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South Carolina won’t enact mask mandate, as governor blasts health officials for ‘frightening hyperbole’ on Covid threat

Like numerous other states, South Carolina has seen its number of coronavirus cases rise dramatically in the last month, though Republican Gov. Henry McMaster claims health officials are using these upticks to make things seem worse than they are. 

“Yes, the rates are going up but they’re way below what they were a year ago,” he told Fox News on Sunday. “We have put the fire out. It’s smoldering in places and could come back up, but the house is not on fire again.”

Over 50% of South Carolina adults have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine thus far, though local health officials have for weeks been raising concerns about dwindling vaccination rates in the face of the delta variant. Cities such as Los Angeles and Las Vegas have seen a return of mask mandates this summer, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already flipped their previous mask guidance, stating fully vaccinated individuals can avoid masking up in public. Now health officials say masking depends on the amount of cases in an area. 

Like many other Republican state leaders, McMaster has said vaccines are the best way to fight the virus, though he’s acknowledged that taking it is a personal choice and he trusts people to make the right one for themselves. 

“We’re gonna trust the people to do the right thing, we’re giving them the right information, but I believe a lot of our national experts are engaging in frightening hyperbole,” he said, adding later that the “vaccine works,” but is “not for everybody.” 

McMaster said earlier this week he has been both vaccinated and was previously infected with Covid-19, and that personally he has no plans to wear a mask in the future.

Red states like Florida and Texas have similarly publicly pushed back against the potential of bringing back mandates, as well as against vaccine mandates. 

Gov. McMaster has also joined other Republicans in pushing back against CDC guidance recommending that students in school should be wearing masks, regardless of their vaccination status. State lawmakers previously passed legislation stipulating no allocated funds can be used by schools in the state to mandate masks, something McMaster said he remains “steadfastly committed” to, even after the CDC’s updated guidance.

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