COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — Gov. Henry McMaster promised South Carolina residents that mask mandates, school closures and lockdowns will not occur because of increased COVID-19 outbreaks across the country.

“As talks of mask mandates and closures kick up across the country, I can assure the people of South Carolina we will not have mask mandates,” the Republican said. “We will not close schools, and we will not lock down.”

According to the CDC, COVID-19 hospitalizations have been increasing from about 6,000 a week at the beginning of the summer to more than 15,000 during the week of Aug. 19, the most recent week of federal data. COVID-19 hospitalizations are considered low in 96% of the country,.

The percentage of U.S. deaths attributed to COVID in late August – 2% — was up from 1.7% the week before.

The CDC recommends that people infected with COVID stay home and away from others for at least five days and wear a high-quality mask when indoors around others. The CDC also said that people who are not infected should avoid being around an infected person until their home isolation period ends.

If someone must be near an infected family member, it’s important to consistently wear a high-quality mask, practice good hand hygiene and take other infection-prevention measures, the CDC said.

Officials already are expecting updated COVID-19 vaccines that contain one version of the omicron strain, called XBB.1.5. It’s an important change from the current combination shots, which mix the original coronavirus strain with last year’s most common omicron variants. There will always be a need for updated vaccines as the virus continues to mutate.