Category : State Government

(NYT) Despite the Fears, Election Day Mostly Goes as Planned

While there were reports of delays, glitches and disinformation in some key swing states — Arizona in particular — that could loom larger as vote counting plays out, few of the major disruptions that had been feared came to pass on Election Day.

But far-right media figures and Republican politicians seized upon even the limited issues and typical problems that occurred to sow doubt about the legitimacy of the vote.

In Arizona, for example, officials in Maricopa County — a hive of false election fraud conspiracies in 2020 — announced that tabulator machines at roughly 20 percent of voting centers had malfunctioned but said that they were confident that all votes would be counted, albeit with delays.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., House of Representatives, Politics in General, Senate, State Government

(NYT front page) The story of one Kentucky man who built a big house with a bunker, entered politics, and ended up having his giant residence attacked and his daughter killed

Jordan, 32, told her father she had come to feel unsafe at the house. In February of this year, she was hired by a law firm in Lexington and planned to move as soon as possible to an apartment in the city. “She must have sensed that she was being watched,” he said.

Someone had been watching, marking the house’s entry points and taking detailed notes on the family’s movements. Early on the morning of Feb. 22, prosecutors say, the watcher, Shannon V. Gilday, a 23-year-old former soldier who lived in the Cincinnati suburbs, climbed up to a second-floor balcony and began his attack.

“He stood and looked at me without any emotions, like he was programmed,” Mr. Morgan said of the moment he first encountered Mr. Gilday in the foyer. At that point, Jordan was dead.

Now Mr. Morgan was the target.

Read it all.

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Children, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Psychology, Science & Technology, State Government, Violence

(NYT front page) Troubling Signals, Yet Still Cleared to Buy Guns

The suspect in the shooting, Robert E. Crimo III, 21, had drawn police attention more than once, and despite warnings about his troubling behavior, had gotten a firearm license and bought several guns.

How a young man who had sent troubling signals managed to end up with a semiautomatic rifle in Illinois is a question that is haunting not only the survivors of Monday’s deadly massacre in Highland Park, a Chicago suburb. It is also a question of federal importance, coming just days after President Biden signed into law the most significant gun legislation passed in decades.

As details of Mr. Crimo’s past continued to emerge, and as a judge ordered him held without bail on murder charges on Wednesday, it remained unclear whether the horrific episode revealed weaknesses in state restrictions on guns, or in the limits of even potent safeguards in a system that ultimately relies on the judgments of people — the authorities, families, observers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Psychology, State Government, Violence

(PD) Nicole Stelle Garnett–Another Chink in the Armor of Legal Discrimination against Religious Schools

Fortunately, in Carson v. Makin, the Supreme Court ruled that faith-based schools cannot be asked to shed their religious identity in order to participate in school-choice programs. As the majority opinion makes clear, Maine’s exclusion of faith-based schools from its tuition assistance program is neither constitutionally required nor constitutionally permissible.

Of course, before the twenty-first century, the state might have been forgiven for making an honest mistake. The Supreme Court’s Establishment Clause doctrine has been all over the map in the second half of the twentieth century. In 1980, many decisions seemed to prohibit students from using public funds to attend religious schools. Speaking of maps, for example, in Meek v. Pittenger (1975) and Wolman v. Walters (1977), the Court held that the Establishment Clause permitted states to provide secular textbooks, but not instructional materials such as maps, to faith-based schools. Seriously.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court’s Establishment Clause doctrine has taken a decidedly pro-religion turn in the past few decades. In decision after decision leading up to Carson, the Court has reiterated that the Constitution demands neutrality and prohibits hostility toward religious institutions and believers. Importantly, in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002), the Court held that the Establishment Clause does not prohibit faith-based schools from participating in publicly funded private-school-choice programs.

Read it all.

Posted in Education, History, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, State Government, Supreme Court

(CT) Supreme Court Rules Against Maine Policy Denying Christian School Aid

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a Maine policy covering tuition for private schools but not religious schools violates the First Amendment.

