Columbia City Council Passes Ordinance No.: 2020-059 – Requiring Face Coverings or Masks Be Worn in Public in The City of Columbia
Sometimes emergency circumstances are so overwhelming we must think of ourselves as a collective first and as individuals second. And because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its continued accelerated spread through our Midlands communities, there is no doubt or discussion that we are in such overwhelming emergency circumstances. According to SC DHEC, our state is averaging 1,000 new cases of the virus every day, with no signs of slowing or abating.
Speaking to our emergency City Council meeting on Tuesday, SC State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell cited: “We have seen that 42% of all cases reported since March have occurred in the last two weeks.” Dr. Bell was quick to add that “with no vaccine available, all we have is the ability to reduce exposure to the virus. Masks and social distancing, or as we now like to say, physical distancing, do work in reducing exposure and in slowing the spread of the virus.”
So as Dr. Bell stresses, with case rates, hospitalizations and COVID-related deaths increasing dramatically, our efforts must now concentrate on reducing exposure. Across the country and across the world, there is ample, conclusive evidence that wearing protective face masks greatly reduces the transmission of the airborne particles causing the spread of the virus.
These are difficult and challenging times. Purposed with maintaining and ensuring our City’s well-being and public health, Columbia City Council’s one True North must remain the preservation of human life. As such, Councilmember Howard Duvall introduced Ordinance No.: 2020-059 – Emergency Ordinance Requiring that Face Coverings or Masks Be Worn in Public in The City of Columbia During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and Recovery, and the ordinance was passed in our emergency City Council session on Tuesday, June 24.
In anticipation of questions many of our Columbia citizens will have about the ordinance, we have prepared these Frequently Asked Questions.
The entire ordinance will soon be posted and can be read here: Ordinance No.: 2020-059
This decision was not taken lightly by members of our City Council or myself. As we watched other major municipalities enact their own mandatory mask policies throughout the last few weeks, we have been in touch with our Midlands community to gain a thorough understanding of how they felt on this issue. For myself, the overwhelming response from the public has been in support of requiring everyone to wear masks to reduce the spread of the virus.
The City of Columbia will work to ensure that masks are readily available to our citizens, and will distribute as many as possible. Visit https://resilient.columbiasc.gov/ where we will soon have information where the City will provide masks for our citizens.
It’s time we all come together to finally overcome this pandemic. There is a very clear and very defined purpose ahead of us all: do the right thing for our community by wearing a mask when in public.
With my greatest thanks,
Stay Safe – Wear Your Masks – Stay Resilient
Mayor Steve Benjamin