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DHEC analysis shows mask requirements slowing COVID-19 spread

Staff Report //August 13, 2020//

DHEC analysis shows mask requirements slowing COVID-19 spread

Staff Report //August 13, 2020//

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A new data analysis from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control shows that areas requiring masks have shown a 46.3% greater decrease in the total number of COVID-19 cases during a four-week period after those requirements were implemented than areas without such ordinances.

As of this week, nearly 2 million South Carolinians, or 40% of the state’s residents, live in areas with local mask requirements in place, according to DHEC. The agency maintains a regularly updated map showing the counties and municipalities with mask ordinances on its website.

“This new data shows us what we already knew: Wearing face masks works,” state epidemiologist state epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said in a news release. “We’re strongly supportive of these local leaders’ initiatives that are centered on protecting the health and wellbeing of their communities.”

DHEC data analysis also shows that jurisdictions with masks requirements have seen an overall decrease of 15.1% of total cases for the four weeks after requirements were implemented compared to before the requirements were put into place. That is an overall decrease of 34.6 cases per 100,000 people, according to DHEC.

During the same time frame, areas without masks requirements have seen a 30.4% overall increase in total cases and an average of increase of 24.1 cases per 100,000 people, the agency said.

“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.”

On Wednesday, DHEC announced 712 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 45 additional confirmed deaths, bringing the state’s total number of confirmed cases to 102,413 and confirmed deaths to 2,057. The percent positive of 3,627 tests reported to DHEC on Tuesday was 19.6%.

Since July 22, the federal government has required hospitals to report data to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through a new TeleTracking system, which replaces the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Healthcare Safety Network system. Hospitals report their information each day, and that same reporting is also provided to DHEC.

As of Wednesday, 1,366 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in S.C., with 333 in intensive care and 206 on ventilators.