Maine offers the tuition assistance in rural districts that do not have public schools. The challenge involved two private Christian schools, Bangor Christian Schools and Temple Academy, which didn’t meet the state’s “nonsectarian” requirement for families to qualify.

The court said such a requirement infringes on free exercise protections and that there was “nothing neutral” about the program.

Read it all.

Posted in Education, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, State Government, Supreme Court

SC Supreme Court Moves Petitions for Rehearing Forward for 7 of 8 parishes

From there:

Columbia, S.C. (June 8, 2022) – Yesterday, in welcome news for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, the South Carolina Supreme Court released an order concerning the eight petitions for rehearing filed by parishes of the Diocese. For seven of those congregations, the court requested that the Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) submit a return by June 20 responding to the arguments made by the seven parishes. The issues TEC and TECSC must address are: 1) the effect of subsection 62-7-602(a) of the South Carolina Code making all trusts created after Jan. 1, 2006 revocable, and 2) the argument that no trust was created by accession language incorporated in governing documents prior to 1979. Based on the April 20 ruling, these parishes maintain they did not create a trust interest in favor of TEC or TECSC and therefore, should retain ownership of their properties.

The parishes whose petitions for rehearing are included in the Court’s request are: the Church of the Holy Cross (Stateburg), the Church of the Good Shepherd (Charleston), the Church of the Holy Comforter (Sumter), St. Jude’s Church (Walterboro), Old St. Andrew’s (Charleston), St. Luke’s Church (Hilton Head) and Trinity Church (Myrtle Beach). The petition for Christ Church (Mt. Pleasant) was denied in its entirety. The people of the Diocese are encouraged to keep these parishes, the Supreme Court and its continued deliberations in their prayers.

In Christ’s Service,

The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis
The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina
Anglican Church in North America

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, State Government, Stewardship

(Economist) What Florida can teach America

What can Florida reveal about America? In many ways, it is a land apart from the rest of the country. Yet a state as diverse as Florida is also a mini-America, with its political divisions condensed into single blocks. The rise of minor parties and voters with no-party affiliation should be a reckoning for the two main national parties. Immigrants and transplants want a positive message about the future, not a dire one, which should be a wake-up call to Democrats to refine their campaigning to signal optimism and opportunity. The lurch to the right of Mr DeSantis and other Republicans, who prioritise social issues such as abortion over practical economic concerns of ordinary Floridians, is a political calculation that may yet backfire.

Nowhere are the intergenerational divisions that scar America clearer than in Florida. The elderly who retire there feel little connection to the state or much desire to invest in its future. Meanwhile, the young require more than “freedom” (Florida’s favourite rhetorical export) to thrive. With such austere investment in citizens and good government, there is a vast gulf between older migrants who import their fortunes and savings into Florida and those who want to build lives there, but face lower wages.

Florida is a test-bed for the limits of libertarian policies. The early 2020s may be remembered as America’s “Florida years”, with Mr DeSantis’s embrace of policies, such as anti-lockdown provisions, that put his state on the national stage. But now that Florida feels the pain of soaring house prices and displacement of the labour force by new arrivals, some voters’ faith that the free market alone is enough to fix things has been shaken.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Ecology, Economy, State Government

(Local Paper front page) Domestic violence in South Carolina cost nearly $360M in 2020 – or $1M a day, study says

The financial cost of domestic violence in South Carolina runs to nearly $1 million a day when you add up the burden put on families, courts, law enforcement and the economy, a study conducted by researchers at the University of South Carolina says.

USC economist Dr. Joseph Von Nessen said the spread of domestic violence cost the state approximately $358.4 million in 2020 alone, a sum that victim advocates describe as leaving a “staggering” toll on the state’s health care facilities, businesses, nonprofits and the judicial system.

