New DHEC data shows decrease in COVID-19 spread for areas requiring masks

Coronavirus

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) – — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control released new data that indicates local mask ordinances are helping to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“This new data shows us what we already knew, wearing face masks works,” said Dr. Linda Bell, S.C. State Epidemiologist. “We’re strongly supportive of these local leaders’ initiatives that are centered on protecting the health and wellbeing of their communities.”

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division has released a regularly updated map showing the counties and municipalities that currently have mask requirements in place, which is available on the home page of scemd.org.

SCEMD’s map shows jurisdictions where masks are required by ordinance and where masks have been recommended by a proclamation from local elected officials.

Analysis of local mask ordinances show:

  • As of this week, nearly 40 percent of residents, or approximately 2,000,000 South Carolinians, reside in jurisdictions that have local mask requirements in place.
  • When comparing the jurisdictions that have mask requirements in place to those that don’t, the jurisdictions with mask requirements have shown a 46.3 percent greater decrease in the total number of cases during the four weeks after the requirements were implemented.

“We will be in a much better position in four to six weeks if South Carolinians practice physical distancing and use a mask,” Bell said. “Together, we can completely reverse our fortunes and create safe environments for our business recovery, for our lifestyle recovery, and particularly for our students returning to school in a few short weeks, but we must act more aggressively, and now.”

Data analysis also shows:

  • Those jurisdictions with mask requirements in place have seen an overall decrease of 15.1 percent of total cases for the four weeks after the requirements were implemented compared to before the requirements were in place. This is an overall decrease of 34.6 cases per 100,000 people from before the mask requirements to after.
  • During the same time frame, those jurisdictions without mask requirements have experienced an overall increase in total cases of 30.4 percent, as well as an average increase of 24.1 cases per 100,000 people when compared to jurisdictions with a mask requirement in place.

“The residents in jurisdictions that acted first are seeing the benefits earlier,” Bell said. “This shows the sooner prevention measures are adopted, the sooner we all benefit.”

To reduce the spread of COVID-19, South Carolinians should:

  • Practice social distancing
  • Wear a mask in public
  • Avoid group gatherings
  • Regularly wash your hands
  • Stay home if sick

For the latest information related to COVID-19 visit scdhec.gov/COVID-19. Visit scdmh.net for stress, anxiety and mental health resources from the S.C. Department of Mental Health.

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