Editor's note: Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles issued the following statement Aug. 16 relating to Mecklenburg County's mask mandate:

Since the beginning of this pandemic, I have said that I will rely on the medical and health care experts to guide our decisions for our community. Based on feedback from the public health department, Atrium Health, Novant Health and Medic, it is important that we take additional measures to help protect our residents and community.

I’ve spoken with George Dunlap and Gibbie Harris and I support their approach to create a county-wide mask mandate, which would create a consistent policy across Mecklenburg County and reduce confusion among our residents.

The soonest this could go into effect would be 12 days from today (Aug. 16), so in partnership with George Dunlap and Mecklenburg County, I am instituting a mask mandate that will go into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 18, and will bridge the gap between Wednesday and when a county-wide mandate could go into effect.

More than 1,000 of our friends and loved ones have died from COVID-19 in Mecklenburg County – and people continue to die.

One of the reasons we are doing this is that we are a community of families with children and we care deeply about the health of children as they begin school.

We are also doing this to support the people who work in our city and this is a way for our businesses to remain open.

We will work with and support our business community through this time.

For some of the people I represent in this city, this is a matter of life or death. I’ve read the emails and the letters that come to my office, with stories of personal tragedy.

We have to remember there are people who are medically unable to get a vaccine and they are relying on the rest of us to do our part to stop the spread of the virus before it infects them or their loved ones.

I received one email from a worried grandmother with a grandchild suffering from an immune system disorder. Members of our community are so concerned that they are writing to me, pleading for help.

Today, our community has taken a step forward to giving them the peace of mind they deserve.

It is not an overstatement to say that getting a vaccine and wearing a mask is a matter of life and death.

We need more people in our community to get vaccinated, which is the best way for us to get back to normal for the long-term. Unless we do better on getting shots in arms, this won’t be the last time we have to mandate masks or other measures.

With you, we can get to a better place. Getting a vaccine supports your family, your friends, and your neighbors. Please get vaccinated and please wear a mask.

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