By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye News
With the delta variant of the coronavirus sweeping across South Carolina, face coverings are back in style in at least three Lowcountry municipalities. On Sullivan’s Island, masks are now mandatory for Town Hall employees, except when they are at their desks, and those visiting the facility are required to cover their faces as well. On the Isle of Palms, Mayor Jimmy Carroll said he favors a return to masking inside city buildings but chose to defer to the wishes of the full Council.
The issue of masks was scheduled to be on the agenda for the Council’s Aug. 24 meeting. In Charleston, face coverings were mandatory in city buildings and facilities as of Aug. 11, while North Charleston followed suit beginning Aug. 16. Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie said the town is encouraging people to wear masks, but he doesn’t anticipate face coverings being mandatory at Town Hall and other town buildings. “I do not sense an overwhelming sentiment of our Council doing anything requiring masks on town property,” Haynie commented. “We’ve taken some steps here at Town Hall,” Sullivan’s Island Town Administrator Andy Benke told Council members at their Aug. 17 meeting. “Everybody is wearing a mask unless they’re at their desk. If you’re not vaccinated, you should probably wear a mask all the time. Just today, we posted on the door that if you come into Town Hall, you need to wear a mask.” Benke’s administrator’s report to the Council noted that no employees have tested positive for COVID-19, though two unvaccinated town workers were exposed to a person with the coronavirus. Carroll pointed out on Aug. 16 that four IOP employees were currently out with COVID-19. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced Aug. 20 that as of Aug. 18, there were 4,009 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Palmetto State, and another 1,229 probable cases. Those numbers were 298 and 148 in Charleston County.
From Aug. 11 through Aug. 18, 25 cases of COVID-19 were reported on Isle of Palms, while nine cases were confirmed on Sullivan’s Island, according to DHEC.