Yesterday South Carolina hit a grim milestone: 10,000 people in this small state have lost their lives to Covid-19. It's hard to fathom the true cost in suffering of that number. Not just the physical suffering of the people who died, but the emotional cost to the loved ones left behind.
It didn't have to be this way. But here we are.
Here's where we also are: the Delta variant is spreading like wildfire in South Carolina and our infection rate, hospitalizations, and death rates are skyrocketing. All while half the population (at least) act like nothing is happening and the pandemic is over. It actually was almost over at the beginning of the summer, but with the variant out there now and such a huge percentage of the population acting like it's their God-given right to go around unvaccinated and unmasked, we're as bad off now as we were back in February. Misinformation about vaccines is rampant here. A local doctor (a guy I went to high school with) said the number one reason his patients give for not getting vaccinated is that they feel it's not "loyal to the GOP". It's maddening that a virus that threatens our very lives has been turned into a political issue.
Speaking of which, I'm beginning to wonder if governor McMaster (nicknamed, fittingly, "McDisaster") is trying to kill us all off. He's joined other Republican governors in the South in making it illegal to require masking in schools or to offer a virtual option this year. Yes, friends, you read that right. It's illegal and we'll lose our federal funding if we require students and staff to wear masks, and we're not allowed to have a virtual option this year, either. Several school districts in Texas and Florida (two states with governors almost worse than SC) are openly defying these laws and filing lawsuits. All while our schools are a hotbed of Covid transmission.
The students at my school will have been back for two weeks tomorrow. Several students and a couple of staff members have contracted Covid already, and as of early this morning we had over 50 students who have been sent home to quarantine for several days because of close contact with an infected classmate. The number was probably more like 70 by the end of the day. Our school nurse, Lisa, is being run ragged trying to keep up with the tsunami that's her workload this year. She has to document everything, explain the quarantine process to scared parents, finish reports for the county health department, in addition to the normal middle school nurse duties. Normal duties like the little girl that had an accident in gym class and broke her arm this afternoon. It's a giant mess. Pretty soon so many kids are going to be at home quarantining that I'm not sure how we're going to continue to have normal school days. It's that bad.
Needless to say, it's back to masking and being super careful for me. I worry about the kids too young to get vaccinated, and the ones who are eligible but whose parents won't do let them have it. And then there's the teachers and staff: one teacher at our school has Multiple Sclerosis and was taking a type of treatment for it back in the spring that meant she couldn't take the vaccine. She has a choice: come to work, unvaccinated out of medical necessity, and risk her life with the highly contagious Delta variant that we KNOW is all around us, or stop working to protect herself and lose her career and income.
What the hell kind of place do I live in to allow such a thing to be possible?