South Carolina state, local leaders urge public to follow COVID-19 health, safety protocols

South Carolina state, local leaders urge public to follow COVID-19 health, safety protocols
State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said over the past two weeks, the state’s daily count has been at least 1,400 positive cases reported to DHEC and the statewide positivity rates remain at 20%. (Source: WYFF)

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WYFF/WCSC) - South Carolina Education Superintendent Molly Spearman and State of South Carolina Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell are urging residents to wear a mask, wash your hands and social distance.

“This is a public health crisis,” Bell said during a news conference Thursday at Michelin in Greenville.

The president and chairman of Michelin North America hosted a news conference with state leaders on the importance of following coronavirus health and safety recommendations.

Alexis Garcin said Michelin is donating 50,000 face coverings to the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The news conference followed a roundtable discussion on the importance of wearing masks and social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Not enough people are wearing masks or physically distancing and as a result our numbers in South Carolina have increased dramatically,” Bell said.

Bell said over the past two weeks the state’s daily count has been at least 1,400 positive cases reported to DHEC and the statewide positivity rates remain at 20%.

“We have a simple intervention that is available for everyone,” Bell said. “It’s the simple measure to wear a mask when you are around other people and you can’t physically distance from them by at least 6 feet.”

She said wearing a mask is the most effective intervention we have to prevent more coronavirus cases.

Bell said there is abundant evidence to show that masks work to prevent the spread of respiratory illness.

“It works, it’s available and we should be adopting it more widely,” Bell said.

Spearman spoke about the need to get students back into the classroom as safely and as soon as possible.

“The safety of your children and grandchildren is my top priority,” Spearman said. “The safety of your wives, husbands, neighbors who serve as our teachers in our schools and our staff is my top priority.”

Spearman said this is usually the happiest time of the year but said this year is filled with so much uncertainty.

“That can change if we can just do our part,” Spearman said. “Put on your mask, wash your hands, avoid crowds. And don’t be hugging like we usually do in the South. But stay back about 6 feet apart. Pretty simple. That’s what we need you to do and we need it now. "

Spearman said the Department of Education is approving the plans submitted by school districts on Friday.

She said she knows there are unique situations in each community, but the goal is five days a week for everyone as soon as possible and as safely as possible.

Earlier on Thursday, the South Carolina Department of Education posted on its Twitter account new information about how school buses would operate amid the pandemic this fall. The posts state that both students and drivers will be expected to wear masks.

“Ridership will be a maximum of 50% of standard capacity,” the posts state. “Buses will be loaded back to front. Roof vents and windows will be open to maximize ventilation.”

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