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Lancaster County high school student dies of COVID-19, coroner says

The teen died Thursday of complications from COVID-19, the county coroner said.

LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. — Lancaster County officials confirmed Friday that a 16-year-old teen died from COVID-19. 

Lancaster County Chief Deputy Coroner Jennifer Collins said the teen died on Thursday, Aug. 12 from coronavirus. The teen's age prevented Collins from identifying the teen.

WCNC Charlotte reached out to the Lancaster County School District to see if the teen was a student. The district confirmed the teen was a student at Andrew Jackson High School and offered this statement:

We are saddened to learn of the passing of a 16-year-old Andrew Jackson High student from COVID complications. Counselors are available to staff and will also be available to students on the first day of school, Monday, August 16, and through the week. The district continues to follow guidance from the CDC and SC DHEC. It is the district’s priority to keep students safe. Our thoughts and prayers are with the student’s family.

On Friday, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported 3,585 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 15 new deaths. So far, 8,847 people have died from COVID-19, according to DHEC data. Since the beginning of the pandemic, DHEC says at least 10 people under the age of 20 have died of COVID-19.

The CDC has previously reported the delta variant of COVID-19 spreads more quickly and easily than others, and it has a shorter incubation period. That means people infected with the delta variant of the virus are contagious earlier and could infect others even before they know they're sick.

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This death comes less than a week before most South Carolina schools start class. Under current state law, individual districts are not permitted to mandate face masks. Attorney General Alan Wilson said earlier this week that a mandate by the city of Columbia was in violation of state law and the city could face consequences. 

Gov. Henry McMaster said the law is "crystal clear" that state funds will not be used to enforce mask mandates

“South Carolina's economy must remain open, schools must remain open, parents cannot stay home with children all day," the governor said. "If parents want their children to wear masks, it is up to the parent.”

RELATED: 'Mandating masks is not the answer': McMaster urges vaccinations, opposes mask requirements

Wilson said the mandate violates a budget proviso passed by state lawmakers in June. He said it was lawmakers' intent to ban the mandating of masks, based on a "plain reading" of the clause. 

“No school district, or any of its schools, may use any funds appropriated or authorized pursuant to this act to require that its students and/or employees wear a facemask at any of its education facilities.” the proviso reads.

RELATED: SC attorney general says Columbia school mask mandate is illegal

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