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Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon tests positive for coronavirus

  • Updated

Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon announced Monday that he has tested positive for coronavirus.  

Osbon sought the test after suffering mild symptoms of the novel coronavirus late last week, according to a statement sent out Monday by the City of Aiken.

He is resting at home and will self-quarantine for 14 days from the onset of his symptoms, according to the statement. 

The mayor's announcement comes the day of Aiken City Council's meeting to discuss and vote on two ordinances that mandate the wearing of masks

Aiken City Council meets Monday for vote on mask mandate ordinances

Both ordinances mandate that residents will need to wear masks in food and retail establishments.

Due to his illness, the mayor will be unable to participate in the meeting, and state law bars council members from recording votes remotely, according to the city's statement.  

On July 2, city council passed a resolution encouraging the Aiken public to wear face coverings in enclosed public places. 

"We must do everything we can to protect each other from this virus while keeping our businesses and the economy in Aiken healthy at the same time," Osbon said. "Requiring the wearing of masks by staffers and customers in our local restaurants and retail stores is the best way we have to do both, and I fully support a clear mandate at this time. My own diagnosis with COVID-19, despite all my efforts to stay well by closely following all the guidelines from the CDC, shows just what a tough battle we're facing to remain open and operating even as the number of cases in our state and City rise dramatically. We have no choice but to act decisively, and passing a mask mandate is what I would vote to do were I able to attend tonight's meeting."

Some Council members have already taken the initiative to get tested.

Council member Ed Woltz took a coronavirus test Monday afternoon and is currently awaiting his results.

"It doesn't hurt, and [others] should get tested," Woltz said. 

Council member Andrea Gregory said she is planning on getting tested soon after receiving emails of concern from her constituents.

"I feel fine, but since they're showing concern and asking if I've been in contact with Mayor Osbon ... I'm getting tested for [my constituents'] peace of mind," Gregory said.

Gregory said the last time she was around Mayor Osbon was two weeks ago.

City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh said the last time the Aiken City Council and Osbon were together as a group was at the last council meeting.

Bedenbaugh received a coronavirus test Monday afternoon. The test came back negative. 

Sunday saw a daily record for confirmed cases in Aiken County with 62 cases, according to a daily coronavirus report by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. 

As of Sunday, the total number of cases in Aiken County was 695 confirmed cases. 

The proposed mask mandate will be discussed at the Council's 5 p.m. work session in the Municipal Building at 214 Park Ave. S.W.

If the proposal successfully reaches a Council vote, that action would take place during the regular 7 p.m. meeting.

The meetings are open to the public, but attendance in the chambers will be limited to 22 audience members at a time due to social distancing capacity restriction.

Staff reporter Shiann Sivell contributed to this article.

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