West Columbia extends mask ordinance for 60 days

The City of West Columbia voted, at a special meeting Wednesday, to extend the Emergency Ordinance to Suspend the Normal Operating Procedures of West Columbia City Council Meetings.

Council also voted to extend the Emergency Ordinance to Require Face Coverings.

Both motions passed unanimously during the virtual meeting. They will expire on March 2.

Councilman Mike Green asked if there is some percentage at which the restrictions will be lifted. Mayor Tem miles said there is not a specific litmus test.

Councilman Jimmy Brooks said maybe council should look to other municipalities to see what they are doing three months from now.

City Administrator Brian Carter said DHEC data shows that West Columbia ZIP code COVID positive cases increased by 32 percent in November compared to October. He also said the jump in December in positive cases was 47 percent. That increase was about 20 percent lower than increases in other ZIP code areas in Lexington County. Carter also said he has corresponded with Lexington Medical Center officials, and the hospital has been admitting more patients with COVID recently.

During discussion, Green, who voted to extend the mask ordinance, said there are many variables such as age, where COVID data is involved. He also said numbers have gone up and down, regardless of the mask ordinance.

“I just don’t know how much longer we can continue on this path,” Green said. He also said science is not certain that masks help. Councilman Mickey Pringle said scientists say masks work. Pringle also said he is concerned that there is a new strain of COVID.

Councilman Jimmy Brooks said he has seen the mask ordinance being ignored at some public places, and he asked if the city needs to enforce the rule more.

Carter said police officers have investigated non-compliance and issued tickets.