COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) on Tuesday issued a statement recommending mask wearing for all residents, regardless of vaccination status, due to the spike in COVID-19 cases.
The statement came following updated guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to DHEC, “all South Carolinians, including those who are fully vaccinated, [should] wear their masks when indoors and in public settings.” The statement went on to note that “this includes masking for teachers, students, parents, and visitors in K-12 schools.”
The CDC reports “a rise in breakthrough cases – ones where fully vaccinated individuals test positive for COVID-19 – that is likely being fueled due to the rise of the Delta variant,” necessitating updated guidance.
DHEC’s Public Health Advisor, Dr. Brannon Traxler, said that the change “reflects the very concerning trends we are seeing nationally and here in South Carolina regarding increasing case rates and a stagnant vaccination rate.” She continued, saying “as a virus spreads, it mutates into more contagious forms, which explains the rise of the Delta variant. We were hoping to reach herd immunity to stifle the spread of COVID-19 to prevent this scenario, but public health urgency now makes it necessary to return to recommending universal masking in public indoor settings.”
Traxler emphasized that vaccines are the solution. Over 90% of recent COVID-19 cases and deaths and 86% of hospitalizations were in unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated individuals, according to recent statewide data.