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DHEC urges residents to wear face masks as COVID-19 levels rise

All but two counties in South Carolina's 46 counties are experiencing high or medium levels of COVID-19, according to DHEC
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — As the number of COVID-19 cases are on the rise in South Carolina, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is urging residents to track levels of COVID-19 in their counties and follow Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for wearing face masks in counties with medium and high community levels of the virus.

According to DHEC's latest numbers, currently all but two of South Carolina's 46 counties -- Aiken and Barnwell -- are experiencing high or medium levels of COVID-19. A link to the CDC's Community Levels map is here. Counties marked in red are at high levels, counties marked in yellow are at medium levels.

“We are seeing significant increases in COVID-19 cases across our state, and we know there are a lot more cases that aren’t being reported due to the use of nonreportable home tests,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Public Health Director. “Masking remains one of the best ways to limit virus spread and the CDC has a great resource to help determine when to mask in public.”

Counties with a HIGH level of transmission include: Cherokee, Chester, Chesterfield, Colleton, Dorchester, Fairfield, Georgetown, Greenville, Horry, Kershaw, Laurens, Lee, Lexington, Marlboro, Newberry, Pickens, Richland, Spartanburg, Sumter, Union, and Williamsburg.

Counties with a MEDIUM level of transmission include: Abbeville, Allendale, Anderson, Bamberg, Beaufort, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Clarendon, Darlington, Dillon, Edgefield, Florence, Greenwood, Hampton, Jasper, Lancaster, Marion, McCormick, Oconee, Orangeburg, Saluda, and York.

The recommendations based on county levels are:

  • Low levels: masking is “not needed in most settings,” but remains optional for individuals.
  • Medium levels: individuals who are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 as well as those who are regularly around immunocompromised individuals are encouraged to mask up, while it is optional for others.
  • High levels: masking is recommended for everyone in indoor settings, including schools and workplaces.

For county-specific data, DHEC's community levels page has the latest information about the number of COVID-19 cases and trends. According to the data, COVID-19 cases have been on the rise the last several weeks. For the week ending on Oct. 29, DHEC reported 3,459 cases. Numbers have risen almost every week since then, including the most recent week ending on Dec. 31 totaling 10,481 cases.

In addition to masking, staying up to date on vaccinations and boosters, as well as testing when recommended, are important steps in preventing COVID-19 spread. For more information, visit DHEC’s main COVID-19 page.

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