COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) – South Carolina’s governor says he won’t issue a mask mandate, but he and other state officials are urging the use of face coverings, social distancing and washing hands — especially among young people.
According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), since April 4, there has been a 414% increase in positive cases in the 21-30 age group and a 966% increase among ages 11-20.
And Friday, the state saw the second highest jump in cases in a single day.
DHEC Director Dr. Joan Duwve said in some cases, they’ve found that “clusters” of young people contract the virus following parties or trips to South Carolina’s beaches.
“They didn’t wear masks and they didn’t social distance and many of them contracted the virus,” she said, “which not only caused them to be sick but put the health of their families and their entire communities at risk.”
Gov. Henry McMaster urged young people to avoid close contact with older folks who are more likely to see the deadly effects of the virus.
McMaster said that he is renewing the state of emergency and has no plans at this time to lift restrictions on “all those things that involve crowds,” such as nightclubs, concert venues, and spectator sports.
As for issuing a mandatory mask measure, he said it would be an empty promise, as the state couldn’t enforce it.
“That’s up to them,” McMaster said of city mandates.
“No two cities are alike but that still leaves the question of enforcement,” he said when asked about Columbia’s decision to require masks in public.
The governor said it’s still an important precaution, urging residents to “take it upon yourself to follow those rules.”
“Wear a mask, social distance from others by at least 6 feet,” said Duwve. “Avoid group gatherings, wash your hands and stay home when you’re sick.”
The governor said DHEC is working on a plan to make it possible for immediate family members to visit relatives in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
McMaster said he has no plans to close down beaches for July 4 or close bars back up as states like Texas and Florida have.