Charleston City leaders, health professionals discuss mask wearing as COVID-19 cases rise

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The City of Charleston met Wednesday night to discuss bringing some COVID-19 restrictions back after numbers of new cases have spiked across the state and Lowcountry. The meeting came 24 hours after announcing the city would roll back to Phase 3 of reopening in the city.

City leaders say they are concerned over the rise in COVID-19 cases around the city and Lowcountry. Leaders hope these latest measures will help curb the increase in infections. Doctors says vaccinations are the best long-term solution but say masks are needed to reverse the current rise in cases.

“We’re just having to respond again,” says Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg. “I didn’t want to be here, I didn’t even want to talk about COVID-19 anymore.”

Mayor Tecklenburg says hospitalizations are up 300% across the state of South Carolina with roughly 80 to 90 new cases being reported each day in the city. The city is renewing safety measures by requiring masks in city buildings and limiting the amount of people in buildings.

“It’s trying to stay focused on what’s going to get us passed coronavirus and that’s everybody getting vaccinated and for now wearing masks,” says Mayor Tecklenburg.

Numbers of new cases spiking in the middle of tourist season over the last four weeks. Dr. Valerie Scott, a Family Doctor of Roper St. Francis says as more tourists visit, the likelihood for new variants could increase.

“There are people coming from away, some of them are vaccinated some of them are not,” says Dr. Scott. “They may even bring other variants with them. So we are in a very precarious situation.”

Health officials and city leaders are urging masking up and rolling up the sleeves to reverse the trend before they say more measures are needed.

“I really think that masks are super important, I think it’s the only way we’re going to get out of this situation,” says Dr. Scott.

Cases on the rise as Lowcountry students are set to return to the classroom in just a matter of days. Mayor Tecklenburg says it makes mask wearing even more important.

To put them in a place where a number of folks and other people are gathering just raises that possibility for a spread,” says Mayor Tecklenburg.

It’s a plea from city and health leaders to reverse the spike in new infections with the measures and guidelines currently in place.

“If more people will head this advice and get vaccinated and wear a mask, then what’s now a pretty serious upwards spike will in the next few weeks start leveling off and turning around,” says Mayor Tecklenburg.

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