Sen. Graham urges SC residents to wear a mask during COVID-19 pandemic

Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks to the media following a meeting with the South Carolina Hospital...
Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks to the media following a meeting with the South Carolina Hospital Association on July 14, 2020.((Source: WIS))
Updated: Jul. 14, 2020 at 6:34 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - After a meeting with the South Carolina Hospital Association regarding their needs amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Lindsey Graham called what he learned an eye-opener.

Graham said he learned the trends that are happening in the state during the pandemic from hospital administrators and ultimately came away with one clear message for citizens across the state.

Graham is expected to speak with reporters following his meeting.

“I think all of us should do what we can to take the burden off these doctors and nurses and frontline workers,” Sen. Graham said Tuesday morning. “What can we do? Everybody on this phone call said that if you would wear a mask when you’re around other people, wash your hands, and practice social distancing, it would have a dramatic impact for the good.”

Although Sen. Graham urged citizens to wear a mask, the U.S. Senator stopped short of supporting a statewide mask mandate.

“Well, if you mandate masks, how do you enforce it?' Graham asked. “I don’t think you’re going to have the mask police go around and write everybody a ticket, but the more you can emphasize wearing masks, the better. The data seems to suggest that states who are aggressive in masking are doing better than those who are not. We’ll leave this up to the governor and the cities, but I’ve come away believing three simple things can take a load off hospitals and healthcare providers -- masking when you’re around others, washing your hands, and social distancing.”

South Carolina has seen a drastic increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases after some restrictions across the state were lifted. With that, there have also been concerns about citizens not wearing masks to help slow the spread of the virus. Sen. Graham asked citizens to make the necessary sacrifice to help decrease the spread of COVID-19.

“We’re in a fight and the only way we’re going to win this war is to get a vaccine. Between now and then, which could be the end of the year or the first part of next year, we’re just going to all have to roll up our sleeves. Congress is going to have to appropriate more money to keep the hospitals from going under and every American and every South Carolinian is in this fight. So, do your part. And here’s the good news. Nobody’s asking you to go to Afghanistan and get shot. Just asking you to use common sense. The good news is this is a war where we can affect the outcome by small sacrifices.”

Sen. Graham said the Memorial Day weekend was a “disaster” in South Carolina. He said when he heads back to Washington, he’s going to focus his efforts on making sure hospitals in the state have what they need to keep fighting the virus.

“The testing is moving forward, but we are running into slowdowns because of the lack of supply and reagents,” said SC Hospital Association CEO Thornton Kirby.

Sen. Graham added he would like to incentivize pooled testing to help cut down on the use of testing reagents that are in high demand. Pooled testing is when you combine samples from multiple specimens and test them at the same time.

Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Jaime Harrison commented on Graham’s plans for coronavirus relief. He sent us this statement:

“I grew up poor and know what it’s like to be up all night thinking about how to pay that incoming rent bill. Many South Carolinians have still not received the $1,200 relief checks they were promised, and just weeks ago, Lindsey Graham said ‘over our dead bodies’ would he give thousands of South Carolinians statewide unemployment relief. We need leaders in Washington who will put the political games aside and make it their number one priority to help South Carolinians weather this crisis.”

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