More S.C. cities shift toward mask mandates

Published: Jun. 23, 2020 at 9:23 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - In the Palmetto State, more cases of the coronavirus are being reported along with deaths from COVID-19 related complications. On June 22, health officials released new numbers, reporting that South Carolina now had 25,666 confirmed cases and 659 deaths.

While wearing a face mask out in public has been strongly recommended by health officials to help stop the spread of the virus, it has not become a state mandate.

On June 18, state Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell released a statement saying in part:

“Every one of us has a role to play in stopping COVID-19. This virus does not spread on its own. It’s spread around our state by infected people who carry it wherever they go – their work, the supermarket, the post office, a friend’s house. By not following public health precautions, many are putting all at risk.

It is essential that each of us, every day, wear a mask in public and stay physically distanced from others.

We understand that what we’re continuing to ask of everyone is not easy and that many are tired of hearing the same warnings and of taking the same daily precautions, but this virus does not take a day off. Every day that we don’t all do our part, we are extending the duration of illnesses, missed work, hospitalizations and deaths in our state.

There is no vaccine for COVID-19. There are only individual behaviors and actions we must all maintain that help stop its spread...”

Some cities in South Carolina have began to consider whether or not wearing masks should continue to be an option or should become mandatory if a person is out in public. Greenville city leaders have required those visiting grocery stores and pharmacies to wear masks otherwise they will be fined $25.

Employees of restaurants, bars, salons and barbershops as well as retail businesses are required to wear masks any time there is face-to-face interaction. Employees at these businesses could be fined $100 dollars if they do not wear masks. This mandate will go in effect on June 23 at noon.

In Columbia, City Council is expected to pass an ordinance on June 23 that would require face masks to be worn in public. If passed, those who do not wear a mask could face a penalty of up to a $500 fine and or 30 days in jail.

Some council members feel as though the ordinance may pass unanimously, but they were unsure if any member’s opinions would be swayed leading up to the 2 p.m. vote on June 23.

Mayors of Myrtle Beach and Sumter have also looked into mask wearing requirements as well.

Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune asked the city attorney to look into possible mask requirements at certain businesses. Bethune says that her inquiry was only informational and that no discussion regarding issuing an order is being made at this time.

According to the Sumter Item, Mayor Joe McElveen was unsure of the authority that a mayor, or city council, had to make such a mandate, but he strongly urged people to wear masks when they could not socially distance themselves from others. A Sumter County Council member did confirm that members where discussing the idea of having a mask requirement.

During a press conference on June 22 that addressed the rise in coronavirus cases in South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster continued to strongly urge others to wear masks out in public. The governor stated that he did not make a mandate on wearing masks due to his belief that it may infringe on the rights of South Carolinians.

South Carolina Sen. Mia McLeod sent an open letter to Gov. McMaster expressing her thoughts on issuing a statewide mandate requiring that face masks should be worn out in public.

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