Below is the text of the July 2, 2020 open letter to Governor McMaster from the Alliance for a Healthier SC:

Dear Governor McMaster,

We are writing you on behalf of the Alliance for a Healthier South Carolina, a multi-sector partnership of businesses, healthcare providers, public institutions and other organizations working collectively to improve the health and well-being of our state.

We appreciate the work of accelerateSC and everything your administration is doing to get our economy moving again. As you know, the wearing of masks is now being heralded as a key strategy to salvage the U.S. economy in the face of additional lockdowns. According to recent findings from Goldman Sachs, a national mask mandate could help the U.S. avoid a 5% hit to GDP. The Alliance believes the most effective way to support the reopening of more South Carolina businesses is to promote social distancing and the wearing of masks statewide and thereby slow the spread of COVID-19. We understand your focus on urging all South Carolinians to participate and we want you to know the Alliance stands ready to help.

The Alliance works to ensure that all South Carolinians have equal access to care and equal opportunity to resources and policies that support healthy living. While several of the state’s major metropolitan areas like Charleston, Columbia and Greenville have passed mask mandates within their city limits to protect local citizens, there are many rural, unincorporated areas throughout South Carolina that will not benefit from those policies. This is yet another example of how social demographics have adversely impacted underserved communities in the fight against COVID-19.

It has been reported across the nation that low-income areas and communities of color have been hit especially hard by COVID-19, and South Carolina is no different. While African Americans make up 27% of the state’s population, reports have shown they account for more than 50% of South Carolina’s deaths from COVID-19. Statewide mask-wearing would ensure that all communities have the best available protections against this deadly virus – especially rural areas with socioeconomic challenges.

We would be happy to meet with you anytime to talk about how we can work together to improve the health of all South Carolinians. We want to work with you to encourage all South Carolinians to wear masks in public. If you know of ways we can support this effort, please let us know.

Sincerely,

Juana S. Slade, CDM                                                                Monty Robertson, MHA
Chief Diversity Officer, AnMed Health                                       Director, Alliance for a Healthier SC
Chair, Alliance for a Healthier SC