North Carolina health officials and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper announced they will eliminate the statewide mask mandate and ease masking requirements in schools. The new recommendations released on Wednesday urge K-8 schools to require masks for students and staff while they are indoors but allows fully vaccinated high school students and staff to be unmasked. The mask mandate expires at 5 p.m. on July 30. That's the same time the updated school reopening guidance takes effect. The easing of masking restrictions comes as the state is seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations fueled by the delta variant.