South Carolina Senate Democrats Call on Governor McMaster to Take Statewide COVID-19 Action
Today the South Carolina Senate Democrats held their annual organizational meeting virtually. After discussion, they released the following statement regarding COVID-19 and Governor McMaster’s lack of action:
“The number of COVID-19 cases in South Carolina are rising, once again, at an incredibly alarming rate. The strain on our healthcare system is becoming evident as critical bedspace in our hospitals fills. Now more than ever, we must take action in order to save the lives of South Carolinians from this virus. According to data from DHEC, nearly a quarter of a million people in our state have contracted COVID-19 since the start of this pandemic. Nearly 5,000 of our own are dead. We cannot continue to sit back and allow this to happen.
“The South Carolina Senate Democrats are calling on Governor McMaster to instate a 60-day statewide mask mandate. Scientific evidence and guidance provided by medical experts show that wearing masks can effectively mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The powers granted to the Governor during this time of emergency allow him to mandate this. He can, without a doubt, spare vulnerable lives if he chooses to exercise this power. This is long overdue, but we are asking him to take immediate action now.
“We would like to recognize and show our sincere gratitude for the many cities and municipalities across our state that have met this moment and established their own mask mandates. The leadership of these mayors and city councils has saved lives. When our elected officials choose to believe science and take decisive action during difficult times, the people they represent are ultimately safer. To those elected officials— thank you for choosing to do what is right.
“Another cause for our alarm is the glaring gap in leadership among our state’s health agencies. It is deeply concerning to us that, during a pandemic, Governor McMaster does not feel compelled to quickly fill the Director roles at DHEC or DHHS. These two agencies play critical roles in our state’s COVID-19 response. We are also calling on the Governor to promptly fill these two Director positions. Too much is at stake. We absolutely need qualified, permanent leadership steering the actions of DHEC and DHHS.
“Should Governor McMaster continue his refusal to take action, our colleague State Senator Kevin Johnson (D-Clarendon) is prepared with a Joint Resolution which he will bring before the Senate as soon as we return to session. This Joint Resolution will require, by law, the wearing of masks in South Carolina to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as outlined by CDC guidance. While we hope the Governor will rise to the occasion and choose to exercise his power to mandate masks, we stand ready to take action into our own hands and support Senator Johnson’s Joint Resolution.
“These demands do not come lightly. People across South Carolina will continue to suffer if Governor McMaster does not act quickly. We will continue to fight for our constituents, and to prevent further tragedy.”