SC doctors petition to repeal Proviso banning mask mandates, legislators call for an emergency session

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MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD)- One thousand of South Carolina’s medical experts are calling for the reinstatement of mask mandates in public schools. In a petition, they’ve asked Governor Henry McMaster to repeal his proviso that bans the mandate.

More than 200 of those signatures came from Lowcountry doctors who say masks in schools will not only prevent more children from getting sick, but also prevent hospitals from getting overwhelmed.

Dr. Elizabeth Mack, a pediatric critical physician and Vice President of the South Carolina American Academy of Pediatrics (SCAAP) says in the ICU where she practices, they have certainly seen an uptick.

Dr. Mack is one of the physicians from across the state, who signed her name to send a message to Columbia: repeal Proviso 1.108.

The proviso in the state budget prohibits mask mandates in South Carolina schools, stating, “no school district, or any of its schools, may use any funds appropriated or authorized pursuant to this act to require that its students and/or employees wear a facemask at any of its educational facilities.” 

Dr. Mack says, “right now our population [younger] than 12 years old does not have access to vaccination and that’s why pediatricians feel very strongly about kids being masked in school.” 

Masking, according to Dr. Mack, is about more than just fighting off the delta variant. She says it also decreased the amount of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) in the population.

“We really saw almost 0 RSV and now it too is back with a vengeance, it is filling our children’s hospitals both in the state and in the country”. 

Now, the South Carolina Democratic Caucus is stepping in, calling for an emergency legislative session as they say the state of the pandemic has worsened since their initial votes.

We need to fix this and we need to fix this now. 

Rep. J. Todd Rutherford, House Minority Leader (D) 

Rep. Todd Rutherford says with the heightened cases and some districts cancelling schools due to outbreaks, he believes a new vote should take place. 

He says, “almost every week our numbers double, every member needs the chance, the opportunity to simply either change their vote or not say where they are with masks mandates in schools.”

Those with the American Academy of Pediatrics say, if the proviso does not change, they fear cases of MIS-C increasing will come next. 

We reached out to the Governor’s office for comment, they said Governor Mcmaster’s position remains unchanged.

Governor McMaster’s position remains unchanged – a parent has the ultimate expertise when it comes to the health and safety of their families, and it should be a parent’s decision alone that determines whether their child wears a facemask at school. 

Brian Symmes, Communications Director SC Governor’s Office

 The South Carolina House and Senate Democratic Caucuses and the Legislative Black Caucus will hold a press conference in the second-floor lobby of the State House on Tuesday, August 17th at 11 a.m. to call for an emergency session of the General Assembly to repeal Proviso 1.108.

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