Study finds SC among top states for people refusing to wear masks

Updated: Jul. 13, 2020 at 11:13 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb in South Carolina and the percent positive remains at more than 20 percent, some are concerned that not enough people are doing their part to stop the spread of the virus.

Data shows the Palmetto State is among the top five worst states in the country for coronavirus infection, and now a new study indicates South Carolina ranks eighth of states where people are refusing to wear a mask or are defying mask mandates. The study, which was put together by Survival at Home, is based on geotagged Twitter data that tracked anti-mask tweets and hashtags over the past 30 days.

“I believe that we’re number eight because a lot of people feel the mask is an infringement upon their rights or it’s uncomfortable to wear,” said Tiffany James. James is one of several volunteers leading the EndCoronavirus efforts in South Carolina. The international volunteer group promotes guidelines based on scientific research.

While a number of cities and towns have passed mask ordinances, James believes a statewide ordinance is needed to slow the spread of the virus. “If we do not have a statewide mask ordinance, it will get to the point where we’re not going to be able to control or contain the spread or stop it,” James explained.

Studies find wearing a mask is 50 to 75 percent effective at stopping the spread of COVID-19. A graph from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) shows universal mask wearing will cut the daily death toll from forty-six people in November to only two.”Putting on your mask is saying, hey, here’s a helping hand. I care about you,” said James.

Governor Henry McMaster has made it clear that he won’t issue a statewide mask ordinance because he says it’s unenforceable, but he’s supportive of cities and towns passing them on their own. “It can be enforced by our state leader. Just like with a national or state emergency, like a hurricane, there are enforceable measures to keep people safe. This is the same thing. We can enforce mask usage for people who are able to wear one to reduce the spread and save lives,” James said.

Monday, the City of Columbia said it had not issued any citations to individuals not complying with the city’s mask ordinance, and they’ve written less than ten $100 citations to businesses not complying.

EndCoronavirus says any cloth covering will work as a mask, but it needs to cover your entire nose and mouth or it’s not effective. The CDC also says face shields are not a substitute for face masks. If you chose to wear a shield, you should wear a mask underneath. If you chose to wear a face shield without a mask, it should wrap around the sides of your face and extend below your chin.

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