I was reading the weekly Mayor's Message from Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka who shared some rather interesting information.
Last weekend the RBC Heritage was in town and PGA player Justin Thomas made national news when he said that Hilton Head Island was "an absolute zoo," referring to the many people, whom he saw, were gathered in crowds at the beach and at restaurants, without following safety precautions.
Sulka strongly encouraged residents, though they are "pandemic fatigued," to "please stay safe and be mindful of yours, your family’s and your neighbors’ health and safety."
She pointed to the facts that new cases of the virus are five times when South Carolina averaged at the start of the pandemic.
"Below are the reported new cases statewide during the last three days:
Sunday, June 21: 907 new cases
Monday, June 22: 1002 new cases
Tuesday, June 23: 890 new cases "
As a means to encourage restaurant employees and customers safe, she referred to Governor McMaster's "Palmetto Priority" initiative. She wrote:
"...it encourages restaurants to follow federal and state health regulations regarding COVID-19. These guidelines include staff members wearing masks and sanitizing tables and menus after each customer visit.
Restaurants whose employees complete the Palmetto Priority training and follow the guidelines will be given a decal to display in their restaurant’s window. Some of those guidelines include completing a DHEC virtual food safety check, restaurant managers completing a ServSafe Reopening Guidance: COVID-19 Precautions course and restaurant employees adhering to the minimum standards as outlined by the SC Restaurant and Lodging Association Reopening Precautions. Customers can also report restaurants which are not in compliance to the Palmetto Priority project. For more information about this initiative: www.palmettopriority.com."
But what really opened my eyes (and the eyes of many Lowcountry parents) was this:
South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said Monday 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.
“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,” Spearman said.
Spearman said teaching and learning is obviously more effective in a classroom with person to person instruction, however, student health concerns are paramount to the decision regarding when schools are safe to reopen.
And do you remember back when the pandemic began? Shortly after the COVID cases in the northeast began to skyrocket, McMaster said that any residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut who want to visit South Carolina would first have to quarantine for 14 days. How times have changed.
Today, the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have also issued a 14-day mandatory quarantine for anyone from South Carolina, and other states with a high-infection rate, if they come to those states.
"Bottom line: we all have to do our part to help cases decrease statewide. I thank you for all your efforts during this pandemic. The sacrifices and precautions you take today, will help our community and state be on a better path tomorrow. "
Thank you Mayor Sulka. You are absolutely right. The images we see of crowded beaches and busy restaurants where there is no social distancing and no precautions like masks make us all more vulnerable. If we're going to try and beat this thing, we all have to work together, and that just isn't happening...yet.