CDC Director meets with state public health leaders in Columbia, encourages wearing face masks

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — The head of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was in Columbia Thursday afternoon to learn more about South Carolina’s COVID-19 response.

Dr. Robert Redfield spoke with a panel of state leaders and health experts, including Gov. Henry McMaster (R-SC), State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell, Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) Acting Director Dr. Marshall Taylor, and DHEC Acting Public Health Director Dr. Brannon Traxler, about the state’s response to COVID-19, and what South Carolinians need to do to stay safe.

Over the last seven months, Dr. Redfield has been a major player in the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Traveling across the country, he says one thing is to blame for the most recent surge in cases across the South: tourists from up North.

“Much of the Southern surge was caused by individuals coming south for vacation, and the surge that we’re seeing now, it’s not a surge that we had hoped was just a small surge post-Labor Day, but clearly, we’re in an expanding phase,” Dr. Redfield said.

Dr. Redfield told the panel there has been a growing rise in the number of people between the ages of 18-25 who have tested positive for COVID-19. 

The CDC Director says it’s up to colleges and universities to protect this group of people, which is something University of South Carolina President Bob Caslen says is the university’s daily mission.

Caslen told the panel that zero students out of nearly 500 tested yesterday were positive for COVID-19.

“It’s important for us to not be complacent and to remain vigilant, and to prepare ourselves as we go home for Thanksgiving to make sure we test all of our students to identify those who are positive and those who are asymptomatic positive so we can contain that virus back here and not bring it home to where they’re going,” Caslen said.

As he delivered remarks to South Carolina’s top leaders, Redfield says there’s one thing South Carolinians need to fend off the virus.

“We have a powerful weapon, it’s called a face-mask, and that if all of us wore it, for 4-6-8-12 weeks, we would begin to really contain and control this pandemic,” Dr. Redfield said.

As of Thursday, DHEC has reported 154,869 COVID-19 cases among South Carolinians, and at least 3,400 deaths caused by the virus. Thursday also marked the third day since the start of September where South Carolina had more than 1,000 new cases of the virus.

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