McMaster tells young people it’s ‘deadly important’ to use care

Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 1:31 PM EDT
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WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster had a strong message for young people in the state as COVID-19 cases continue to spike on Friday.

McMaster is speaking alongside health officials from the Department of Health and Environmental Control from the state’s Emergency Operations Center in West Columbia.

Dr. Joan Duwve said South Carolina is now a hot spot in the United States. Several governors of other states have announced that visitors to their states from South Carolina must quarantine for 14 days.

Friday, DHEC announced the second-highest number of new cases since the outbreak began -- with 1,273 new cases.

Most of the spike is coming from young adults, she said. They are considering anyone under the age of 35 a young adult in this case, as that is the age group seeing the highest spike in cases right now.

From the moment the governor approached the podium Friday, he directly addressed young people in the state.

“This is a dangerous, deadly disease,” McMaster said. “Follow the rules, wear that mask, keep your distance.”

He echoed health officials who have said young people can easily become infected by COVID-19, not experience symptoms and then pass the virus to others who are more at risk.

Duwve said group gatherings and trips are infecting young people at an alarming rate, which is then putting the rest of the community as risk.

Young people who do not wear masks or social distance are spreading the virus to others and contributing to the spike in cases, Duwve said.

She urged anyone who has visited a beach recently to get tested for COVID-19.

The governor said restrictions on entertainment venues would not be lifted until progress is made in the spread of the virus. Those businesses that remain closed include nightclubs, movie theaters, performing arts venues and sporting event venues.

“In the strongest most urgent terms -- keep that social distance,” McMaster said to young people. “Especially if it’s your parents, grandparents -- anyone older than you are. Be considerate.”

When asked if he would consider closing beaches again to try to stop the spread, the governor said he would not. He said local governments can make decisions, but he will not close any parts of the state he has reopened.

He reiterated he would not close any businesses -- restaurants and bars included -- to try to stop the spread.

McMaster did urge people to only visit restaurants with the Palmetto Priority seal, which means they are taking every health precaution recommended by DHEC to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The governor also said he would not make a statewide requirement for the public to wear masks.

“It is impractical to have a mandate that everyone wear a mask,” McMaster said. “It’s not enforceable.”

However, he said cities do have the ability to make local requirements and enforce them.

Friday morning, the City of Columbia enacted a mask requirement for people inside commercial buildings.

Other towns in the Midlands are considering such ordinances.

The governor said he is lifting some restrictions on nursing home visitation to allow immediate family members to visit patients. However, he said young people should not be allowed to visit nursing home patients.

McMaster also said the state has developed and is working under a hospital surge plan.

He said he may have to postpone elective surgeries again to keep hospital capacity up in the state, but he did not make that move Friday.

Copyright 2020 WIS. All rights reserved.

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