HARTSVILLE, SC (WBTW) — Thousands of masks were distributed to Hartsville residents Thursday, a day after the city’s ordinance took effect.
Around 3,000 masks were given out in a drive-thru fashion outside the Coach T.B. Thomas Sports Center. The masks were donated by Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center, the Byerly Foundation and the Sonoco Foundation.
Masks are now required inside foodservice and retail establishments within the city, as well as city-owned buildings, with some exceptions. Staff at restaurants and retail businesses need masks in many scenarios too.
“We had a ton of people that just really felt like this was something the city needed to do to protect its citizens,” Director of Tourism and Communications Lauren Baker said. “We’ve heard from our local healthcare professionals, Carolina Pines especially, that this is something they wanted to see.”
The ordinance comes after a resolution that had encouraged the use of masks.
It also comes as the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control releases new data about the apparent effectiveness of local mask mandates.
DHEC said Wednesday jurisdictions with mask requirements have shown a 46.3 percent greater decrease in the total number of COVID cases during the four weeks after the rules were put in, when compared to places that don’t have requirements.
DHEC also said that places with mask requirements in place have seen an overall decrease of 15.1 percent in total cases for the four weeks after the rules were put in, compared to before.
During the same time frame, places without mask requirements have watched an overall increase in total cases of 30.4 percent, DHEC said.
Darlington City Council tabled its discussion of a resolution suggesting masks during a meeting this week, seeking more clarity on a few points. It will be discussed again next month.
“I think it’s going to be voluntary,” Darlington Mayor Curtis Boyd said. “To me, I just don’t see how anywhere is actually able to completely enforce it.”
He said in the city of Darlington, active cases have been decreasing recently.
“Everywhere I go, you see a lot of people wearing masks,” he said. “I think people are taking it upon themselves. And that’s my feeling that if you think you should wear the mask and it helps you then wear the mask.”
Some in Hartsville think it should be left up to each person, despite the ordinance.
“They put it in their pocket. They put it back on. It doesn’t stay clean. Its not doing what they want it to do,” resident Adaiah Toothaker said.
Despite some residents’ apparent opposition to Hartsville’s ordinance, many others support it, like Carolina Pines.
“We encouraged it through the city,” Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the hospital Miranda Peavy said. “In hopes to, keep our community healthy and to keep our patrons and citizens safe here in Hartsville.”
South Carolina Emergency Management has set up an interactive map showing municipalities and counties that have enacted mask ordinances.