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Hilton Head Officials Consider Face Mask Ordinance After Recent Surge In COVID-19 Cases

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Facing mounting public pressure from the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, Hilton Head Island officials have announced that they are considering an ordinance requiring face masks, according to a recent press release from the town.

“Hilton Head Island Mayor John McCann has called a special Town Council meeting for 8:30 a.m. Monday, June 29, to consider an ordinance requiring that face masks or face coverings be worn in certain areas on the island,” the town of Hilton Head’s press release said.

The press release did not specify which areas of the island face masks would be required.

“I have been encouraged by Town Council members to pursue a law mandating that face masks be worn,” McCann said in the release. “I believe it will help ease fears among the residents of our community about contracting the coronavirus and how it’s being spread and I fully anticipate the Town Council adopting something along these lines.”

In the last four weeks, COVID-19 cases on Hilton Head Island — a town with 39,000 residents and more than 2.5 million annual visitors — have skyrocketed.

Just one month ago, on the Friday before Memorial Day — the official start of tourism season on the island — Hilton Head Island only had 35 confirmed COVID-19 cases. By Wednesday, 200 Hilton Head residents had tested positive.

Mask ordinances have been passed by Columbia and Greenville, S.C. (among other municipalities) in recent days as confirmed coronavirus cases have surged across the state. City of Charleston officials are expected to vote on a mask ordinance today, Live 5 News reported.

Yesterday, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said the ordinances were legal and enforceable.

“With the legal opinion from the state’s Attorney General’s office, I feel it’s crucial for Town Council to discuss this type of ordinance to protect our residents and help stop the spread of the virus.”

You can watch the meeting Monday on the Town’s main Facebook page or on the town’s website.

Rising cases

As we reported earlier this week — COVID-19 cases on Hilton Head Island have surged, and particularly hit the hospitality industry.

Responding to the spike in cases among hospitality workers, several restaurants have shuttered. In the last week: Mixx on Main, Tio’s Latin American KitchenCool Cats LoungeMain Street CafeLucky Rooster, and Dry Dock all closed temporarily as a preventative measure to keep their teams safe from the virus.

Hilton Head is in a unique and vulnerable position in the COVID-19 pandemic.

About one-third of its 39,000 residents are over 65.

Among those under 65, a majority of Hilton Head’s workforce is in the hospitality industry where workers are exposed to contacting hundreds of people every day and heavily depend on the tourism industry for their livelihood, especially during the summer months.

The Hilton Head Island region is one of the most vulnerable areas in the United States for hospitals being overwhelmed by a COVID-19 outbreak, according to a news analysis by Five Thirty Eight

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Mandy Matney

Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an award-winning journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Want to contact Mandy? Send your story ideas, comments, suggestions and tips to [email protected].

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