Man wearing mask in grocery store
Young woman showing her mask
Woman in mask reaching for produce in grocery store

Wear a mask. Slow the Spread.

Together, we can do this.

Our compassion lies in forgoing our own comfort out of concern for our friends, family and neighbors. Together, we will sacrifice convenience for the safety of all South Carolinians. Each of us can help slow the spread of COVID-19. #SlowtheSpreadSC

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Rumor vs. Real

Debunking the myths around COVID-19 with real facts.

Rumor: Once you have COVID-19 and recover from it, you can’t catch it again.

Real: Cases of reinfection of COVID-19 have been reported but are rare.

According to the CDC, reinfection means a person was infected (got sick) once, recovered, and then later became infected again. Based on what we know from similar viruses, we can expect some reinfections. That’s why it’s important for people who’ve had COVID-19 or are around people who have had COVID-19 to continue to practice safety measures like wearing a mask, frequent hand-washing and social distancing.
Read More: CDC

Rumor: Disposable masks should be worn white-side-out.

Real: Disposable masks should always be worn color-side-out.

Medical experts say disposable face masks should always be worn with the wired edge upward and colorful side outward. The blue fabric on the outside of these masks is waterproof while the white fabric on the inside is absorbent. Mask users should also carefully dispose of such masks after each use.
Read More: USA Today

Rumor: Wearing a mask will reduce your body’s oxygen level.

Real: There is no evidence that low oxygen levels occur when wearing a mask.

People with preexisting lung problems should discuss mask wearing concerns with their health care providers, as there is some evidence that prolonged use of N-95 masks may cause a build-up of carbon dioxide levels in the body. However, the N-95 masks should be reserved for use by health care professionals.
Read More: American Lung Association

Rumor: Wearing a mask won’t keep me from getting COVID-19.

Real: According to the CDC, wearing a cloth mask can protect you as well as the people you come in contact with by decreasing the risk of spreading the infection.

In its Scientific Brief: Community Use of Cloth Masks to Control the Spread of SARS-CoV-2 released on Nov. 10, 2020, the CDC confirms that wearing a mask offers some protection to you” to “In its Scientific Brief: Community Use of Cloth Masks to Control the Spread of SARS-CoV-2 released on Nov. 10, 2020, the CDC confirms that wearing a mask offers protection to you”?  I just got rid of the word “some” – I don’t want to overplay the report, but there were early observational studies that suggested the decrease in risk to the wearer by as much as 70%.

Wearing a mask to protect others is also important, because many people with COVID-19 do not know they have the virus. We also know that widespread use of face masks can reduce community transmission to a more manageable level that won’t overwhelm hospitals. Routine use of masks, along with social distancing, can offer a way to reopen the economy and help keep it open. That’s why everyone should wear a mask in public, practice social distancing, avoid large crowds and wash their hands often.
Read More: CDC

Rumor: If you wear a mask, it’s safe to be around large numbers of people.

Real: Wearing a mask helps protect the people around you. But to protect yourself, you still need to practice social distancing.

So avoid places with large crowds of people. When you do go out, stay at least six feet away from someone else. Avoid going to places — such as restaurants, retail stores, pharmacies and grocery stores — that don’t follow recommended guidelines such as social distancing and frequent cleanings. Stay home if you can. And don’t forget to wash your hands!
Read More: CDC

Rumor: Only older adults get really sick from COVID-19.

Real: According to the CDC, pregnant women and people — including older adults — who have certain conditions seem to be at higher risk for developing serious complications from COVID-19; recent upticks in cases also show the illness is spreading to younger adults.

Also, because COVID-19 is a new disease, it’s also unclear if it may have any long-term effects. So everyone needs to take precautions to protect themselves and each other.
Read More: CDC

Rumor: The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to wash your hands often.

Real: The best way to protect yourself from any illness, including COVID-19, is to avoid being exposed to it.

There are several ways to do this. Washing your hands is one way — along with keeping them away and off your face! But you should also wear a mask and practice social distancing. Avoid large crowds or places where people gather. Stay home if you can! Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Monitor your own health and be alert for any symptoms.
Read More: CDC

Rumor: We need to just let COVID-19 runs its course and let us develop “herd immunity.”

Real: Allowing the illness to spread could put a strain on our hospitals and healthcare systems — which could make it harder for anyone who needs these services to get them.

Also, we don’t know if this illness will cause any long-term effects, even after a person appears to have recovered from it. We also don’t know if you can get it again after having it once. Because COVID-19 is a new illness, there is much we still need to learn about it.
Read More: WebMD

Rumor: Local governments cannot require people to wear masks; it violates our state’s constitution.

Real: The state’s Attorney General stated that our state’s constitution and laws give cities the authority to pass these types of ordinances under the doctrine of Home Rule.

For further information, you can see the statement from Attorney General Alan Wilson released on June 24, 2020:

Rumor: There is a South Carolina law that says people are not allowed to wear masks in public.

Real: The state’s Attorney General has held the law being referenced (Section 16-7-110) does not apply to a public health emergency.

For further information, you can see the statement from Attorney General Alan Wilson released on June 24, 2020:

Rumor: People with concealed weapon permits (CWP) may not wear masks while they are carrying their guns.

Real: There is no such law in South Carolina.

Please note that CWP laws are different in every state, so if you are traveling outside of South Carolina, you should check the laws of that state to see if you can wear a mask while carrying a gun.

Rumor: OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) says people shouldn’t wear face masks.

Real: On its own website, OSHA states that “OSHA generally recommends that employers encourage workers to wear face coverings at work.”

For more information about OSHA and COVID-19, you can read its FAQ at

Risk levels when using and not using a mask

When you wear your mask, you are protecting others – sacrificing convenience for the safety of our communities. 

I wear a mask because:

Use your voice in sharing a personal story of why you wear a mask by sending us a video or a photo. Use the hashtag #SlowtheSpreadSC when sharing on social.

Together, our voices will combine to help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 across the state.

Step 1: Fill out form and submit

Step 2: Upload video or photo

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More ways to stay safe

This is a new disease, but there is growing medical evidence that wearing face masks along with handwashing, social distancing, testing and isolation can successfully limit the spread of the virus.

Staying safe in 5 steps: Wear a mask
Staying safe in 5 steps: Wash your hands
Staying safe in 5 steps: Social distancing
Staying safe in 5 steps: Get yourself tested
Staying safe in 5 steps: Stay at home

What we know

COVID-19 primarily spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets from infected persons when they cough, sneeze or even speak.

Respiratory droplets can travel as many as 6 feet or more depending on air currents.

Many people may get the virus but not have any symptoms. Even when symptoms do occur, it can take up to 14 days for them to appear.

This means that anyone can spread the virus without knowing it, which is unsafe, particularly for older adults and people with other health issues. Wearing a face mask in public helps protect the health of your community — including the health of your own family members and friends as it may keep you from unknowingly and unintentionally spreading the virus to others. Of course, face coverings should not be placed on children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without help.

Wearing a face mask is also not a replacement for social distancing or other preventive measures. You should continue to practice social distancing, wash your hands and stay home if you are ill.

Joining Together

Every day we see reports of COVID-19’s impact on the people of South Carolina. We have watched these numbers closely, and we are concerned about the health and safety of our citizens. All of us can help.

As leaders of the health community here in South Carolina, the South Carolina Medical Association, the South Carolina Hospital Association and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina all strongly encourage you to do your part in slowing the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a face mask in public.

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These organizations are also helping to slow the spread by encouraging everyone to wear a mask. Together, we can do this.