Category : State Government

(The State) COVID-19 absentee expansion bill clears SC House, heads to Gov. McMaster

A bill that would expand absentee voting to all registered South Carolina voters in the Nov. 3 general election as a pandemic-related safety measure is headed to the governor’s desk after clearing the House Tuesday.

The bill, which passed 115-1, allows “no-excuse” absentee voting, but retains the requirement that absentee voters get a witness to watch them sign their absentee ballot envelope — a requirement that a federal judge suspended for the June primary, citing the risk of COVID-19 transmission — and scraps plans to add more ballot drop boxes.

Gov. Henry McMaster has yet to weigh in on the absentee expansion bill, which passed unanimously in the Senate last week, but signed a similar bill the Legislature approved ahead of the June primary.

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

(Local Paper) Coronavirus cases no longer trending down in 28 South Carolina counties, DHEC says

After seeing a peak in new coronavirus cases in July and five weeks of dropping numbers, 28 of South Carolina’s 46 counties are no longer seeing a downward disease trend, according to a presentation given to state public health officials on Thursday.

Dr. Brannon Traxler, a physician consultant for the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, told the agency’s governing board the entire state can no longer be classified as being on a downward trend.

“We’ve recently started to see a little increase,” she said. “It’s too early to say whether it will be significant. We want to encourage everyone to do what they were doing. We were seeing that steady decline.”

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

(LA Times) Californians are losing their fear of the coronavirus, setting the stage for disaster

“Public health, when it does its work best, it’s not telling people what to do. It’s telling people how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe so people can make their decisions about how to do that,” Bibbins-Domingo said.

Lockdown fatigue is not a new phenomenon. During the 1918 flu pandemic, San Franciscans threw their masks into the air when they thought the pandemic was over, not realizing a new deadly wave of flu would hit within weeks, said Chin-Hong at UC San Francisco.

“People are afraid that history is going to repeat itself,” he said.

California’s exuberant optimism that the worst of the pandemic was behind us was fueled by the state’s early success. While many people in California might not know someone who died, Chin-Hong said, in New York, it seemingly felt like everyone knew someone who died.

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Posted in Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, State Government, Theology

(WSJ) U.S. Daily Coronavirus-Case Count Crosses 50,000, a new daily record

New coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose above 50,000, a single-day record, as some states and businesses reversed course on reopenings and hospitals were hit by a surge of patients.
The U.S. accounts for about a quarter of more than 10.6 million coronavirus cases world-wide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The nation’s death toll climbed above 128,000.

Cases and hospitalizations are rising sharply in a number of areas.

In Texas, 6,533 Covid-19 patients were in hospitals, according to the state’s Department of Health. For most of April and May that number hovered between 1,100 and 1,800. It broke the 2,000 mark on June 8.

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

(Local Paper) COVID-19 cases are rising sharply across SC. These charts show why.

Traci Testerman, an immunology and microbiology professor with the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, is concerned about the way things are going in South Carolina.

“The state is absolutely headed in the wrong direction, and we do need more rules and support from the governor,” she said.

If everyone had access to N95 masks, then it wouldn’t be a big problem for a few people to walk around without a mask, Testerman said. But since that is not the case, one of the solutions is to reduce the amount of virus circulating in the air and contaminating uninfected people.

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

(The State) South Carolina students may not return to schools if COVID-19 spread doesn’t slow, official says

If coronavirus cases continue to rise as they have been for the last few weeks, K-12 students will not likely return to in-person education in the fall, a top official said Monday.

“If it continues on the same path we’re on right now it’s going to be extremely difficult for us to be able to go back face-to-face,” S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said at a Monday press conference. “Hopefully we’ll see a change and things will start decreasing.”

There is no question being able to teach in-person is better — especially for young students — than being purely online, Spearman said. However, she said she will not risk student and teacher safety to meet that goal.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, State Government

(NPR) As States Reopen, Do They Have The Workforce They Need To Stop Coronavirus Outbreaks?

An NPR survey of state health departments shows that the national coronavirus contact tracing workforce has tripled in the past six weeks, from 11,142 workers to 37,110. Yet given their current case counts, only seven states and the District of Columbia are staffed to the level that public health researchers say is needed to contain outbreaks.

Contact tracers are public health workers who reach out to each new positive coronavirus case, track down their contacts, and connect both the sick person and those who were exposed with the services they need to be able to safely isolate themselves. This is an essential part of stamping out emerging outbreaks.

To understand how that picture had changed since NPR’s initial contact tracing survey in late April, NPR reached out again to all state health departments, as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. territories. In total, NPR reporters were able to assemble data from all 50 states along with D.C., Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, State Government

(Local Paper) SC health official sounds alarm as state records nearly 1,000 coronavirus cases

South Carolina health officials continued to urge the public to follow social distancing rules Thursday as the state recorded nearly 1,000 coronavirus cases.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said that everyone has a role to play in stopping COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

“This virus does not spread on its own,” Bell said. “It’s spread around our state by infected people who carry it wherever they go — their work, the supermarket, the post office, a friend’s house. By not following public health precautions, many are putting all at risk.”