“Domestic violence does occur in every county in our state,” Von Nessen said Feb. 15 at a Statehouse press conference to discuss details of the findings. “So it is critical for us to make sure that there’s sufficient resources for intervention and support services within reach of all South Carolinians.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, State Government, Violence

(CT) Can Maine Cover the Cost of Christian School Tuition?

The latest Supreme Court case over public funding for religious schooling examines a policy in Maine, a state dotted with small towns too tiny to run their own public schools. Over half of the state’s school districts (officially called “school administrative units” or SAUs for short) contract with and pay tuition costs to another nearby school of the parents’ choice—public or private.

And that’s where the hangup lies. By law, Maine mandates that partnering private schools be “nonsectarian in nature, in accordance with the First Amendment of the United States Constitution” to receive the funding, and three Christian families in the state are challenging the requirement.

The Supreme Court will hear their case, Carson vs. Makin, this week. The decision could set further precedent in defining the distance between church and state and the approach to religious freedom itself, as it makes a distinction between barring public funding due to religious identity of the recipient and barring funding to the religious purpose it would be used to advance.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, State Government, Supreme Court

(The State) South Carolina Covid19 Case Numbers Thankfully Show Improvement

South Carolina added more than 2,300 new COVID-19 cases over the past three days, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control reported Monday For three straight weeks, the state has seen fewer than 1,000 new daily cases. A similar streak of lower numbers hasn’t occurred since July, when daily case totals were at the lowest since the pandemic began. The Palmetto State’s downward trend of cases over the past month shows the spread of the virus has slowed significantly compared to months earlier.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, State Government

(NYT) Election Results Provide a Stark Warning to Democrats

Mr. Youngkin had campaigned heavily on education and seized on Mr. McAuliffe’s remark that he didn’t “believe parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” Mr. Youngkin used the comment, made during a debate, as an entryway to hammer his rival on issues like race and transgender rights in schools. The issues simultaneously motivated the G.O.P. base while casting the matter to moderates as an issue of parental rights.

“This is no longer a campaign,” Mr. Youngkin said. “It is a movement being led by Virginia’s parents.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Education, Marriage & Family, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Joe Biden, State Government

(Terry Mattingly) Concerning that sermon on vaccines by the governor of New York

It helps to know that Hochul’s appearance took place in a setting frequently visited by Democrats and Republicans alike: Brooklyn’s massive Christian Cultural Center. A New York Times profile of its pastor, the Rev. A.R. Bernard, once noted that this “church, the largest in New York City, has long been considered a required stop on the way to City Hall and beyond.”

In other words, it wasn’t that surprising that the governor said what she said in the sacred setting in which she said it. However, her remarks were also connected — by timing — with the state’s decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all health care workers, including those attempting to claim exemptions based on their religious beliefs.

Hochul didn’t address that issue at the Christian Cultural Center, but said, “I feel God has tapped me on the shoulder … because everything I have done in life has been because of the Grace of God leading me to that place.” She added that the coronavirus pandemic has only strengthened that conviction.

“Jesus taught us to love one another,” Hochul said. “How do you show that love but to care about each other enough to say, ‘Please get the vaccine because I love you and I want you to live?’

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, State Government

(The State) South Carolina living in two different worlds as normalcy and chaos try to co-exist during the COVID19 pandemic

There is an unsettling disconnect in the rhythms of South Carolina these days, when normalcy and crisis clash and co-reign.

More than a year and a half into the coronavirus pandemic that has killed some 12,000 South Carolinians — nearly 1,900 dead in the past month alone, as the fatality rate speeds up — early fall life looks much like it always has for many people who crowd into restaurants, sporting events, concerts and church services.

While tens of thousands gather in college football stadiums, hospitals strain under a worsening surge of COVID-19 patients. While one community mourns the deaths of two schoolchildren, among COVID’s youngest victims, passionate crowds fill school board and council chambers to protest mask mandates. While lines of cars wait for hours at a drive-thru coronavirus testing site in the state capital, half of the state’s eligible residents still wait or refuse to be vaccinated.

