“May you live in interesting times.” There is some dispute over the origin of this particular saying but, dispute or not, we are here. The coronavirus which has been active in China over the last month has reached the US. It is serious, but manageable.
According to Brannon Traxler, MD, MPH at the Department of Heath and Environmental Control (DHEC), South Carolina is not seeing widespread transmission and four out of five people who are contracting the virus, experience mild symptoms similar to the flu. That is good news.
Nevertheless, we must all strive to defeat it. To restrict the spread of the virus, schools and restaurants have been closed, access to nursing homes limited, and gatherings postponed. These are dramatic steps and a significant inconvenience to our daily routines, but with these steps we will be able to shorten this crisis and soon return to normalcy.
In an effort to expedite that return, yesterday the SC Senate met and passed a $45 million dollar emergency response package that was requested by DHEC. These funds will be used to increase an already robust healthcare response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) threat. Specifically, it will go to increasing healthcare staffing for disease surveillance, laboratory testing, and public information. It will allow us to procure additional personal protective equipment for healthcare professionals. It will provide for quarantine services for the indigent. And it will provide DHEC with the authority to redistribute healthcare supplies to areas of need and the capability to transport.
Economically, we are looking at ways to assist businesses that are negatively affected by mandated unplanned closures. Currently, the state is loosening regulations on businesses, making available unemployment benefits to workers, and extending tax deadlines. We will continue to meet and identify appropriate responses.
This is a serious situation that is new to everyone. Personally, it is also the most fluid I have experienced in my professional and public service lifetimes. However, it is temporary. Steps are being taken across the country to mitigate both health and economic damage. We will absolutely get through this and be better for it. With that in mind, I’d like to encourage you do two things...
1. Take care of yourself and your family. Be obnoxiously over the top with personal hygiene and your expectation for hygiene of those around you. Tips
2. To the extent you can, and it is safe for you to be around others and for others to be around you, go on with life. The economy needs you.
If you have questions, I always encourage you to reach out to me directly. Until then...