Anti-COVID-19 lockdown group encourages followers to burn their face masks
Image via Twitter.

Reopen NC, a right-wing protest group aimed at ending all of North Carolina's public health restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, is now encouraging its followers to burn their face masks.

Local news station WCNC reports that the group has set up a "Burn Your Mask Challenge" on social media after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said this week that he's considering mandating wearing face masks in public.

Reopen NC organizer Ashley Smith tells WCNC that asking people to wear masks during a pandemic that has killed 117,000 Americans in just three months is an infringement of basic liberties.

"This comes down to an issue of rights, and what the constitution guarantees American citizens and it is my right to buy property and destroy it," she said. "For me personally, I will not comply."

Smith also said that "it's extremely selfish to tell someone they have to wear a mask."

Dr. Mandy K. Cohen, the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, tells WCNC that masks have become essential in slowing the spread of the disease.

"[Studies] continue to show us the importance of wearing a face covering to slow the spread, and face coverings really shows effectiveness when we can get many many folks doing that all together," she said.