The discord is striking in that each of these moments coexist with the others — the mirth alongside the sorrow, the fear alongside the vitriol.

As the pandemic worsens, these clashing moments mingle across the Palmetto State.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Sports, State Government

(Stat News) ‘Delta has been brutal’: Covid-19 variant is decimating rural areas already reeling from the pandemic

Health inequities in rural communities across the South are continuing to determine who is most vulnerable to Covid-19 now that the Delta variant is bringing a new surge in deaths.

Several states, including Florida and Georgia, have experienced the highest levels of hospitalizations to date in recent months, as the highly contagious variant sweeps through the country, and within those states, rural areas are especially hard-hit.

“Delta has been brutal on our community,” said Tammy Jackson-Moore, co-founder of the Guardians of the Glades nonprofit, who has been working to improve vaccination rates in Pahokee and other predominantly Black or Hispanic cities in Palm Beach County, Fla. “We knew Covid was bad, but Delta showed us it was worse than what we anticipated.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Rural/Town Life, State Government

(Local Paper) COVID19 rate in South Carolina remains highest in US; DHEC reports more than 20,000 new cases

Even as COVID-19 cases start to level off in some Southern states, the virus is showing no signs of slowing down in South Carolina, where more than 20,000 confirmed and probable cases were recorded by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control over the Labor Day weekend.

Compared with the rest of the country, COVID-19 rates are very high in South Carolina. The New York Times calculated Sept. 7 that, once again, the rate of new cases in the Palmetto State is higher than anywhere else in the U.S….

Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, said on PBS Newshour on Sept. 6 that a South Carolina resident who is fully vaccinated now runs the same risk of catching COVID-19 as does a New York state resident who is unvaccinated.

“And that is simply because there is so much more virus circulating right now in South Carolina,” Gounder said, “that even with the protection of the vaccine, you could still get infected.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Children, Education, Health & Medicine, State Government

(Local paper editorial) COVID19 is on the rise in South Carolina again: what can we do?

Actually, there’s a good bit to worry about, and it’s everybody’s business. This is particularly true in South Carolina, where the high number of willing hosts — just 50% of the eligible population had received one shot and only 44% were fully vaccinated as of Monday — combined with the emergence of the much more transmissible delta variant is driving infection rates back up to numbers we haven’t seen since the vaccine was still being rationed.

After remaining under the CDC’s “safe” 5% threshold for months, the rate of positive tests in South Carolina is on the rise: up to 10.8% Tuesday. Daily deaths and infections remain low, but as we learned last year, when the number of hospitalized and dead people hovered at low numbers until suddenly they didn’t, there’s a lag time between infection, serious illness and death.

Why should the vaccinated care? Beyond human compassion, there are at least three reasons it’s in everybody’s interest to get our vaccination numbers up….

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, State Government

(Science Alert) More Than Half of All Buildings in The US Are at Risk of Natural Disasters

More than half of all buildings in the United States are situated in hazardous hotspots, prone to wildfires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes, according to new research.

Areas vulnerable to such natural disasters make up only one-third of the US mainland, and yet most modern development to date has occurred in these very spots.

In 1945, roughly 173,000 structures, including homes, schools, hospitals, and office buildings, were situated in hotspots for at least two separate kinds of natural disasters.

Seven decades later, that number has now reached over 1.5 million buildings, and development in these areas is still growing rapidly.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Science & Technology, State Government

(Local Paper) With 20% in South Carolina struggling with mental health, report points to need for widespread change

One in five South Carolinians has a mental health diagnosis, according to a new report, and while notable improvements have been made, the state remains poorly equipped to treat everyone who needs help.

