masks covid19
Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Time to get the masks back out.

South Carolina health officials, following newly updated federal guidance, are now urging vaccinated people in the state to wear masks indoors and in public settings in areas with substantial and high transmission, like South Carolina.

Unvaccinated people are still urged to continue mask-wearing.

The announcement from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) came from the federal Centers for Disease Control Tuesday as case numbers surge and vaccination rates stall in S.C. and other states.

“As a virus spreads, it mutates into more contagious forms, which explains the rise of the Delta variant,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC’s public health director. “We were hoping to reach herd immunity to stifle the spread of COVID-19 to prevent this scenario, but public health urgency now makes it necessary to return to recommending universal masking in public indoor settings.”

CDC’s guidance also urged all students, teachers and those visiting K-12 schools to wear masks, but DHEC noted South Carolina law has barred local districts from mandating masks in public schools.

South Carolina recorded 827 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the highest single-day total since mid-April. Just over 50% of eligible South Carolina residents are fully vaccinated. Charleston County has the highest rate in the state, at 57.8%.