Lawmakers calling on Gov. McMaster to put a 90-day statewide mask mandate into law
This comes after record numbers of South Carolinians have tested positive for COVID-19
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — With South Carolina eclipsing 3,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day for the first time Friday, lawmakers are calling on Gov. Henry McMaster (R-SC) to enforce a statewide mask mandate for 90 days.
Health experts say if more people wear masks, then less people will get sick and die as a result of the virus.
Since the start of December, more than 25,000 South Carolinians have tested positive for COVID-19. There was a six-day stretch where South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported 2,000+ new cases of COVID-19 a day, but on Friday, South Carolina set a new single-day record, eclipsing the previous high by nearly 700.
Senate Minority Leader Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg Co.) says a statewide mask mandate should have been in place months ago, but it is necessary now more than ever.
“Scientists and medical professionals are telling us that if we will wear a mask for a relatively short period of time, like 60 days or 90 days, we can knock these numbers back,” Sen. Hutto said.
Sen. Hutto wrote a letter to Gov. McMaster, calling on him to enforce a 90-day mask mandate as soon as possible.
In a statement, Brian Symmes, a spokesman for Gov. McMaster said:
“The governor doesn’t have any plans to issue a statewide mask mandate. As he’s said many times before – such an order would be entirely unenforceable. One size simply doesn’t fit all.
If local governments – which have an intimate understanding of their communities’ needs – decide that such an order is in their best interest, then the governor recognizes their authority to issue one.”
Despite this, Sen. Hutto said the fight for a mask mandate is much like the one lawmakers went through when forcing to make wearing seatbelts mandatory.
“I get that people don’t like government telling them what to do, but the reality is when it is the law, more people will comply,” Sen. Hutto said.
Since the General Assembly isn’t meeting for another month, Sen. Hutto says the ball is in the Governor’s hands to make a play that could save lives.
“The numbers are increasing now, the strain on the healthcare system is going to be now, it’s imperative that now we collectively say to everybody you’ve got to wear a mask,” Sen. Hutto said.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, DHEC has reported at least 228,261 confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Carolina, with 4,332 deaths.