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Mask Up campaign aimed at reaching young adults

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A new statewide campaign is encouraging youth and young adults to embrace wearing a face covering to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s “Mask Up” initiative is aimed at two age groups that make up a combined 33% of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Carolina. Young adults between the ages of 21-30 currently make up 22% of all confirmed cases, while those ages 11-20 make up 11%, according to a news release from DHEC.

“Most of the virus spreads through the air in drops of moisture when the person contagious with the virus breaths, talks, coughs or sneezes,” Dr. Michael Kacka, DHEC physician and medical consultant, said in the release. Wearing a mask over the nose and mouth collects and traps some of those droplets and reduces the amount of virus someone puts out into the air around them. It doesn’t filter out all of the virus, however, which is why social distancing is very important along with wearing masks.

“By reducing the amount of virus put out into the air, we reduce the chances that those sharing a space will encounter enough virus to become infected.”

DHEC has created an online mask toolkit which can be shared on social media.

On Sunday, DHEC announced 2,335 new confirmed cases and one new probable case, along with 19 additional confirmed deaths. That brings S.C.’s confirmed total to 69,765 cases, 221 probable cases, 1,138 deaths and 17 probable deaths.

Sunday’s data included 526 new confirmed cases reported by a private laboratory to DHEC on July 18.

Of 12,679 individual test results reported July 18, the percent positive was 18.4%, the agency said.

Data on hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients is currently unavailable. At the federal government’s request, DHEC is transitioning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Healthcare Safety Network COVID-19 module to TeleTracking’s U.S. Healthcare COVID-19 Portal for monitoring that data.

“Once TeleTracking has sufficient participation and accuracy, DHEC will report from it,” according to a DHEC news release. “There may be incomplete data with significant gaps over the next few days.”

On July 17, DHEC and the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s State Board of Nursing issued a joint order giving nursing graduates temporary authorization to practice so they can assist health care facilities needing staffing help during the pandemic.  

Some graduates haven’t been able to their national licensing exam with testing facilities closed for several weeks, according to DHEC.

“This joint order with the State Board of Nursing is a vital step towards making sure our hospitals, clinics and health care facilities have skilled, newly trained nurses available to assist South Carolinians during this prolonged public health crisis,” Marshall Taylor, DHEC acting director, said in a news release. “Through this joint effort with the State Board of Nursing and LLR, we’re able to ensure that more help is on the way for the care and treatment of patients.” 

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