The federal government requires every industry in South Carolina to prepare emergency response plans. Yet, as we face the most consequential emergency of our generation, the federal government has not produced a clear response plan with specific actions, target dates and assigned responsibilities.
Gov. Henry McMaster, like all of us, wants the state to return to normal and has created a team called accelerateSC to develop South Carolina’s plan to safely reopen.
Two very capable state officials, State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell and Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt, have been tasked with leading the plan’s development.
The only way to safely reopen South Carolina’s economy is to increase testing far beyond any level being done today.
Diagnostic testing must be available for any employee showing symptoms of COVID-19 or who has been exposed to the virus. Anyone testing positive must be quarantined and contact-traced.
Importantly, employees should know they will continue to be paid for sick time off and must stay home if they present a possible risk to fellow employees or the public.
More importantly, antibody testing must become reliable, rapid, relatively inexpensive and widespread. Some estimates are that 50% of the population may have already been exposed. These employees have little risk of spreading or contracting the disease again and can reenter the workforce immediately with minimal risk.
The accelerateSC task force should develop a plan with specific targets, by week, for the number of diagnostic and antibody tests needed. South Carolina’s plan should be communicated to employees, the public and the White House Coronavirus Task Force. All state plans can then be combined and a detailed national testing plan must be developed and implemented. Progress must be measured against that plan.
Only then will South Carolina and the country be able to return to work safely.
Retired environmental, health and safety manager
Time for reflection
I, for one, find the pandemic shutdown of the Lowcountry a sort of personal awakening.
I’ve been taking long walks with my wife, listening to birds, sitting for hours, embracing mindfulness, cooking for my family daily. I have started a garden, taken long rides in our boat, fished for spottails and trout, and become symbiotic with Heinz, our lapdog dachshund.
I’ve removed myself from social media and deleted my Yelp account.
It was deleting my Yelp account that gave me most solace. I don’t know how, but I had become a sort of foodie snob and, quite frankly, someone I did not like.
I found myself compelled to dine at eateries as soon as they opened and write about their creations.
I had written 100-plus reviews, mostly negative, due to overpriced, “average at best” entrees and sometimes rude, atypical Southern service.
So, here I am, a 53-year-old man with an epiphany, a better appreciation for life.
I’ve decided to eat out less, spend more time being mindful, taking Sunday drives and patronizing only lower-priced, locally owned ma and pa restaurants, diners and affordable food carts.
My new norm will not include keeping up with the Joneses or walking away dissatisfied after spending a few hundred dollars on an “average at best” $22 pasta or $26 seafood dish, and a bottle of wine marked up 300%, all complemented with nothing but regret and angina.
In March, BC (Before COVID-19) my wife and I attended the play “Our Town.”
In Act III, Emily dies at 29. She is allowed to relive one day of her life. She picks her 12th birthday. That second time around is painful. With her new, postmortem perspective, she is shocked by how little her family (and she) appreciated day-to-day life.
Since the play, our world has narrowed with social distancing. For example, we recently spent the day washing clothes, biking and holding a mini family reunion on Skype.
That night, because it was chilly again, we read by the fire. Our plans for tomorrow will be to help at the church food pantry, come home and sup on leftovers.
And, from afar, we will mourn at the funeral (“immediate family only”) of an old friend.
No hugs at our family reunion. No embraces at the friend’s funeral.
During the scheduled timeframe of my friend’s funeral, Emily will be much on my mind. The preciousness of “normal” life and cherished friends has become clearer seen in the rearview mirror.
As we return to normal, I hope to hold onto Emily’s perspective.
Marsh Point Drive
On May 5, Sullivan’s Island loosened restrictions on visitors. There were lines outside several restaurants serving outside or for pickup. There was no social distancing or masks evident among the more than 100 patrons.
There are no fines for endangering others. Today it’s fun and entertainment before safety. Golf anyone?