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By Robert Scott
A few months ago, I wrote how we in South Carolina have been ignoring federal guidance ever since our state government passed the “Nullification Ordinance” back in 1832, and how we continue to ignore it today when it comes to COVID-19 and common sense. The bad news: COVID is still here, and we can continue to ignore that guidance at our own peril. Here are some facts and figures as of July, 2022.
Fact One: COVID-19 is still here. If you have been ignoring COVID lately, how wonderful to be free from worry! But it’s time to start worrying again. The CDC is not about to try forcing South Carolina into another lockdown; the state would almost certainly react as we did in 1832 (see above). The CDC and our own state DHEC track which counties have what community levels of infection. The good news: Saluda and McCormick Counties have low levels this month; the bad news: Edgefield and Aiken Counties have just returned to high levels. For high levels, the recommendation is to mask up when you are indoors in public (for example, in Church or at the grocery or in school). Nobody likes masks, but they do work. The statistics bear that out, provided people wear then correctly (well-fitting, including the nose)
Fact Two: COVID vaccines and boosters work. No, they don’t guarantee that if you or your family get the vaccines, you will not catch COVID-19. Even President Biden has caught it. Vaccines do make the likelihood of catching it lower than otherwise, but the real payoff is that for those vaccinated and boosted (including children), the chances of having a severe / life-threatening case are very small, even for those at high risk such as the elderly. Several people in my Edgefield church have recently come down with COVID-19, as has my 100-year-old mother. All were fully vaccinated. None have died.
Fact Three: Schools can, and do, require schoolchildren to be vaccinated – but (so far) not for COVID. Depending on the grade level, public schools require children to be vaccinated for diphtheria, tetanusand pertussis; polio; measles, mumps, and rubella; hepatitis A and B; and varicella. Although the level of COVID-19 among children is now a much higher rate relative to everybody else than it was in the spring –the Columbia paper reported this week that COVID-19 related hospitalizations were up 43.7% over last month, and 13 people have died this month – there is not a requirement that children be vaccinated against COVID. Yet. The COVID vaccines are safe and effective for children, yet we South Carolinians are peculiarly sensitive to federal mandates and many refuse to believe the facts, even at the risk of our children’s health.
President Biden’s COVID offers what the Washington Post is calling a teaching moment. First, if the President of the United States, with all the protections he has, still contracts COVID, then it is very likely that many of the rest of us will, too. And second, if at his advanced age he pulls through the disease with little if any ill effects, that will not be due to luck but rather to his being fully vaccinated. The lesson to be learned: make sure you, and your children too, are fully vaccinated. Even if neither the state nor the federal government is making you do so, you should do it anyway. It’s not about somebody else’s health, it’s about your health – and that of your neighbors and friends, too.