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SC cities begin requiring masks as COVID-19 cases surge

Nearly 1,600 new cases of the virus, the highest total since the pandemic began, was announced along with 15 additional deaths.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Saturday was another record-breaking day of coronavirus cases in the Palmetto State.

Nearly 1,600 new cases of the virus, the highest total since the pandemic began, was announced along with 15 additional deaths.

RELATED: Record 1,599 COVID-19 cases in SC, 15 additional deaths

This came as cities began taking safety measures into their own hands by requiring face coverings with Columbia, Greenville and Charleston among those to make the move.

RELATED: Columbia face mask requirement now in effect

"What our hope is, is that... people will comply with the ordinance and wear a mask so that we can slow the spread of the disease and hopefully get more of a handle of it here locally," Columbia City Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine said. “If you look at where we were, everything had to shut down. We don’t want to get to that point again, so if we can reduce the spread by wearing masks then that would be better.”

According to state health officials, more than 31,000 people have contracted the virus statewide with some of the highest counts in Charleston, Horry, Greenville, Lexington and Richland counties. 

RELATED: City of Columbia to distribute masks

"If you look at where we were, everything had to shut down," Devine said. "We don't want to get to that point again, so if we can reduce the spread by wearing masks then that would be better."

A closer look at the COVID-19 numbers shows increases in the percentage of positive tests and the number of young people contracting the virus.

Credit: DHEC
DHEC Percentage Positive Chart

The state has also seen an increase in the number of hospitalizations, but, as of June 25th the recovery rate is at 80 percent, according to data from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

RELATED: Hospital beds reaching high capacity in South Carolina

The governor sent a stern message to locals Friday to maintain safe practices as the virus remains a concern.

"This is a dangerous, deadly disease. You've got to follow the rules: Wear your masks, keep that distance from people, wash your hands. Be careful. If you're sick, go home," McMaster said. "If you have any doubt about whether you may have the virus, go get a test, but for goodness sake wear your mask."

RELATED: Richland County Council considers special meeting for potential face mask ordinance

As more cities consider making face coverings a requirement, Governor McMaster said he is not in favor of a statewide mandate saying it would not be enforceable. 

RELATED: SC governor says statewide mask rule 'ineffective,' 'unenforceable'

Devine says she hopes to see a statewide ruling to avoid confusion as more cities move to make the masks a requirement.