuses to wear a face covering, and if that worker, customer, or patron enters the premises or refuses to leave the premises, law enforcement personnel may enforce the trespassing laws.”

To learn more about how ARHS is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit apprhs.org/covid19.