A group of South Carolina’s health leaders at the S.C. Institute of Medicine and Public Health and the S.C. Behavioral Health Coalition took stock of the last six years regarding progress in the state’s mental health care and published a report advocating for widespread change in treatment for people with mental illness and substance use disorders within schools, hospitals, jails and prisons.

The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated the state’s mental health problems. For one, fatal overdoses from opioids were up at least 20 percent between 2019 and 2020, and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control says the deaths accelerated during the pandemic.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, State Government

(Greenville News) South Carolina Covid19 fight: Improvement plateauing, officials concerned about spring break, Easter

South Carolina continues to dramatically improved its pandemic fight, but officials are urging people to not let their guard down as spring break and Easter gatherings approach.

The improvements have been across the board: More vaccinations are being given, deaths and new cases remain at levels not seen since before Thanksgiving and warmer weather is expected to help, too.

But state officials are warning that the upcoming spring break, Easter celebrations and other spring activities could cause rebounds if people let down their guard.

Already, the improvements are plateauing, said Dr. Jane Kelly, assistant state epidemiologist with the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, during a Friday afternoon call with reporters.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, State Government

South Carolina Moves to Phase 1b of COVID-19 Vaccination Plan Today

Governor Henry McMaster and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced today that South Carolina will advance to Phase 1b of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan beginning Monday, March 8.

“Throughout South Carolina’s vaccination efforts, our priority has been – and continues to be – saving lives,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “In the month of February, South Carolina made tremendous progress on expanding access to vaccinations as the supply of vaccine increased. Our hospitals, pharmacies and healthcare providers became more nimble and efficient at getting shots in arms. Because of these successes, we’re now in a position to make the majority of South Carolinians eligible to receive the vaccine.”

“South Carolina remains focused on protecting the lives and health of South Carolinians from COVID-19,” said Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC Director. “With the significant increase in vaccine supply and progress in vaccinating people in group 1a, front-line health care workers and those aged 65 and over, we are now ready to move to our next phase. Our state’s vaccine plan prioritizes those with greatest risk, while ensuring equal access to the vaccine for every South Carolinian aged 16 and over.”

South Carolina’s phased approach to its COVID-19 vaccine rollout recognizes the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 increases with age, and people with certain medical conditions and occupations are at higher risk of exposure to the virus.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government

(NPR) It’s Not Just Texas. The Entire Energy Grid Needs An Upgrade For Extreme Weather

The Texas blackout is another reminder that more frequent, climate-driven extreme weather puts stress on the country’s electricity grid. It came just months after outages in California aimed at preventing wildfires.

Compounding this, electricity likely will be even more important in coming years amid a push to electrify cars and homes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That has many grid experts saying it’s time to upgrade the country’s electricity infrastructure.

That includes wires, power plants, big transmission towers and local utilities – everything that gets electricity to you. And much of that infrastructure was designed for a different era.

“We planned this grid for Ozzie and Harriet weather and we are now facing Mad Max,” says energy consultant Alison Silverstein.

The pop culture references are her way of saying that the grid was designed for technology and weather that existed in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. Now, she says, it needs to be updated for a future that includes climate change.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Climate Change, Weather, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, State Government, The U.S. Government

(NYT) After a Sluggish Start, the Vaccine Rollout Is Improving in Every State

On Jan. 1, just a quarter of vaccine doses delivered across the country had been used, compared to 68 percent of doses on Feb. 11. A handful of states have administered more than 80 percent of the doses they have received. And even states with slower vaccine uptake are making strides. Alabama, for example, where the share of doses used has consistently ranked among the country’s lowest, is in the process of opening new mass vaccination sites in eight cities.

“Every state is improving,” said Claire Hannan, the executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers. “We still don’t have enough to vaccinate everyone over 75, so it doesn’t necessarily feel different for people who are trying to find the vaccine, but we are in a much better place now.”

