Is economic health at odds with public health?

Is economic health at odds with public health?
(Source: AP)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - New COVID-19 cases and related deaths reported on Tuesday by DHEC in our state nearly tripled overnight. We do not know if that was because of testing backlogs or if the situation has worsened.

On Monday, Governor Henry McMaster put his trust in the people of the Palmetto State by easing some restrictions. The mission, to ensure South Carolina’s economic health remains stable.

“Imagine a race,” said Governor McMaster. “We want to be able to slingshot around the competition and get back up to full speed as soon as we can.”

State Representative, Chris Wooten out of Lexington, says 80% of calls he receives are from constituents wanting to return to work.

“It’s going to be horrific if we’re not careful,” says Wooten. “We need to do it slow and steadily.”

"The small business folks are not worried about the almighty dollar," adds Wooten. "We are worried about making a living and providing for our family."

An approach Wooten believes Governor McMaster takes with the latest initiative to allow retail stores to open.

“The Governor is not sitting back and flipping a coin,” Wooten stated. “The finest and brightest folks advise him on what to do.”

"For the small business owners around the state, to be able to go to their job, things that they have worked for the last 20 to 25 years, and not let it tank and go all to waste."

However, South Carolina has not seen a 14-day decline in cases, which the Trump Administration suggests before easing restrictions.

“What we’re risking by doing that is an upsurge in the number of cases,” Dr. Anthony Alberg, UofSC Arnold School of Public Health Professor and Chair of Epidemiology and Biostats said. “It would be like a wildfire erupting, and we would lose the containment we’ve had and flattening of the curve.”

On Monday, DHEC reported 64 new cases, while Tuesday, it was 172. Dr. Alberg says its too soon to relax guidelines. He’d like to see NEW cases per day in South Carolina be between five to 10 people before scaling back stay at home orders.

"Low-level transmission that could be controllable would be

key criteria," Dr. Alberg added.

He adds South Carolina needs greater access to testing and to find who among us already been infected.

“To be able to manage that workforce... So, that’s what I am saying to me things seem premature,” said Dr. Alberg. “We’re a long way off. We don’t have enough testing nearly in place to manage that.”

"To be confident in a place to control the future spread of disease, we would have widespread testing for both active infection and the supply chain is not where it should be now."

As of Monday, less than a percent of our population has been tested.

"We have not rushed a thing," stressed Governor McMaster on Monday. "As you have noticed from the beginning, we have been deliberate, measured, and cautious with every step we've taken."

"What we're risking by taking the pressure off too soon is letting the Cornovarius infect more individuals and get a spike in a number of cases and deaths," added Dr. Alberg.

Businesses that do open their doors must adhere to social distancing rules and limit customer capacity.

"As a former football coach, you get 11 players on the field, whether you like the coach or play, if you all run it together you'll score and be successful," Wooten said.

"A lot of disease and deaths have been prevented by measures taken so far, and I think we should continue to exert those measures," added Dr. Alberg.

Dr. Alberg told WIS we do not see cases prevented through these measures taken to date. He adds we also need to test all healthcare workers to keep them safe to handle future COVID-19 cases.

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