COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) — Gov. Henry McMaster lashed out at mask mandates and said South Carolina parents will decide if their children wear masks in schools.
McMaster held a short press conference Wednesday, following a bill signing. Most of the press conference was spent discussing the recent COVID-19 spike across the nation especially where vaccination rates are low. McMaster took aim at national media and “so-called experts” claiming they are driving up “hysteria, hyperbole and exaggeration” about the spike.
“I say, do not listen to that, listen to competent sources… and make your decision,” McMaster said.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released updated guidance urging everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to again wear masks indoors. According to the CDC, new findings suggest the new delta variant spreads more effectively and has begun to infect fully vaccinated people as well. It also said those fully vaccinated can spread the variant.
On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Environmental Control released a series of statements standing behind the updated CDC guidance. DHEC also encouraged citizens to wear masks indoors, encouraged students to wear masks in schools and encouraged all eligible citizens to get vaccinated.
McMaster said health experts have failed to listen to parents’ opinions on mask wearing in schools.
“You’ve got to listen to the parents, the parents know their children, they know what’s good for them, they know the school system and a lot of our experts are not listening to parents,” McMaster said. Under South Carolina law, schools are prevented from imposing mask mandates.
Despite recent guidance, McMaster said he nor his wife will wear masks because they both caught COVID-19 and are fully vaccinated. He stopped short of outright encouraging mask wearing and said it was a personal choice. However, he did mention evidence that vaccines are effective in preventing serious illnesses associated with COVID-19.
“The vaccinated people are not coming into the hospital, so it is clear that the vaccine works,” McMaster said plainly.
McMaster said his state is doing well in the fight against COVID-19 and has made the right decisions all along. The state did not impose a statewide mask mandate at any point during the pandemic. Currently, South Carolina has fully vaccinated 44.4% of its population.
“At some point, these measures, these emergency measures must end and they’ve ended in South Carolina,” McMaster said.