From June 30 to August 1 the hospitalized Covid patient count in North Carolina has risen from 381 to 1359 and we are at 2200 new cases per day. Florida had 21,000 new cases on Saturday July 31. The rate of new Covid cases is now climbing exponentially. In that same time period, Local 238 has had a member's spouse go into the ICU because of Covid only a couple of weeks after visiting the union hall. Yesterday another Local 238 member called and was on his way to be tested because his tool buddy was diagnosed with Covid. The CDC has changed their guidelines and is recommending masks at all indoor gatherings whether attendees are vaccinated or not, especially in the high coronavirus spread states of the south. Lowes and Home Depot are returning to requiring masks in their stores. In an effort to protect one another and our families, especially young children who can not yet be vaccinated, Local 238 will return to mask protocols in the union hall. We will limit foot traffic in the business office to staff and officers only. The office staff will refer and accept payments using the foyer glass partition pass through. Members will be masked when paying dues, buying merchandise, or accepting referrals at the union hall. The membership meeting on August 21 will be held outside if the weather permits or will be held inside and require participants to wear their masks. This decision was not an easy one as none of us truly wants to return to wearing masks, but it is the right decision for our Local, its members and their families.