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Sumter's face mask ordinance expires, council to recommend following state guidelines

While DHEC says the state is experiencing a plateau in cases, agency leaders still believe people should wear a mask.

SUMTER, S.C. — Sumter’s face mask ordinance put in place last July expired Friday after multiple extensions.

City council will consider a resolution Tuesday recommending locals follow state and local guidance rather than extending the face mask ordinance again.

The resolution, listed in Tuesday’s council meeting agenda, cites the “lessening, yet continuation” of the pandemic as reason for the shift.

Other communities in the state have also allowed their ordinances to end, including the Town of Lexington, but a mix still require masks: Richland, Orangeburg and Charleston Counties among them, according to data from the State Emergency Management Division.

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While the S.C. Dept. of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) says the state is experiencing a plateau in cases, agency leaders still believe people should wear a mask.

In a statement to News 19 the agency said, “The science and data show that mask wearing decreases the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and analysis of data also has shown that mask mandates decrease the number of cases in communities. DHEC has performed three different mask analyses, all of which indicated what we already know: masks work. DHEC continues to support mask wearing, including mask requirements by local jurisdictions, to decrease the spread of the disease. While case and deaths counts are decreased from their winter peaks, the virus is still widespread in the state.

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The statement goes on to say, “Current public health actions like physical distancing and mask-wearing could begin to be relaxed nationally once enough of the population has received their COVID-19 vaccines. There isn't a time frame at this time, but getting your COVID-19 vaccine is how the state and nation can beat COVID-19 and return to a state of normalcy.”

Residents interested in providing feedback on Sumter’s ordinance can do so online through the city’s website or in-person Tuesday at 5:30p at the Sumter Opera House, located at 21 N. Main Street, during the council meeting.

To view the full resolution proposal click here.