The spread of the coronavirus, particularly in colder areas of the country, has governors turning back to restrictions on people’s lives. A focus is preventing Thanksgiving from becoming a super-spreader day and period.
From California to Pennsylvania, leaders have announced they are closing businesses or curtailing operational hours, and in some cases they are ordering people to stay home.
A record-breaking nearly 70,000 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus in the U.S. as of Sunday, 13,000 more than a week earlier, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Deaths in the U.S. are running at more than 1,100 per day on average, an increase of over 50% from early October. The virus is blamed for more than 246,000 deaths and over 11 million confirmed infections in the U.S.
South Carolina is feeling the effects also. The seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in the state is over 1,400 for the first time since the summer.
But rather than threaten to arrest people for gathering in larger numbers than ordered and closing businesses, Gov. Henry McMaster is stopping short of mandates. It stays with the personal-responsibility approach the governor has taken all along during the coronavirus pandemic.
He and state officials spoke out Monday, urging South Carolinians to take the threat of spreading the virus seriously.
"We recognize that the holiday season is a sacred time, and we encourage South Carolinians to avoid indoor gatherings and maintain their commitment to activities that reduce the spread of COVID-19," the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control said in a statement.
McMaster said he continues to believe any orders regarding wearing masks and other practices should come on the local level. And while mask ordinances remain in effect in Orangeburg and other locations around The T&D Region, we join the governor in the belief that personal responsibility is the key.
So rather than canceling holiday gatherings, take precautions, both in getting to the event and while present. The Centers for Disease Control says:
• Wear a mask.
• Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• Keep hand sanitizer with you and use it when you are unable to wash your hands.
• Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils.
• Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use.
• Have conversations with others ahead of time to set expectations for celebrating together.
• And because the flu can be spread as easily at such a gathering as the coronavirus, getting a flu shot now is highly advised.
People this Thanksgiving have to make decisions about how to gather and with whom, with many ultimately deciding against traditional events. Others will limit their festivities to those with whom they live are around frequently. Bringing in family and friends from multiple locations around the state and beyond is putting all present at risk.
No matter what you decide, exercise the personal responsibility that is being expected of South Carolinians. In other words, use common sense.
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