WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines put on new pressure to voluntarily mask up.

Joines issued a statement Monday, urging the public to wear face masks indoors.

“Our community is experiencing a rise in the number of positive COVID cases. Our current daily case count is over 140 per day. As you may recall, our target is fewer than 10 cases per day. 

“Therefore, I am urging our citizens to take precautions to protect themselves and others by wearing a mask indoors. This is particularly important when you are in large groups or in a close setting. If two individuals are wearing a mask, there is less than a 3 percent chance of the virus being transmitted between those two individuals.

“I also urge any citizen who has not been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible and if vaccinated to get a booster shot.

“If we work together, we can contain the spread of the virus and prevent the adoption of more stringent requirements.”

While some have continued to wear masks in North Carolina, many opted to go without after cities and counties relaxed local requirements.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called for the end of mask mandates on Feb. 17, prompting both Greensboro and Winston-Salem to make plans to sunset the requirements.

“We are taking a positive step on mask requirements to help us move safely toward a more normal day-to-day life,” Cooper said. “It’s time to focus on getting our children a good education and improving our schools, no matter how you feel about masks.”

Guilford County’s face mask mandate came down later that day, when the Board of Health ended the mandate several days early. That same day, Joines announced that Winston-Salem’s mandate would expire on March 1.

“This decision is based on several factors that convinced me the mandate can be safely lifted,” Joines said at the time. “Rescinding mask mandates when COVID case numbers allow is an important stepping-stone to an endemic rather than pandemic approach to COVID.”

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has been tracking the number of virus particles found in wastewater. This is a way for the state to track how quickly the virus is spreading without needing to test or evaluate individuals. As of Monday, those numbers are on the rise.

The last peak that North Carolina saw was the weekend ending on Jan. 19. The state found 106.0 million viral gene copies per person in wastewater.

That number was trending down until it reached 1.2 million the week ending in March 16 and the week ending in March 23. That’s when numbers started to pick back up.

1.4 million — March 30

2.0 million — April 6

4.9 million — April 13

10.9 million — April 20

11.7 million — April 27

13.5 million — May 4

13.8 million — May 11

19.1 million — May 18

26.5 million — May 25

Courtesy of NCDHHS

According to the CDC county-by-county map , Guilford County is ranked “medium” for COVID-19 community level, while Forsyth County is ranked “high.” Also ranking “high” in the Triad are Alamance, Alleghany, Davie, Surry and Yadkin counties. In the state, 13 counties are ranked “high.”

About 77% of North Carolina adults are vaccinated with at least one dose, and 56% are boosted.