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

South Carolina announces 582 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID19 and 2 additional deaths

South Carolina continued a record breaking streak of coronavirus cases Monday after state health officials announced that 582 more people have tested positive for the virus.

Department of Health and Environmental Control officials also announced that two additional people — who were from Charleston and Lexington counties — died after contracting the coronavirus.

Greenville County saw the largest increase in cases with 91.

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

South Carolina announces 770 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID19+6 additional deaths

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced 770 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and 6 additional deaths.

This brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 17,955 and those who have died to 599.

Four deaths occurred in elderly individuals from Cherokee (1), Darlington (1), Greenville (1), and Richland (1) counties, and two deaths occurred in middle-aged individuals from Greenville (1) and Horry (1) counties.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, State Government

GRR:Discouraging short term trend continues–South Carolina today announced 770 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID19+5 additional deaths

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced 770 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and 5 additional deaths.

This brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 17,170 and those who have died to 593.

All five deaths occurred in elderly individuals from Aiken (1), Charleston (1), Lexington (1), Orangeburg (1), and Richland (1) counties

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Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, State Government

(DHEC) South Carolina announces 528 new cases of COVID19 and 7 additional deaths

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced 528 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and 7 additional deaths.

This brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 15,759 and those who have died to 575.

Five of the deaths occurred in elderly individuals from Chesterfield (1), Florence (1), Greenville (2), and Spartanburg (1) counties, and 2 middle-aged individuals from Greenville (1) and Newberry (1) counties.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government

(The State) As South Carolina surpasses 15,000 COVID19 cases, infection rates, hospitalizations hit new highs

Following a record breaking day, Department of Health and Environmental Control officials announced Tuesday that South Carolina has surpassed 15,000 coronavirus cases.

On Tuesday, 434 more people tested positive for the virus, and 11 additional people have died after contracting it, DHEC officials said. The 434 represented 14.7% of the total daily number of tests results reported Tuesday — the highest daily rate of infection the state has seen in at least the last 28 days.

Another statistic also is rapidly rising: the number of hospital beds across the state occupied by patients with confirmed COVID-19 cases or who are under investigation for the disease. On Saturday, for example, the state had 482 COVID patients being treated in hospital. In just two days, that number has rocketed up to 541.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, State Government

A Second Straight Record Day of New Coronavirus Cases in South Carolina

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced 512 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and 7 additional deaths.

This brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 13,916 and those who have died to 545.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, State Government

(The State) South Carolina ends record breaking week with 447 new coronavirus cases

The coronavirus has continued its speedy spread across South Carolina, with state officials announcing 447 new infections on Friday, setting a new record for the largest single-day increase in cases, state Department of Health and Environmental Control officials said in a statement.

In all, 13,453 people have tested positive for the virus across the state. Also announced Friday were an additional 13 deaths, bringing the death toll to 538.

The latest case and death statistics come near the end of a record week. Over the last week, state health officials have seen record high case numbers each day, including three days with more than 300 cases and two days with more than 400, topping the previous records set in April and May by dozens of cases.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, State Government

(The State) Coronavirus case total in South Carolina grows by 361. Officials note seven more deaths

The new cases are the latest indicator that South Carolina is seeing an increase in coronavirus activity. Over the past few weeks, DHEC officials have noted high weekly case numbers, higher seven-day average number of cases and increasing percents of tests that turn up positive.

Four of the last seven days have seen more than 300 cases, a milestone the state never reached before.

Thursday, officials said that 5.5% of tests conducted the previous day were positive.

And even those metrics don’t paint a complete picture of the coronavirus’ spread across South Carolina. DHEC officials estimate that as much as 86% of people who have contracted the virus have not been tested. As of Thursday, they estimated that a total of 92,900 people across the state had actually contracted the virus.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government

DHEC South Carolina’s Latest Covid19 Update–People are Reminded to Take Actions to Limit Spread of COVID-19

As restrictions are reduced by reopenings and South Carolinians return to their workplaces and participate in recreational activities that might involve crowds, DHEC continues to urge everyone to be vigilant in practicing social distancing and wearing masks to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

This reminder comes amid public health experts’ concerns over the recent rise in COVID-19 data trends in South Carolina.

“The more people you expose yourself to, the more you multiply your risk of being exposed to the virus,” said Dr. Linda Bell, state epidemiologist. “There are those who are finding ways to hold graduations and open businesses safely through careful planning and attention to crowd density and safety measures such as wearing masks. When we don’t do those things, we can put ourselves and others at risk, and case counts will rise.”

