With COVID-19 numbers back on the rise across North Carolina and Orange County back in the CDC’s “yellow” zone, one local school is reinstating its mask mandate – at least for now.

Effective immediately, Hillsborough Elementary School will be requiring indoor masking “for all students, staff, and visitors” through at least Friday, June 3. That’s because the school has seen at least nine linked cases in the last seven days, comprising two percent of the student population.

School officials had earlier set that number as a cap that triggers a temporary mask mandate if exceeded. Hillsborough Elementary also reinstated a mask mandate for two weeks in mid-April, in response to an earlier outbreak.

The news from Hillsborough Elementary comes as North Carolina health officials report a continued increase in COVID numbers across the state. 636 new patients were admitted to the hospital with COVID last week, up from 524 the week before. And ten of North Carolina’s 100 counties are now in the CDC’s “yellow” zone with medium community transmission. Most of those counties are clustered around the Triangle – including Orange County as well as Durham, Chatham, Alamance, Wake, Franklin, Harnett, and Lee.

Read more at the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ COVID-19 dashboard.

Perhaps most troubling, health officials reported a spike in COVID particles found in wastewater – 19 million particles last week, up from 13.7 the week before.

Health experts say that metric is an early signal of what’s likely to come in the next few weeks.

Local health officials are continuing to urge residents to stay up to date with COVID vaccines – and to mask up, particularly in crowded indoor spaces.

Get more information on COVID-19 prevention at the Orange County Health Department’s website.

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