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Cayce could be among SC's first cities to designate a COVID-19 Memorial Day

John A. Carlos II (copy)

Cayce Mayor Elise Partin speaks outside Cayce City Hall in 2020 to hundreds gathered at a community candlelight vigil held for Faye Swetlik, a 6-year-old girl killed by a neighbor. File/John A. Carlos II/Special to The Post and Courier

COLUMBIA — The city of Cayce plans to be among the first cities in the state to designate a day to recognize people who have died and others affected by the COVID-19 virus that has upended daily life.

A resolution being considered Feb. 17 by City Council will designate the first Monday in March as COVID-19 Memorial Day. The day will be held "in remembrance of those who have lost their lives and in honor of those who are forever marked by COVID and continue to suffer from the impact of this virus," the resolution reads.

"For us it's just an opportunity to highlight really the importance of what we're still going through," Cayce Mayor Elise Partin told The Post and Courier. "It's hard — people have done a great job of trying to be safe, and we want them to continue to do so.

"We're so close to making some progress and having some hope, but this was just really an opportunity to continue to highlight that our team really does make fact-based decisions when it comes to masks and social distancing requirements to protect our citizens, our businesses and our visitors."

The resolution is adapted from a template circulated by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Folly Beach, outside Charleston, issued a proclamation Feb. 9 to designate March 1 as COVID-19 Memorial Day.

Municipal Association of South Carolina officials said they weren't aware immediately of other cities in the state participating. 

A national memorial to COVID-19 victims was held on Jan. 19 ahead of President Joe Biden's inauguration and was recognized throughout the country, including some areas of South Carolina, with ringing church bells and lit-up municipal buildings.

More than 425,000 confirmed cases have struck South Carolinians, with more than 7,000 killed by the virus. In Lexington County, where Cayce is the third-largest municipality by population, 412 people have died of COVID-19 as of Feb. 13.

Cayce, a town of 13,600 on the opposite side of the Congaree River from Columbia, has had a mask requirement in public places within the city since July. The rule was recently extended until at least March 29.

There are no events planned as of now to mark the memorial, Partin said. If approved, Cayce's first COVID-19 Memorial Day would be March 1. 

"For now it's just an opportunity to further the dialogue to recognize all the lives that have been lost, an opportunity to recognize all of the amazing first responders that are out in the community and are part of our hospital systems and have done such an amazing job," she said. "Because as tired as we are, they're definitely more tired."

Cayce has gone through other tragedies in the recent years as the site for a fatal 2018 Amtrak train wreck and the slaying of 6-year-old Faye Swetlik in 2020.

Clarification: This story has been updated to reflect that Folly Beach also recognized COVID-19 Memorial Day with a proclamation.

Reach Stephen Fastenau at 803-365-3235. Follow him on Twitter @StephenFastenau.

Columbia reporter

Stephen Fastenau is a local government reporter covering the City of Columbia, Richland County and general assignments. He returned to Columbia after 10 years as a reporter at The Island Packet and is a University of South Carolina graduate.

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