GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Thousands of doctors across the state of South Carolina are sounding the alarm on Governor McMaster’s decision to uphold a proviso aimed to ban local school boards from establishing mask mandates.

As the Delta variant pushes COVID-19 cases to the highest they’ve been since February, doctors said in a statement they’re seeing the virus increase in severity and spread among children.

Dr. Hunter Moore, pediatrician at Children’s Medical Center in Greenville, said he’s seriously concerned about the well-being of children heading back to school without any safeguards or mask mandates in place to protect them from the virus.

The most recent data in South Carolina shows the rate of daily cases is over 2,000 over the past week. These are the highest numbers we have seen since February, 2021 and it is not reaching a plateau but continuing to increase at an alarming rate. With school starting this week and next in South Carolina and the rate of spread of the Delta variant among the unvaccinated population, we have every reason to believe the case rate will explode in the coming weeks. 

Dr. Hunter Moore, M.D., pediatrician Children’s Medical Center

Moore said while COVID-19 hasn’t been deadly for most children, physicians are already seeing an increase in other respiratory diseases, such as RSV, and if paired with COVID-19 could be a deadly combination.

Over the weekend, Dr. Moore created a petition and within days garnered more than 1,000 signatures from frustrated physicians from all corners of the state of South Carolina.

In the petition, physicians said they’re standing in solidarity with doctors in states such as Florida and Texas, which have overwhelmed pediatric ICUs and a governors who’ve tied the hands of local officials and school boards from establishing mask mandates.

“We’re standing in solidarity with our colleagues in Florida who have petitioned their state government to end mandates that restrict appropriate healthcare measures,” Dr. Moore wrote, “The frustrating thing with all of this is that we know we can prevent so many poor outcomes by trusting the science and doing two things – vaccinating everyone who is eligible and masking.”

On Monday morning, Dr. Moore sent the petition to the Governor McMaster, Senator Harvey Peeler and Greenville Mayor Knox White asking them to call an emergency session to repeal the proviso ahead of the first day of school in Greenville County on Aug. 17.

The petition ended with a plea to McMaster to “trust” them and listen to what state physicians are urging as cases explode. Moore said they’re the people you trust when your life or your child’s life is in danger and they urge you to trust them now.

“We want kids to be in school, we know that it’s important for children to be in school and to be around their peers — both developmentally and from a learning prospective. We just want them to do it in a safe way and we know the safest way is for everyone to be masked,” Dr. Moore said.

To read the full petition, click here.