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Posted in * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, State Government

(The State) DHEC reports 285 new South Carolina coronavirus cases and one additional death

South Carolina’s coronavirus case count continued to grow Tuesday after Department of Health and Environmental Control officials announced that tests had resulted in an additional 285 positive infections across the state.

The latest daily case count, which marked the fourth day in a row that more than 200 infections had been identified, brings the total number of COVID-19 cases statewide to 12,415.

The death toll also increased to 501 after one person who contracted the virus died. That person was elderly and from Horry County.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government

(Local Paper) South Carolina officials report 297 new coronavirus cases as deaths reach 500

South Carolina logged 297 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday and reported six new deaths.

Across the state, 12,148 people have now tested positive for the virus, while 500 people have died.

The six newly deceased patients were people above the age of 65 from Colleton, Fairfield, Horry and Lexington counties.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government

South Carolina Daily Reported Cases of Covid19 take an encouraging turn down

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced 156 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and 4 additional deaths.

This brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 10,788 and those who have died to 470.

The deaths occurred in 4 elderly individuals from Chesterfield (1), Fairfield (1), Greenville (1), and York (1) counties.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government

(PBS News Hour) Dr. Fauci on the ‘terrible hit’ of 100,000 deaths and being realistic about the fall

Well, Judy, what’s happening right now — and we were just at a meeting down at the White House yesterday, one of our meetings, where we went over with several of the governors the kinds of things that are in place. The testing is getting better and better and better.

I mean, I have always been publicly skeptical about that. But, right now, what I’m seeing is that the kinds of testing availability is getting better and better. And, as the weeks go by, I believe strongly that we’re going to be able to address that.

But you make a very good point. When I see some of those pictures of how people are congregating, at a time when there are still infections around, that’s not prudent, and that people need to really take a step back and look at that.

I mean, everybody wants to see us get back to some sort of normality. Everybody wants to open up the country, including an economic rebound. But we need to be really careful that we don’t do it in a way that is, in some respects, stepping over the prudent steps.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, State Government

South Carolina Announces Latest COVID-19 Update–207 new cases+20 Deaths

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced 207 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and 20 additional deaths.

This brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 10,623 and those who have died to 466.

The deaths occurred in 17 elderly individuals from Beaufort (1), Charleston (1), Colleton (2), Darlington (1), Fairfield (3), Florence (1), Horry (2), Lee (1), Orangeburg (1), Richland (3), and Spartanburg (1) counties, and three middle-aged individuals from Beaufort (1), Colleton (1), and Lee (1) counties.

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

(Local Paper) Mounting hostilities over masks in Charleston-area restaurants take toll on food community

As diners’ opinions on the suitability of masks for restaurant settings this weekend hardened into bayonets to aim at their opposite number, the founder of a Facebook group which has emerged as the leading clearinghouse for Charleston restaurant information came close to shutting down her site.

“The mask-and-glove debate has become a third job,” Christine England of Lowcountry Eat Out! said on Tuesday in an announcement streamed on Facebook Live, during which she revealed new rules to get the group’s 23,000 members back on topic.

“If you’re going to comment ‘How do we eat with a mask on?’ or ‘Stay home if you don’t like it,’ there are like 3 million COVID groups where you can do that,” she continued. “The goal of this group is to support restaurants.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government

South Carolina’s DHEC announces the Latesy state figures– 253 new cases of Covid19+6 deaths

The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced that 110,316 tests for COVID-19 have been performed in South Carolina since May 1.

Earlier this month, DHEC and its community partners set a goal to test two percent of the state’s population, or 110,000 South Carolinians, by May 31. As of today, South Carolina has exceeded that goal.

“We want South Carolinians to know that DHEC is doing everything we can to stop the spread of COVID-19, and a key component of that is increasing our testing capacity,” said Rick Toomey, DHEC Director. “DHEC continues to work with federally qualified health centers, hospitals, and other community partners to expand COVID-19 testing across the state as part of our statewide testing strategy. Together, we can increase the availability of testing and help everyone continue to take the steps needed to help slow the spread of COVID-19.”

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

(Local Paper) South Carolina absentee voters won’t need a witness due to coronavirus, court rules

A federal court ruled Monday that South Carolina must allow all voters to use absentee ballots without the signature of a witness to keep coronavirus from spreading at the polls in the June primary election.

“Were it not for the current pandemic, then this element may have cut the other way,” U.S. District Court Judge Michelle Childs wrote in the finding. “Strikingly, the witness requirement would still apply to voters who have already contracted COVID-19, therefore affirmatively mandating that an infected individual … risk exposing the witness.”

