COLUMBIA, S.C. — Today, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) shared updated data that shows communities with mask requirement ordinances in place continue to see a slower rate of disease spread compared to communities without mask requirements.

“The data continues to reinforce what we’ve already known about proper wearing of masks and their success in helping to stop the spread of this deadly virus,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC physician. “Wearing a mask every day in public is critical, however, not all face coverings provide the same protection. A recent study by Duke University shows that neck gaiters may be among the least effective types of face coverings for preventing the spread of respiratory droplets.”

Neck gaiters are circular fabric tubes designed to be slipped on over the head, worn around the neck and pulled up over the mouth and nose. The Duke University study observed a high respiratory droplet count that passed through the neck gaiter tested in the study, although it is important to note that the effectiveness of neck gaiters can depend on the quality of material they’re made from.

“A close-fitting face mask can be made from common household fabrics and can be very effective in preventing spread of the virus while also providing comfort and breathability,” Traxler said. “We should regularly wash our reusable masks and properly dispose of temporary-use masks when they begin to show signs of wear.”

While surgical grade N95 respirators provide the highest level of protection against the COVID-19, a close-fitting cloth mask made of cotton, polyester, polypropylene or cellulose can provide the best protection and the most breathability. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend masks that have an exhalation valve or vent.

Learn more about face masks and see a video for making one at home at scdhec.gov/COVID19.

On August 12, DHEC released the initial findings of its data analysis of the counties and municipalities that have implemented mask requirements for individuals when in public as a protection measure against COVID-19. The South Carolina Emergency Management Division provides a map showing the counties and municipalities that currently have mask requirements in place, which is available on the home page of scemd.org.

DHEC’s updated data indicates:

Nearly 40 percent of residents, or approximately 2,000,000 South Carolinians, reside in jurisdictions that have local mask requirements in place.

When comparing the jurisdictions that have mask requirements in place to those that don't, the jurisdictions with mask requirements have shown a 44.2 percent greater decrease in the total number of cases during the four five weeks after the requirements were implemented.

Those jurisdictions with mask requirements in place have seen an overall decrease of 43 percent of total cases for the five weeks after the requirements were implemented compared to before the requirements were in place. This is an overall decrease of 99.2 cases per 100,000 people from before the mask requirements to after.

Jurisdictions without mask requirements have experienced an overall increase in total cases of 1.2 percent when compared to jurisdictions with a mask requirement in place.

Daily COVID-19 Update (August 25, 2020)

DHEC today announced 909 new confirmed cases and 19 new probable cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, 18 additional confirmed deaths and 2 probable deaths.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases to 112,088, probable cases to 1,400, confirmed deaths to 2,408, and 121 probable deaths.

Confirmed and probable cases: please click here.

Confirmed and probable deaths: please click here.

More Than 260 Mobile Testing Clinics Scheduled Statewide

Testing for COVID-19 is essential because it helps identify people who are infected with the virus, whether or not they have symptoms, so they can isolate themselves and keep those around them from becoming infected, especially at-risk individuals who can develop life-threatening illness if they contract the virus. Identifying those with COVID-19 who have symptoms helps ensure they receive the medical treatment they need.

DHEC is working with community partners to set up mobile testing clinics and make testing available in communities across the state. Currently, there are 265 mobile testing events scheduled through October 17 with new testing events added regularly. Find a mobile testing clinic event near you at scdhec.gov/covid19mobileclinics.

Residents can visit scdhec.gov/covid19testing for information about getting tested at one of 224 permanent COVID-19 testing facilities across the state.

Testing in South Carolina

As of yesterday, a total of 968,583 tests have been conducted in the state. See a detailed breakdown of tests in South Carolina on the Data and Projections webpage. DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory is operating extended hours and is testing specimens seven days a week, and the Public Health Laboratory’s current timeframe for providing results to health care providers is 24-48 hours

Percent Positive

The total number of individual test results reported to DHEC yesterday statewide was 5,226 (not including antibody tests) and the percent positive was 17.4%.

Hospital Bed Occupancy

Since July 22, the federal government has required hospitals nationwide to report data directly to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through a new TeleTracking system, which replaces the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s National Healthcare Safety Network system that had been used initially by hospitals for reporting COVID-19 data.

Hospitals report their information each day to HHS by way of TeleTracking, and that same reporting is also provided to DHEC. Click here to view data from today's TeleTracking report.

COVID-19 Information

For the latest information related to COVID-19 visit scdhec.gov/COVID-19. Visit scdmh.net for stress, anxiety and mental health resources from the S.C. Department of Mental Health.

*As new information is provided to the department, some changes in cases may occur. Cases are reported based on the person’s county of residence, as it is provided to the department. DHEC’s COVID-19 map will adjust to reflect any reclassified cases.