NAGOYA, JAPAN - FEBRUARY 06: An employee inspects disposable face masks on the production line of the Yokoi Co. Ltd. factory on February 06, 2020 in Nagoya, Japan. Yokoi, one of major mask manufacturers operating in Japan, said they received more than 20 times the normal orders for disposable face masks this month, due to the mask shortage in the country. Japan confirmed 45 cases of Wuhan coronavirus as the number of those who have died from the virus, known as 2019-nCoV, in China climbed to over 563 on Thursday, cases have been reported in other countries. (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

I’ve almost repressed the memory of daily mask-wearing. It never felt normal or natural to me and I’m thankful every day that part of our lives is behind us. But every few months when I go to a doctor’s appointment I’m caught off guard by the need to put a mask on. In some circumstances I get it. But when I’m at the dentist and he’s about to be all in my mouth then why am I wearing it to wait by myself in the room? And at the eye doctor? Those lenses fog up constantly with a mask on. But the good news is that the major healthcare companies are saying goodbye to the mask requirement at most doctors offices in North Carolina.

Yesterday, Atrium Health, Novant Health, and others released statements resending the mandates.

Atrium Health: After careful consideration and extensive review of scientific data, medical leaders at Atrium Health have decided to discontinue mandatory masking in many of its health care settings where the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is minimal. There are still areas and circumstances where masking will be required.

Novant Health: On March 28 at 7 a.m., all Novant Health facilities will lift universal masking requirements for patients, visitors and team members. The decision to make masks optional was made in collaboration with other regional systems, including Atrium Health, Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, CaroMont Health, Cone Health and Randolph Health. As encouraged during the COVID-19 pandemic and flu season, everyone should consider their personal risk when considering masking. Patients may request their care teams wear masks during treatment and clinic visits.

I expect smaller private practice offices to follow suit as well. This includes the afore mentioned dentists and ophthalmologists. Of course, patients still have the option to wear a mask at any appointment they choose to do so. They will also be required in the presence of respiratory symptoms or around high-risk patients. But this is good news as some of the last requirements are gone. I know I certainly haven’t carried one with me in over a year, so it’s always a pain to have to ask at an appointment. Do you agree with the ending of the mask requirement at doctors offices in North Carolina? Or will you still be choosing to wear one?

This Tiny Town In North Carolina Was Just Named One Of The Nation's Best

The south is full of small towns. We talk about them often, and there are plenty to showcase. Then of course there are the major cities, which also get some respect and notoriety. But when you are craving a getaway where time really does slow down, and you can feel a part of the culture sometimes a small town is even too big. So perhaps plan a visit to a “tiny town”. The experts over at Southern Living Magazine and their readers recently voted on a list of the South’s Best Tiny Towns. And one tiny town in North Carolina was featured. Towns on the list are all under 10,000 population. And one in Texas has less than 100 residents who call it home.

In total twenty-one tiny towns were featured on this list. I’ve already told you one is in North Carolina, and it’s a place I’ve visited countless times. There are also two coastal South Carolina tiny towns featured. There is also a Smoky Mountain town that’s not too far from the North Carolina border. Additionally, another Tennessee town, and a couple from Georgia. While I haven’t visited every place they included on this list, the ones I have been I’d recommend! So the next time you’re in the mood for a weekend getaway perhaps try this tiny town in North Carolina or one of the others. Keep reading to see the North and South Carolina towns featured or you can read the full Southern Living analysis here.

  • North Carolina

  • Blowing Rock, NC

    Just outside of Boone sits Blowing Rock, NC. This quaint mountain town is somewhere I actually grew up going every summer. It’s beautiful year round, and features a small quaint downtown with shopping, restaurants, a public park, welcoming inns, and multiple festivals. In the summer check out the monthly Art In The Park festival where artisans from around the country set up booths monthly or in the winter check out Blowing Rock Winterfest. You’re a short drive from Boone, Banner Elk, and the area ski resorts. Plus Grandfather Mountain and Tweetsie Railroad.

    Population: 1,397

  • South Carolina

  • Georgetown, SC

    Situated in the area of South Carolina south of Myrtle Beach, Georgetown offers a completely different feel. This town of just over 8,000 people sits on the Winyah Bay and is actually the third oldest city in the Palmetto State. Visitors can enjoy shopping and dining along the scenic waterfront, fishing, and boating, and tours documenting the town’s rich history. And if you dare check out the ghost tours for a little spooky fun!

    Population: 8,333

  • Folly Beach, SC

    One of the beaches in the greater Charleston area is Folly Beach. Time here is spent away from the hustle and bustle of the holy city, but you’re close enough for an easy day trip or meal. While at Folly, spend time on the newly renovated pier, and enjoying the beach. You’ll also find appealing beach bars and casual eats. Folly is the perfect beach town for those who love to relax and unwind!

    Population: 2,056

  • Other Cities Recognized By Southern Living

    • Dahlonega, GA
    • Sanibel, FL
    • Broken Bow, OK
    • Gatlinburg, TN
    • Tybee Island, GA

    View the full list and Southern Living’s analysis of these towns here.