The state had required a witness signature for absentee voters, which several plaintiffs argued in two separate lawsuits would pose an unnecessary risk and could disenfranchise swaths of voters adhering to social distancing measures.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, State Government

(The State) South Carolina museums, amusement parks and more allowed to reopen ahead of Memorial Day weekend

In his latest move to reopen the economy after shutting it down to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, Gov. Henry McMaster is now allowing attractions and amusement parks to reopen on Friday, just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

The governor’s order on Wednesday lifted restrictions on arcades; tourist attractions such as museums, aquariums, planetariums, mini-golf and go-kart racing; indoor children’s play areas; bingo halls; and venues operated by social clubs such as the VFW.

However, night clubs, bowling alleys, concert venues, theaters, auditoriums, performing arts centers, racetracks and adult entertainment venues still are not allowed to reopen.

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

Latest Figures–No new coronavirus deaths as South Carolina logs 276 new cases, bringing the total to 8,661

At least 8,661 people in South Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 380 have died, according to state health officials.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported…[over 250] new cases of the virus and no additional deaths Friday.

Patients who died were residents of Sumter, Cherokee, Clarendon, Fairfield, Florence and Pickens counties, according to health officials.

Worldwide, more than 4.6 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported and more than 310,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 1.4 million cases and 88,000 deaths have been reported in the United States.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, State Government

(NYT) Utah Lowers Penalty for Polygamy, No Longer a Felony

A new law that took effect in Utah this week has lowered the punishment for polygamy in some cases, making it an infraction similar to a traffic summons instead of a felony punishable by a prison term.

Under Senate Bill 102, which was signed into law by Gov. Gary R. Herbert in March and went into effect on Tuesday, a married person can now take additional spouses at the same time and not be subjected to felony charges, as long as the new spouse entered into the union voluntarily.

But a polygamous marriage is still a felony if it was made by threats, fraud or force or involves abuse. Second-degree felonies can carry prison terms of up to 15 years. Barring other factors, polygamy is now an infraction, which can draw fines of up to $750 and community service.

When it was passed by the State Legislature in February, the bill exposed the debate over multiple marriages in Utah, which is believed to be the state with the highest population of polygamists.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, State Government

Christopher Murray on Face the Nation on the Challenges America Faces as the gradual reopening of the economy begins

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you are looking at mobility through tracking cell phone data. Is this mobility because of loosened restrictions or is it just quarantine fatigue and people are going out and about more than they should?

CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, M.D.: You know, I think it is a bit of both. We’re seeing increases in mobility, even in anticipation of the relaxation of social distancing. But there’s definitely a correlation. The places that are taking off the social distancing mandate, the bump in mobility appears to be larger. So somewhere like Georgia, which was one of the first, we’re seeing, is in that category of– of a pretty big increase. So it’s definitely a mixture of both, we believe.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, we spoke just before you with one of the White House economic advisers who said one of the reasons they’re waiting on more emergency financial aid is because they want to see what happens in the states as they pull back restrictions and whether that leads to a new outbreak of the disease, as Kevin Hassett put it. Do you have any indication that that is happening?

CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, M.D.: Well, I think that the big challenge here is that when we model the relationship between mobility and transmission, most of the data that’s informing that is coming from when people reduce their mobility and we saw a reduction in transmission, you know, namely social distancing works. Now that we’re coming out, the big question mark is will people’s own behavior, acting responsibly, wearing a mask, avoiding physical– coming into physical close contact, will that be enough to counteract the effects of rising mobility? And so we really are going to have to wait and see. Our suspicion is that there will be about ten days from now in these places that have had these big increases in mobility, we are expecting to see a jump in cases.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And what– what places? What are the potential hotspots in the next ten days?

CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, M.D.: Well, as I mentioned a moment ago, the big increases in mobility, there’s five states at the top. Some of those have had modest epidemic so far. So they may not be huge numbers. But, you know, the top five in terms of increasing mobility are Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Georgia. But there’s another ten states or more where there’s been a ten to fifteen percentage point increase of mobility. So pretty– pretty diverse. So we may see quite a lot of states tipping towards increasing cases in the next two weeks.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, State Government

South Carolina to dramatically ramp up testing, contact tracing to stamp out coronavirus

South Carolina’s public health agency plans to test nearly a quarter million people for COVID-19 over the next two months, partnering with healthcare facilities and a private lab as part of a new, coordinated assault on the pandemic.

As part of that new strategy, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control will quickly test all 40,000 residents and employees of South Carolina’s nearly 200 nursing homes, where the respiratory disease can spread quickly and prey on vulnerable residents. At least 84 nursing home residents and employees have died so far from COVID-19.

The agency also is stepping up plans to hire contact tracers. It is identifying a pool of up to 1,000 people who can be hired and trained to track down where the virus has been and where it might spread next, a crucial piece of the state’s outbreak containment strategy.

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