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Lexington mask mandate could be revisited, councilman says

The Town of Lexington's mask mandate has expired as COVID-19 cases continue to increase.

LEXINGTON, S.C. — The Town of Lexington has had a mask mandate since July to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Last week, the mandate expired, but a councilmember said that may not be the end of it.

"We did meet in executive session to discuss whether or not to continue forward with an emergency ordinance," Councilman Steve Baker said. "During that conversation it became clear we weren’t going to have the five votes that we needed to extend it again."

Lexington Council has seven members – they need five to vote in favor of an emergency ordinance for it to pass. Councilman Baker said he thinks Council will revisit the issue and might discuss creating a new mask requirement.

RELATED: Columbia extends mask order until January, increases fines to $100

"I voted in favor of the mask requirement both times and I’m in favor of having it continued until we see improvement, and right now id argue that we’re not seeing improvement," said Baker.

In fact, Lexington County is seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases along with the rest of South Carolina. According to DHEC, Lexington County has a high incidence rate of COVID-19 and has the second highest hospitalization rate in the Midlands.

 On Monday, Lexington County hospital beds were 90% full and on Tuesday they were 85% full, according to DHEC’s website.

Chief Nursing Officer at The Lexington Medical Center, Melissa Taylor, said, “while we have seen the number of patients with COVID increase over the past couple of weeks, we have efficiently managed the higher volume. We will continue to assess our capability to open additional beds to meet the health care needs of our patients.”

RELATED: 1,326 new SC COVID cases, 18 additional confirmed deaths

Taylor says people should follow CDC guidelines like wearing masks and social distancing to help keep the community safe.

"It's my opinion that it’s a small sacrifice to ask people to wear masks. I anticipate as the dialogue continues, I don’t think this is the end [of the mandate]," said Baker.

Lexington Town Council will meet again on December 7th. 

RELATED: President-elect Joe Biden pushes for mask mandates in all 50 states