Not since the summer has South Carolina reached new highs in COVID-19 cases like the new daily and seven-day average records of last week.
But unlike summer, South Carolina has fewer restrictions.
The state allows large gatherings, with more than 300 events planned this month that could draw hundreds of thousands to parades, ball games and weekend events.
Nursing homes can have visitors, of which more than 150 of them allow indoor visits.
And restaurants can go to full capacity without restrictions on seating distance.
Yes, there are precautions.
For 250 people or more, state approval is required, but no one checks whether the organizers follow the promised safety measures.
No indoor visits are allowed in nursing homes if an employee tested positive for COVID-19 during the previous two weeks.
Restaurant brokers and workers must wear war masks and liquor sales must end at 23.00
South Carolina has come a long way from a home order and a ban on non-essential businesses since the outbreak began in the spring.
But the case is increasing when cooler temperatures drive more South Carolina indoors and more people visit family and friends for the holidays. Daily falls broke the 3,000 mark for the first time ever just two weeks after Thanksgiving.
State epidemiologist Linda Bell, who acknowledged last week that “We are not close to the end of this”, says that the number of SC counties with falling fall data has gone from 35 to six in just over a month.
She added that the state could prevent 1,000 of the estimated 3,000 COVID-19 deaths from occurring in April if 95 percent of South Carolina people wore masks.
South Carolina is still one of 15 states without worms, although nine counties and 55 cities require facials.
“There is significant control over what we see,” Bell said during a COVID briefing with Gov. Henry McMaster. “And this public health (crisis) is not about politics. The virus does not harm people or save people based on your political beliefs. We must follow the scientific evidence when deciding what to do.”
McMaster, a former U.S. attorney general, said at the briefing that he would not impose restrictions based on economics and his interpretation of the law. He reiterated that South Carolines should take personal responsibility for following security measures that slow down the coronavirus.
The governor mentioned other states with more COVID restrictions that had higher unemployment and said they have destroyed economies, businesses and families.
South Carolina had the country’s seventh lowest unemployment rate in October, just ahead of Georgia.
New York and California, a goal for McMaster previously, were ranked among the top five.
“I think we’re doing our best,” McMaster said last week. “We will not close South Carolina.”
Then there is his legal argument.
“When you close a business, you are potentially killing that company or taking that property away from the individual and that is a constitutional issue involved,” he said. This was a major concern as to why McMaster was reluctant to issue a home order in the spring.
In addition, he pushed for the resumption of nursing homes, despite reporting one in three of the state’s COVID-19 deaths, so that people can control their loved ones.
Add all this and expect no new restrictions soon.
Still, the call for caution is growing.
Senate Minority Leader Brad Hutto wrote to McMaster last week, demanding that he order a 90-day mandate nationwide, something the governor has said cannot be enforced.
“Wearing a mask is not a political statement, no more than wearing a seat belt,” the Orangeburg Democrat wrote. “We are committed to using seat belts even though we know we do not have the staff to ensure 100 percent compliance.”
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, who leads a city that has adopted a worm rule since the summer, said McMaster has the power to restrict activities that spread the virus as he did when he issued a home order.
“The question is whether he has the will or not,” Benjamin said.
McMaster certainly has his reasons. And he will look for further confirmation when new government unemployment figures come out on Friday and he can see how well the South Carolina economy is performing.