LOUISBURG -- The governor essentially stole the county's thunder when it comes to requiring face coverings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ultimately, said county Health Director Scott LaVigne, people need a little bit more coercion when it comes to taking safety precautions.
"There's no question ... you get different levels of adherence to what is the best possible course of action [to protect against the virus] when you require, rather than recommend]," LaVigne said this week, noting that once the state moved to Phase 2 and the stay-at-home order was lifted and restrictions on movement lessened, it was apparent that more people became less diligent about keeping safe distances and wearing personal protection equipment, such as face coverings.
"... Two Fridays ago, I went to [two popular locations] ... and I saw, maybe 50 to 60 percent compliance [with wearing a face covering]," he said. "Of the people who had them, 20 percent were not wearing them right; just over mouth or over their chin.
"I went to both places today," LaVigne said Tuesday, "and I only saw two people not wearing a mask.
"It was a night and day comparison."
LaVigne was preparing a proposal for the county to require face coverings, but Gov. Roy Cooper instituted a statewide requirement before LaVigne finished crafting his recommendation for county approval and implementation.
Whether it was the governor or the county, LaVigne said it will take that kind of diligence to slow the spread of the virus.
In Franklin County, as of press time, there hadn't been any new deaths reported in weeks, but there are 345 cases -- 51 cases per 10,000 residents.
But, it's important to note, LaVigne said, of what the Centers for Disease Control estimates is the real impact of COVID-19.
On June 1, the county had 35 new cases more than in the two weeks prior. On June 15, there were 72 new cases and, as of Monday, there were 107 more new cases than the county had in the two weeks before that, LaVigne said.
The CDC, LaVigne said, estimates that of the positive cases reported, on average, you can expect at least 10 times and up to 24 times that to be the actual number of people who have the virus -- who have it and may be asymptomatic or working their way through it.
"If you take the 107 new cases, add 72 on top of that and, maybe half of the 35 that are coming off [the diagnosis]; add all those together and multiply that by 10, then you get an idea of the number of people walking around Franklin County with the virus," LaVigne said.
"That's [more than] 1,800 folks," he said. "That's concerning.
"It's even more if you multiply by 24."
LaVigne said he will be watching figures diligently to see what kind of impact the face covering requirement has on county numbers.
"We hadn't seen that exponential growth until we went to Phase 2," he said.
"I'll be watching the numbers like a hawk.
"I'll be the canary in the coal mine."