SC DHEC data shows COVID-19 cases dropping in places with mask mandates

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – SC DHEC officials say new data shows COVID-19 case numbers are going down specifically in places where masks are mandated.

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division released a regularly updated map showing the counties and municipalities that currently have mask requirements in place, which is available on the home page of scemd.org. SCEMDโ€™s map shows jurisdictions where masks are required by ordinance and where masks have been recommended by proclamation from local elected officials.
Analysis of local mask ordinances show:

  • As of this week, nearly 40 percent of residents, or approximately 2,000,000 South Carolinians, reside in jurisdictions that have local mask requirements in place.
  • When comparing the jurisdictions that have mask requirements in place to those that don’t, the jurisdictions with mask requirements have shown a 46.3 percent greater decrease in the total number of cases during the four weeks after the requirements were implemented.

“This new data shows us what we already knew, wearing face masks works,โ€ said Dr. Linda Bell, S.C. State Epidemiologist. โ€œWeโ€™re strongly supportive of these local leadersโ€™ initiatives that are centered on protecting the health and wellbeing of their communities.โ€

A few weeks ago, SC DHEC was reporting more than 1,500 new cases each day in the state, but Wednesday, August 12th, the agency reported just over 700 new cases.

After analyzing those numbers, DHEC says nearly 40 percent of people in South Carolina live in a place with a local mask mandate.

In Greenville, where masks are mandatory in pharmacies and grocery stores within city limits, COVID-19 case numbers have dropped from the high category (more than 301 cases) to moderately high category (201 to 300 cases) over the past two weeks.

DHEC officials say mask requirements have a 46 percent greater decrease in the number of cases, compared to places that don’t require face coverings.

โ€œWe will be in a much better position in four to six weeks if South Carolinians practice physical distancing and use a mask,โ€ Bell said. โ€œTogether, we can completely reverse our fortunes and create safe environments for our business recovery, for our lifestyle recovery, and particularly for our students returning to school in a few short weeks, but we must act more aggressively, and now.โ€
Data analysis also shows:

  • Those jurisdictions with mask requirements in place have seen an overall decrease of 15.1 percent of total cases for the four weeks after the requirements were implemented compared to before the requirements were in place. This is an overall decrease of 34.6 cases per 100,000 people from before the mask requirements to after.
  • During the same time frame, those jurisdictions without mask requirements have experienced an overall increase in total cases of 30.4 percent, as well as an average increase of 24.1 cases per 100,000 people when compared to jurisdictions with a mask requirement in place.

Greenville resident John Gibellino said he feels safer with a mask mandate in the city.

“In the stores where you’re not eating or drinking I think it makes sense. It does make you feel safer. I think it’s a good mandate to have.”

Visiting from California, Phyllis Garrett agreed. “It seems like people are complying with the mask mandate. If it helps the numbers go down, why not wear it? It’s pretty easy, right?” she said.

Dr. Bell said residents in jurisdictions that acted first are seeing the benefits earlier.

“This shows the sooner prevention measures are adopted, the sooner we all benefit,” she said.

To reduce the spread of COVID-19, DHEC said South Carolinians should:

  • Practice social distancing
  • Wear a mask in public
  • Avoid group gatherings
  • Regularly wash your hands
  • Stay home if sick

For the latest information related to COVID-19 visit scdhec.gov/COVID-19.

Visit scdmh.net for stress, anxiety and mental health resources from the S.C. Department of Mental Health.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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