Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

Staff reports | President Joe Biden on Tuesday said it was “up to them” whether Americans want to wear masks when on public transportation like airplanes, trains and buses after a federal judge struck down the national mask mandate. 

Meanwhile, state health officials on Tuesday reported 1,521 total new cases of COVID-19, with 996 confirmed, and seven total new deaths, six of which were confirmed. As of April 18, 90 COVID-19-positive individuals are hospitalized, and nine COVID-19-positive individuals are ventilated.

The Biden administration has not officially ruled out an appeal of the ruling, as it could take the U.S. Dept. of Justice several days to decide whether or not to challenge it. 

The mixed messaging from the administration and President contributed to confusion less than a day after the ruling was handed down, as Biden’s press secretary continues to urge Americans to follow existing health guidance, and Dr. Ashish Jha, the administration’s coronavirus response coordinator, said he was disappointed by the ruling and would still be masking up on public transportation. 

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, on Tuesday said the decision should have been up to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, not a judge. 

“Public health decisions shouldn’t be made by the courts, they should be made by public health experts,” she said in a New York Times report.

After the ruling, 10 of the largest airlines in the nation said they would drop enforcement of mask requirements by early Tuesday. Ride-share services Uber and Lyft were quick to follow, lifting mask requirements for riders and drivers. 

Latest COVID-19 data

In South Carolina, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) transitioned to weekly reporting of new COVID data last month, with today’s update being the most recent of reports including data taken from April 10-16.

State health officials on Tuesday reported 1,521 total new cases of COVID-19, with 996 confirmed, and seven total new deaths, six of which were confirmed. As of April 18, 90 COVID-19-positive individuals are hospitalized, and nine COVID-19-positive individuals are ventilated.

No positivity rate was reported by DHEC.

  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ with at least one vaccine: 67.1%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ who have completed vaccination: 58%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 with at least one vaccine: 20.2%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 who have completed vaccination: 16.4%

For more information, visit the S.C. SCDHEC COVID-19 dashboard.


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