By Riley Morningstar

The Journal

SENECA — A top South Carolina physician said about 40 percent of South Carolinians — or 2 million people — are living under a local mask ordinance policy.

S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) physician Dr. Brannon Traxler said effective social distancing, mask wearing and handwashing has led to a downward trend of COVID-19 cases and positivity rates in the past two weeks.

If South Carolina continues to average 1,230 COVID-19 cases a day for the month of August, there would be 13,789 fewer cases than July’s peak.

“Seeing our cases begin to trend downward should be a message to us all regarding the effectiveness of the measures being taken to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in South Carolina,” she said. “While we are not near the finish line, our trends show that what we are doing is having an impact and we need to stay the course together. … I think people banding together and doing this is starting to show a good effect.”

She also pointed to a slight decline over the past 28 days in the percent positive of cases.

Traxler said DHEC is currently analyzing local mask wearing data and would have results to share as soon as Friday. Gov. Henry McMaster has resisted issuing a statewide mask ordinance, frequently citing the challenges of enforcing such a measure.

“We’re strongly supportive of these local leaders’ initiatives that are centered on protecting the health and well-being of communities,” Traxler said in a news conference Friday afternoon. “Together, we can completely reverse our fortune and create these safe environments for our continued business recovery, lifestyle recovery and particularly for our students who are returning to school in the next few weeks, but we must act more aggressively, and now.”