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Masks effective at slowing spread of COVID-19 in SC, DHEC data shows

According recent data, DHEC has seen a slower rate of decrease spread in places with mask requirements than in communities without.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is sharing data that shows how COVID-19 has slowed in communities with mask requirement ordinances in place.

According recent data, DHEC has seen a slower rate of decease spread in places with mask requirements than in communities without.

The initial findings were released on August 12 for the counties and municipalities that have implemented mask requirements to protect against COID-19. DHEC issued a second mask analysis update on August 25

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) provides a map showing the counties and municipalities that currently have mask requirements in place, which is available on the home page of scemd.org.

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“This updated data analysis continues to show that jurisdictions with a mask ordinance remain effective in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 when compared to those jurisdictions without an ordinance in place,” said Dr. Michael Kacka, DHEC Physician and Chief Medical Officer. “The data reinforces what we’ve already known: the proper wearing of masks helps stop the spread of this deadly virus.”

The updated data indicates:

  • Nearly 42 percent of residents, or approximately 2,100,000 South Carolinians, reside in jurisdictions that have local mask requirements in place.
  • For this most recent analysis, jurisdictions with a mask ordinance were categorized into week of initiation, meaning the week the ordinance took effect, with five weeks of mask ordinance initiations considered:
    • First week: June 23-June 29 
    • Second week: June 30-July 6
    • Third week: July 7-July 13
    • Fourth week: July 14-July 20 
    • Fifth week: July 21-July 27 
  • When comparing the jurisdictions that have mask requirements in place to those jurisdictions that don't, the jurisdictions with mask requirements have experienced a greater percent decrease in cases one month after their ordinance initiation, as follows:
    • First week: 66.5% greater decrease
    • Second week: 39.2% greater decrease
    • Third week: 6.1% greater decrease,
    • Fourth week 3.5% greater decrease
    • Fifth week: no greater percent decrease

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"The important message is that the data continues to show that the locations that have mask ordinances in place where more people are wearing masks more routinely, they are seeing less evidence of spread of the disease," said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC's Interim Public Health Director. "They're seeing less spread occurring that we're picking up on testing than in other locations without ordinances."

Experts say wearing a face mask in public, socially distancing, avoiding group gatherings and washing your hands every day continue to be the best actions we can take against COVID-19.