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Masks become optional in Charleston County buildings for SC's fully vaccinated residents

James Island Library (copy)

Not long after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines around mask-wearing for fully vaccinated people, Charleston County changed its rules for its public buildings, including the county library. File/Brad Nettles/Staff

Not long after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines around mask-wearing for fully vaccinated people, Charleston County has decided to change its requirements for face coverings inside its public buildings. 

The CDC announced May 13 that anyone two weeks past their final dose of one of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines can safely unmask both indoors and outdoors, except in a few circumstances. 

In response, Charleston County announced that beginning May 18 masks will be optional, but encouraged, on its property for both residents and employees. That includes the libraries.

Exceptions to the county's rule include all courtrooms and the Judicial Center. A spokeswoman said the county's employees will not be asking to verify people's vaccination status.

Thirty-five percent of South Carolina residents age 12 and older are fully vaccinated, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Statewide numbers

New cases reported: 112 confirmed, 46 probable.

Total cases in S.C.: 99,934 confirmed, 489,164 probable.

Percent positive: 3.7 percent.

New deaths reported: 2 confirmed, 0 probable.

Total deaths in S.C.: 8,502 confirmed, 1,154 probable. 

Percent of ICU beds filled: 68 percent.

How S.C. ranks

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South Carolina ranks 42nd in the nation regarding the number of vaccines administered per 100,000 people as of May 17, according to the CDC.

Hardest-hit areas

In the total number of newly confirmed cases, Greenville County (16), York County (14) and Anderson County (12) saw the highest totals. 

What about tri-county?

Charleston County had five new cases on May 18, while Berkeley County had three and Dorchester County had one.

Deaths

Of the two deaths confirmed May 18, one person was between 18 and 34 years old, and one was 65 or older.

Hospitalizations

Of the 319 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of May 18, 94 were in the ICU and 40 were using ventilators.

What do experts say?

In an effort to encourage more people to get vaccinated, DHEC and South Carolina Educational Television are holding a live town hall at 7 p.m. May 20.

It will air statewide, DHEC announced, and will stream from scetv.org and SCETV's YouTube and Facebook pages.

"This televised conversation is an opportunity for South Carolinians to hear directly from and ask questions to public health experts, medical professionals and community leaders about the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines," DHEC said in a statement.

Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-607-4312. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.

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