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City of Columbia to consider requiring masks be worn

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The city of Columbia is considering an emergency ordinance that would require masks or face coverings to be worn in public inside city limits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, as S.C. announced a single-day record of 987 new cases, state epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell urged residents to take precautions.

"Every one of us has role to play in stopping COVID-19," Bell said. "This virus does not spread on its own. ... By not following public health precautions, many are putting all at risk.

"It is essential that each of us, every day, wear a mask in public and stay physically distanced from others."

Members of the public can provide feedback on the mask ordinance during Tuesday’s online meeting by dialing 855-925-2801. When prompted, enter the meeting code 9299. Press 1 to listen, 2 to leave a message or 3 to join the speaker queue.

To address the council, callers should state their name and address. Each caller will have three minutes to speak, after which each line will be muted. Callers may remain on the line until the meeting adjourns.

The ordinance (.pdf) notes that as of June 15, 2,215 of S.C.’s confirmed 18,795 COVID-19 cases were in Richland County, where 72 of the state’s 600 deaths had occurred.

As of Wednesday, 2,446 cases had been confirmed in Richland County, according to DHEC.

Thursday's totals incldued nine new probable cases and four additional deaths. The state's COVID-19 count now stands at 21,533 confirmed cases, 15 probable cases, and 621 confirmed deaths.

The ordinance would require a mask or face covering to be worn by every person above the age of 10 when inside a public building, waiting to enter a public building, interacting with others in outdoor spaces, engaging in business activities in private spaces, utilizing or providing public transportation, or walking in public when maintaining a distance of six feet is not possible.

Masks or face coverings would not be required in personal vehicles; during outdoor physical activity when six feet of distance is maintained; when a person is alone or with other household members; while eating, drinking or smoking; or when wearing a mask or face covering would cause or aggravate a health condition.

For more information, visit www.columbiacity.sc.iqm2.com or contact the city clerk at 803-545-3045 or cityclerk@columbiasc.gov.

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