Health officials acknowledge that it’s confusing to suggest that overall supply is limited, when federal data shows that many shots still seem to be sitting unused. But jurisdictions have said that they are working around the clock to close the gap between doses delivered and administered.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, State Government

(Local Paper) Police, doctors warn South Carolina lawmakers against passing ‘open carry with training’ gun bill

Charleston’s police chief warned South Carolina lawmakers a proposal to let trained gun owners carry their weapons openly could endanger public safety and make the jobs of law enforcement officers more difficult.

Chief Luther Reynolds was one of dozens of South Carolinians who testified Feb. 10 in opposition to the bill, joining several doctors and self-identified gun owners who said they fear the bill could lead to more violence and anxiety on the streets.

The opponents outnumbered the six supporters who testified in favor of the measure by saying they believe the training aspect will ensure guns are handled responsibly and noting that South Carolina is one of only five states that does not have any form of open carry law on the books.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Police/Fire, Politics in General, State Government, Violence

(Local Paper) Hospitals pick up Covid19 vaccination efforts in SC, but available doses can’t meet demand

Nearly all of South Carolina’s 750 long-term care facilities will be visited by pharmacists by month’s end to offer COVID-19 vaccine shots to residents most vulnerable to dying of the disease, health officials said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, hospitals are stepping up their efforts to vaccinate everyone else eligible in the first phase — which newly includes several thousand parents of medically fragile children — even as appointments for doses continue to exceed statewide supply.

Gov. Henry McMaster has warned repeatedly this week that if hospitals don’t get doses in arms faster, he’ll suspend their money-making elective surgeries so they can focus their efforts on vaccine distribution. As of Tuesday, major hospitals had more than 50,000 doses left on hand to administer.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, State Government

(Local Paper front page) To ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations, South Carolina expands who can give the shots

South Carolina is expanding who’s allowed to give COVID-19 vaccines in an effort to get shots into arms faster amid escalating frustrations with the state’s slow rollout.

A pair of major hospitals say they could vaccinate up to 10,000 people a day — three times more than their current capacity — with added help to administer shots as shipments ramp up.

Meanwhile, the state’s public health agency is giving up on contact tracing of those infected after becoming overwhelmed with a sharp rise in COVID cases.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, State Government

(NYT front page) A Snaking Line to No Vaccine: Florida’s Big Rollout Sputters

Linda Kleindienst Bruns registered for a coronavirus vaccine in late December, on the first day the health department in Tallahassee, Fla., opened for applications for people her age. Despite being 72, with her immune system suppressed by medication that keeps her breast cancer in remission, she spent days waiting to hear back about an appointment.

“It’s so disorganized,” she said. “I was hoping the system would be set up so there would be some sort of logic to it.”

Phyllis Humphreys, 76, waited with her husband last week in a line of cars in Clermont, west of Orlando, that spilled onto Highway 27. They had scrambled into their car and driven 22 miles after receiving an automated text message saying vaccine doses were available. But by 9:43 a.m., the site had reached capacity and the Humphreys went home with no shots.

“We’re talking about vaccinations,” said Ms. Humphreys, a retired critical care nurse. “We are not talking about putting people in Desert Storm.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, State Government

(Local Paper) South Carolina confirms nearly 3,600 more coronavirus cases as experts warn against Christmas travel

Nearly 3,600 South Carolinians tested positive for COVID-19, authorities announced Wednesday, worrying the experts who’ve warned against holiday travel and gatherings.

The state has only surpassed 3,000 cases per day a couple times, but authorities have warned that another surge in cases could come two weeks after the holidays.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has urged Palmetto State residents to stay home for Christmas, modify holiday traditions using Zoom or sticking to single-household celebrations. Those who choose to attend gatherings should get tested and avoid traveling with others if possible.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government, Theology

(Local Paper) Governor McMaster, South Carolina health officials sound alarm on spiking COVID19 cases, but no restrictive orders

With cases of COVID-19 climbing to record highs, South Carolina’s health care leaders and Gov. Henry McMaster pleaded with residents to continually wear masks and socially distance this holiday season to stem the deaths of loved ones, noting help is on the way but still months off.

