(FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – South Carolina’s top disease specialist says the state is heading in the wrong direction when it comes to COVID-19 spread. Speaking to reporters this week, State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell, sounded the alarm.
“I have never been more concerned about the health of our state than I am today,” Bell said.
South Carolina’s vaccination rate remains below the national average. The state legislature has also passed a law banning local school districts and cities from instituting mask mandates.
The battle over masks is playing out right now in the state’s capital city. Columbia has instituted a mask mandate after declaring a State of Emergency.
The Attorney General has called that mandate illegal. Some observers believe it could ultimately end up in court.
“I believe that any business, or school district that wants to do it, then they should do it. It shouldn’t be against the law,” said resident Tracey Hornsby.
“I think we have to rely on scientists. And do what they recommend and then go from there. We’re never gonna end this thing if we don’t take care of ourselves and do what’s right.”
On Monday, thousands of kids in South Carolina will head back to class. Having unmasked students and staff could be a dangerous mix, according to Bell.
“I’m greatly concerned that this school year could be a perfect storm of disease spread,” said Bell.
“Some in our nation and in our state are making choices now that are causing us to lose a battle against an infectious disease that we have the tools to prevent.”
Governor Henry McMaster has doubled down on the state’s ban on mask mandates. This week, the governor said the law is meant to keep the economy and schools open during the pandemic.
“It seems to many of us that it’s not right that a child, who has no voice, should be required to wear a mask to protect adults who certainly do have a voice,” said McMaster.
One of the men vying to run against McMaster, former Democratic U.S. Congressman Joe Cunningham, has called on state leaders to reverse the ban.
“The sign of a true leader is the ability to admit when you are wrong,” Cunningham said in a statement.
“The governor and the legislature simply got this wrong and it’s time for them to swallow their pride and fix their mistake before we put thousands of innocent children in harm’s way next week.”