Health officials urge public to wear masks as COVID-19 cases rise

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Doctors in the Upstate are keeping an eye on the spread of the Coronavirus and are doing their best to fight it; but they say they can’t do it without our help, so they’re asking everyone to take their advice and wear a mask.

As more and more testing sites are popping up around the Upstate, health officials said they’re getting a better look at the impact Coronavirus has had on our area.

“We’ve been busy throughout this entire event. We typically average about 150 tests a day at this type of site and we continue to see that volume,” Lori McMillan, with Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, said.

“Since businesses and other activities have opened up in the last several weeks, we’ve seen a marked increase in the number of cases in Spartanburg and Greenville,” Dr. Chris Lombardozzi added.

In fact, Dr. Lombardozzi told 7 News that Spartanburg and Greenville are now considered hot spots.

“It’s a big deal. It’s gone up about 5% since we’ve reopened. So, almost a tripling in the number of cases,” he said.

In an effort to get a handle on the virus and mitigate the spread, Dr. Lombardozzi said we must stick to the basics.

“Six feet of distance, wear a mask, hand hygiene. If you’re sick, stay home,” he said.

But he and other health officials are putting an extra emphasis on wearing a mask.

“These are the modalities that are going to protect us as we move through this pandemic,” he said.

However, they say simply wearing a mask is not enough. You must wear it properly.

“Underneath your chin just doesn’t do it,” Lombardozzi said. “You’ve got to make sure your nose is covered.”

Lombardozzi said if we all wear a mask while in public or in large gatherings, we’ll have a better chance of keeping ourselves and others safe and healthy.

“It’s real and it’s serious. People have been hospitalized and people have died,” he said. “So, anything we can do to prevent, we need to continue to do that. Don’t let your guard down.”

Dr. Lombardozzi told 7 News cloth masks are a good idea because they’re easy to wash and re-use. He also said there’s no longer a shortage in masks, so he suggests having more than one. That way you can leave one at home, at work, and in the car, and you’ll always be prepared.

As of Friday, doctors with Spartanburg Regional told 7 News they are treating about 30 COVID-19 patients. They’re hoping by getting more people to wear a mask, that number will go down.

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