While South Carolina is expected to receive enough doses in the coming days to vaccinate at least 200,000 people, that won’t be enough for even everyone eligible in the highest-priority group, which includes front-line medical workers and nursing home residents, McMaster said.

“It appears many people have let their guard down. I know we have fatigue, but now is not the time for us to let up. Now is the time to redouble our efforts,” he said, cautioning that widespread vaccination “will be a slow process all over the country.”

But he reiterated he will not shut the state down again, as he did for roughly six weeks in the spring with one of the nation’s shortest stay-at-home orders.

Other states where Democratic governors ordered longer shutdowns and recently clamped down again have ruined their economy and killed hundreds of thousands of businesses, the Republican governor said, adding those actions did not ultimately stem the spread there.

“There’s a better way, and we all know what that is,” he said, indicating the mask in his hand.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, State Government

(The State) First batch of COVID-19 vaccines could reach South Carolina before Christmas, officials say

South Carolina could be less than two weeks away from receiving its initial shipment of COVID-19 vaccines, officials say.

Stephen White, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control’s immunization program manager, said if both Pfizer and Moderna receive approval for their respective COVID-19 vaccines when anticipated, South Carolina could be in line to receive limited quantities of both vaccines before Christmas.

“Things can change, decisions could linger, things could be expedited,” he said on a media call Thursday. “But that is the time frame we’re thinking the vaccine could be available, if the (emergency use authorization) is approved and (the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) provides their guidance.”

White said the agency anticipates receiving the Pfizer vaccine first, perhaps by Dec. 14, with the Moderna vaccine arriving the following week.

Both vaccines, which have been submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval, are considered safe and have both been more than 90% effective in initial trials, according to preliminary data.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, State Government

(Wash Post) Voices from the Pendemic: Amber Elliott–‘This is how we treat each other? This is who we are?’

We weren’t set up well to deal with this virus in Missouri. We have the worst funding in the country for public health, and a lot of the things we’ve needed to fight the spread of covid are things we should have had in place 10 years ago. We don’t have an emergency manager. We don’t have anyone to handle HR, public information, or IT, so that’s all been me. We didn’t get extra funding for covid until last month. I’m young and I’m motivated, and I took this job in January because public health is my absolute love. It doesn’t pay well, but would I rather be treating people who already have a disease or helping to prevent it? That’s what we do. We help take care of people. At one point this summer, I worked 90 days straight trying to hold this virus at bay, and my whole staff was basically like that.

We hired 10 contact tracers to track the spread, starting in August, but the real problem we keep running into is community cooperation. We call everyone that’s had a positive test and say: “Hey, this is your local health department. We’re trying to interrupt disease transmission, and we’d love your help.” It’s nothing new. We do the same thing for measles, mumps, and tick-borne diseases, and I’d say 99 percent of the time before covid, people were receptive. They wanted to stop an outbreak, but now it’s all politicized. Every time you get on the phone, you’re hoping you don’t get cussed at. Probably half of the people we call are skeptical or combative. They refuse to talk. They deny their own positive test results. They hang up. They say they’re going to hire a lawyer. They give you fake people they’ve spent time with and fake numbers. They lie and tell you they’re quarantining alone at home, but then in the background you can hear the beeping of a scanner at Walmart.

I’ve stayed up a lot of nights trying to understand where this whole disconnect comes from. I love living in this county. I know in my heart these are good people, but it’s like we’re living on different planets. I have people in my own family who believe covid is a conspiracy and our doctors are getting paid off. I’ve done press conferences and dozens of Facebook Live videos to talk about the real science. Even with all the other failures happening, that’s the one thing we should be celebrating: better treatments, nurses and doctors on the front lines, promising news about vaccines. But the more I talk about the facts, the more it seems to put a target on my back.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Science & Technology, State Government