South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) believes no educator should force children to cover their nose and mouth on Aug. 9.
McMaster described mask mandates for children as the wrong approach to fighting COVID-19, even though the Delta strain is more infectious.
“The new variant, the Delta there, it does pose a real threat,” he said in a video shared on YouTube. “Shutting our state down, closing schools, and masking children who have no choice–for the government to mask children who have no choice to protect adults who do have a choice–is the wrong thing to do, and we are not going to do it.”
The governor shared his Florida counterpart’s view that parents should have the final say on whether their children wear a face mask. He also echoed concerns from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) that personal responsibility and common sense are enough to reduce the number of COVID-19 infections.
“Is that [mask mandate] necessary to do that, to take that step?” McMaster can be heard saying. “We believe it is not necessary to take that step and that is why the legislature passed that law.”
U.S. News reported a state budget provision took effect on July 1, demanding that South Carolina educational institutions be barred from using appropriated funds to enforce mask mandates.
Shutting our state down, closing schools, and masking children who do not have a choice, to protect adults who do have a choice, is the wrong thing to do and we are not going to do it in South Carolina. pic.twitter.com/HXLYVdxdvt— Gov. Henry McMaster (@henrymcmaster) August 9, 2021
The remarks came after Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin (D) declared a state of emergency, and made face masks compulsory for students aged under 14 according to Fox28 Savanna.
The Republican governor separately encouraged more South Carolinians to get vaccinated, and promised three experimental vaccines would quickly help people return to face-to-face learning and football matches.
“If you are going to get a vaccination, now is a great time to do it while we are getting ready for the fall,” he said according to the broadcaster. “I have been vaccinated, I have believed that it works, [and] studies show that all of the vaccines–all three–are highly effective against COVID and the new variant.”
New York Times tracker data shows 41% of the Palmetto State population is fully vaccinated. At least 48% have received at least one dose.
In late June South Carolina had less than 100 infections a day but the figure skyrocketed during the following month. The state reported a seven-day average of 2,311 new cases on Aug. 9.