Health leader: Fully-vaccinated South Carolinians can go without masks in most situations

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 1:15 PM EDT
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YORK COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - Health leaders say fully-vaccinated South Carolinians can now go without masks in most situations.

The Director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), Dr. Edward Simmer, released a statement today concerning new mask guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Dr. Simmer says DHEC reviewed the science behind the CDC’s recent mask guidelines, and they agree.

Therefore, South Carolinians who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors with a few exceptions.

“As the state’s public health agency, we have a responsibility to protect the health and safety of all South Carolinians. This includes advising our residents what activities are safe for them,” Dr. Simmer said.

Citing the CDC, Dr. Simmer said people should still continue to wear masks when in schools, healthcare facilities, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and on commercial transportation.

Also, people who have weakened immune systems should consult with their physician to determine the best course of action for them.

Those who have not been fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks, socially distance, and take all other needed precautions to prevent COVID-19. This includes children, especially those in school.

Dr. Simmer says this decision is based on the latest science that say currently-approved vaccines are working.

“Over the course of the pandemic, DHEC has worked with our federal partners and others to regularly monitor and review the latest data and science to support us in providing informed guidance and making decisions. We are highly encouraged and excited by this news because it means that our hard work is paying off. We would in particular like to recognize our many partners, including hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and the many community organizations without which we would not be at this point,” Dr. Simmer said.

More than 1.4 million South Carolinians are now fully vaccinated.

“At the same time, we recognize that there is still much work to do in our fight against COVID-19. We still have many South Carolinians who have not had the vaccine and there is still significant spread of COVID-19 among South Carolinians who have not been vaccinated. We need to make sure every person in South Carolina has easy access to one of the very safe and effective vaccines, and reliable information on which to base their decision whether to receive the vaccine,” Dr. Simmer said. “South Carolinians have a long reputation of caring for one another, and today’s announcement is as a result of all of us caring for each other. Together we are winning the battle against COVID-19.”

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