[image-1]City of Charleston officials unveiled a three-step plan to modify the local stay-at-home ordinance on Friday, with the end goal of fully restoring economic activity. The first step in the recovery strategy, shutting the city down, has already been implemented.

The second step, strategic reopening, is dependent on three conditions, two of which have already been met thanks to social distancing measures, according to Mayor John Tecklenburg.

“We’ve been flattening the curve,” he said at a press conference on April 17. “We’ve been successful over the last few weeks with folks staying home and staying distant to contain this contagion.”

Charleston County has 383 COVID-19 positive patients, at a rate of 93.1 cases per 100,000 citizens, according to state health officials’ April 16 count. This rate is comparatively low to some of the hardest hit parts of the U.S., like New York, which Tecklenburg says is a good sign for Charleston. “Over time, as this community listened and cooperated and stayed at home and distanced, the curve was lowered,” he said. “It’s a remarkable thing that this community has done.”


To complete the second step, the city needs stronger testing and contact tracing capabilities. Tecklenburg assured citizens at the press conference that more tests are on the way and should be available “in the near future,” though no date was provided.

If these measures are met, the city’s plan says, most businesses and public spaces may be reopened with continued social distancing and limited crowd sizes. “Even when we reopen, it’s going to be a continuation of distancing,” the mayor said.

The final step is for life to return to normal, after a vaccine or treatment is made widely available, with a greater investment in public health infrastructure to protect against future pandemics. While the prospect of normalcy may lead some to want to rush the process, Tecklenburg reminded citizens that “we are still in the red zone.”

Reopening parts of the nation has become a hot topic late in the week, thanks to President Donald Trump calling to “liberate” some states after protesters gathered to argue against stay-at-home ordinances.

Gov. Henry McMaster announced yesterday that South Carolina will reopen public boat ramps and docks today, a move the police department says it supports, if done responsibly.

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