Manning passes mask ordinance which starts Monday


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MANNING — Manning city officials unanimously passed an ordinance Thursday afternoon that will require individuals in the City of Manning to wear face coverings in retail and food service establishments beginning at 8 a.m. Monday.

Council members Ervin Davis, Julius Dukes Jr., Johnny Gordon, Clayton Pack and Sherry A. Welle voted to pass the ordinance. Manning Mayor Julia A. Nelson, who doesn’t vote on council matters unless the vote is tied, said she is in total support of the ordinance.

Dr. Linda Bell, state epidemiologist with the Department of Health and Environmental Control, addressed council members and Nelson via phone Thursday afternoon to stress the importance of wearing masks in public places.

Bell told council members that since the pandemic began in April and May the demographics for people contracting the disease have changed dramatically.

“In May, most of the positive cases were found in individuals 50 years old or older,” Bell said. “Now, individuals in their late teens to mid-20s are fueling the epidemic.”

Bell said that the younger population is “less likely to have complications” from the virus.

“They might not feel sick and still be out and about,” she added. “They are also less likely to use safe distancing or wear masks.”

The problem, health officials have been citing, is that the young people who likely won’t be largely affected by the virus may pass it to older people who are at higher risk of suffering severe health complications.

According to DHEC data as of July 7, 22% of the reported cases are in the 21-30 age group, while at the onset of the pandemic the largest percentage of cases was in older populations. Deaths, however, are reported to be 65.3% in those aged 71 and older.

Bell told Nelson and the council that “the wide usage of masks is absolutely needed.”

“Masks have made dramatic differences in other areas,” she shared. “There is an abundance of evidence that masks work.”

Nelson asked Bell if the results that are released from DHEC reflect the previous day’s numbers or numbers from weeks ago.

The numbers that are reported daily are a mixture of results from 48 hours ago or up to 10 days prior, Bell added. DHEC’s lab is now reporting within 48 hours, while other labs may take as much as a week or more to release their results, she said.

Nelson said she is troubled with rumors of individuals boycotting Manning businesses if an ordinance requiring the usage of face masks is passed.

Citing more than three dozen cities and towns across the state have enacted face mask ordinances, Nelson said Manning residents wanting to boycott local businesses will need to “drive mighty far away to shop.”

Before passing the ordinance, each council member voiced support of the measure.

“Rest assured that I never take the public’s safety lightly,” Davis said. “I do think that (the ordinance) is in the best interest of Manning.”

Welle, Dukes, Gordon and Pack echoed Davis’ comments.

“I don’t think anyone wants to wear a mask,” Nelson added. “I know that I don’t, but if wearing a mask can help, then I am all for it.”

The penalty for not complying with the ordinance will be $25 for each violation; however, law enforcement officers and others who may be tasked with enforcing the ordinance will have extra masks available for individuals who cannot afford to purchase them.