Governor McMaster, DHEC respond to latest CDC guidance

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Governor Henry McMaster responded to the Centers for Disease Control’s latest guidelines on mask wearing Tuesday, saying it comes down to personal responsibility.

In a tweet, Governor McMaster wrote, ‘State law now prohibits school administrators from requiring students to wear a mask. The General Assembly agreed with me— and that decision is now left up to parents.’ The tweets go on to say, ‘The Delta Variant poses a real threat to South Carolinians. However, shutting our state down, closing schools, and mandating masks is not the answer. Personal responsibility is.’

His final tweet mentioned ‘the vaccine works.’

Those updated guidelines from the CDC recommend everyone, including those in a school setting, wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

The guidance added that students should return to full-time, in-person learning in the Fall with proper prevention strategies in place.

State Health Officials issued a statement Tuesday in support of the updated CDC guidance. The release said it’s not a mandate, but that DHEC encourages individuals to protect themselves and others.

The release said DHEC will be finalizing K-12 guidance for the 2021-2022 academic year and will provide that this week. It goes on to add that vaccinations are the number one way to end this pandemic.

Doctor Marcus Blackstone is the Chief Clinical Officer at Bon Secours St. Francis. He said St. Francis is starting to slightly see more people hospitalized for Covid-19.

“About three weeks ago we had zero, for a couple of days in our hospitals,” Dr. Blackstone said. “But we are seeing a bit of a slow rise in our hospitals. It’s very small.”

He said mask wearing is required in the building and that the hospital works week to week, prepared for what could be ahead.

“We look at our beds, we look at our staffing, just to make sure that we can go back to the contingency plans we had in 2020,” Dr. Blackstone said.

Data charts from Prisma Health show that their system is also seeing a slight upward trend in Covid-19 hospitalizations.

As a precautionary measure to protect staff and patients at Prisma Health, visitations are limited. That effect went into place in early June and includes no visitors are allowed in their Covid unit.

Those rules also apply over at bon secours st. Francis.

7 News reached out to see if the Greenville County School District was planning to discuss the new guidance. Spokesperon Tim Waller said administration has not yet had conversation.

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