CLEMSON, S.C. (WSPA) – The Clemson City council passed a mask ordinance for essential places during a special called meeting due to a surge in COVID-19 cases Friday afternoon.
According to the council, masks must be worn in public and private schools, daycares, preschools and all indoor essential places.
Clemson’s ordinance says the city can require masks in schools, since the state’s current proviso does not mention municipalities, or municipal ordinances exercising this power.
“The proviso does not mention municipalities, municipal ordinances, or funding from other sourcesCITY OF CLEMSON ORDINANCE CC-2021-19
and/or announcing/requiring/enforcing of facemask requirements by any other
entity. Therefore, the clear and unambiguous language of the proviso does not
prohibit municipal exercise of the powers provided by S.C. Code Ann. §5-7-250
to enact, announce, fund, require, and enforce facemask requirements within
Accordingly, all persons aged 2 years and older, unless otherwise exempt herein,
present for any reason at any public or private school, pre-school, kindergarten,
or day care within the City must wear a face covering while indoors and/or in or
on transport vehicles, such as buses, cars, trucks, or enclosed shuttles.”
The state budget explicitly prohibits school mask mandates. Attorney General Alan Wilson is suing the city of Columbia over similar rules there.
The School District of Pickens County said it strongly recommends all students and staff wear masks to slow the spread.
“I’m definitely a fan of it in schools, especially if the alternative to try and stop the cases would be going online,” said Zack Beyerl, resident.
Essential places include grocery stores, retails stores with food, produce stand, convenience stores, pharmacies, medical and city facilities, cat buses and ride shares.
“I definitely don’t like wearing masks. I feel like it’s pretty uncomfortable, however, if they tell me to wear it. I’ll just wear it. It’s not a big deal for me, but definitely as soon as I’m out of the grocery store or as soon as I’m out of a classroom or a bus, I’m definitely going to take it off,” said Diego Herrera, resident.
Masks will not be required in banks, bars, restaurants, non-grocery stores, gyms, home improvement stores, non-medical professional offices.
“I actually feel like that the city will do what they feel is best for the community. So, we of course will follow what the city mandates of course. As we are not an essential business, we will meet and make some determination about what our stores will do based on the safety and the comfort of our team and or customers,” said Patti Nichols, General Manager, The Tiger Sports Shop.
“In the last two weeks, we’ve seen a huge surge in the number of cases. For example, the past two weeks, we’re at 1,229 cases, whereas just the first part of June, we were at 24 cases,” said Chief Billy Gibson, Director of Emergency Services for Pickens County. “That’s what I call an explosion in the number of cases, and when you look at the fact, that for the entire month of June we were at less than 60 cases, and here we are in two weeks, we’re almost at 1,250 cases. That’s a huge concern.”
Gibson also said the week of August 9, emergency medical services received 53 COVID related calls. Gibson said the 53 calls in one week, is the most the county has seen since the pandemic.
“86 percent of hospitalizations and 90 percent of the deaths, the folks were not fully vaccinated,” Gibson said. “One of the main things we encourage folks is to get a vaccination. They are so readily available now that children as young as 12 can be vaccinated. Second is, wear their masks anytime they’re going out in public. No matter what your thought process is, we know that it does work. We’re also telling folks if you’re not feeling well, stay home.”
City administrators said city council will revisit the ordinance at each meeting moving forward.