(WSPA) – Governor Henry McMaster shared his opinion with the public Wednesday on the possibility of a mandate for masks in South Carolina following the recent COVID-19 outbreaks.

McMaster stated, “As talks of mask mandates and closures kick up across the country, I can assure the people of South Carolina we will not have mask mandates.”

“We will not close schools, and we will not lock down.”

According to the CDC, COVID-19 hospitalizations have been increasing, from about 6,000 a week at the beginning of the summer to more than 15,000 the week of Aug. 19, the most recent week of federal data. But in 96% of the country, COVID-19 hospitalizations are considered low.

The percentage of U.S. deaths attributed to COVID in late August – 2% — was up from 1.7% the week before.

The CDC recommends that people infected with COVID stay home and away from others for at least five days and wear a high-quality mask when indoors around others. The CDC also says that people who are not infected should avoid being around the infected person until their home isolation period ends. If they must be near an infected family member, it’s important to consistently wear a high-quality mask, practice good hand hygiene and take other infection-prevention measures, the CDC says.

Officials already are expecting updated COVID-19 vaccines that contain one version of the omicron strain, called XBB.1.5. It’s an important change from today’s combination shots, which mix the original coronavirus strain with last year’s most common omicron variants. But there will always be a need for updated vaccines as the virus continues to mutate.