COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – For the first, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is releasing new data that officials said indicates that local mask ordinances are helping to slow the coronavirus spread.
“This new data shows us what we already knew, wearing face masks works,” said Dr. Linda Bell, S.C. State Epidemiologist. “We’re strongly supportive of these local leaders’ initiatives that are centered on protecting the health and wellbeing of their communities.”
A DHEC analysis of the local mask ordinance shows that as of this week, about two million South Carolinians live in cities or counties that have local mask mandates in place.
When analysts compared areas with mask requirements with those that don’t have an ordinance in the place, the jurisdictions with mask mandates have shown a 46.3% greater decrease in the total number of cases during the four weeks after the requirements were implemented.
The data also shows that counties and cities with mask requirements saw a 15.1% decrease in cases four weeks after the requirements after mask mandates were in place. It’s an overall decrease of 34.6 cases per 100,000 people.
During that same time frame, the numbers show that places without mask requirements have experienced a 30.4% increase in coronavirus cases.
“We will be in a much better position in four to six weeks if South Carolinians practice physical distancing and use a mask,” Bell said. “Together, 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.”
DHEC released a new tool that allows people to see a localized look at coronavirus cases.
WMBF News used the tool to see the number of cases before mask mandates were implemented in Horry County and municipalities. The data showed a decrease in coronavirus cases in the two to four weeks after the local ordinances were put into place.
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DHEC continues to urge South Carolinians to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, avoiding group gatherings, regularly washing your hands and staying home if you’re sick.