Dr. Danielle Scheurer of MUSC Health gets the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine | Photo via MUSC Health by Sarah Pack

Where is Gov. Henry McMaster? Where is the state legislature? Where are the state public health regulators? South Carolina has one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the nation, and our elected officials aren’t doing a damned thing to help.

In fact, they’ve taken city and school district leaders to court in a primitive political pissing match that will cause more unvaccinated children to get COVID-19.

When Republicans talk about small government, this is what they mean these days: Thousands of school-aged South Carolina kids at home or in hospitals with COVID-19. The GOP crew talks selfishly about personal freedom and individual rights. It doesn’t apparently matter that more than 10,700 people are dead in S.C. from this virus — equivalent to the population of Moncks Corner.

It didn’t have to be like this, and there is still time to change course and save lives.

But if McMaster and his administration are dead-set on remaining disconnected, aloof, ignorant, cruel and dispassionate, the rest of us are going to have to fight for ourselves.

Of course, the tried-and-true ways of fighting COVID-19 still work. Washing your hands and wearing a mask when you’re around others will help cut down the spread of the disease and its highly contagious variants.

If you’re eligible, get the vaccine — more than 2 million people in South Carolina already have. If you haven’t, please, please, please get the vaccine. You may help save the life of a loved one or a complete stranger.

Get. Vaccinated. Now. Just get it.

As this pandemic has worn on, we’ve learned a few new ways to boost vaccinations and help stop COVID-19: 

Local governments should set an example and mandate employee vaccinations. Yes, state leaders are doing their best to stop local governments from acknowledging the threat of COVID-19. But S.C. counties, cities and towns are some of the biggest employers in the state — more than 10,000 people keep local governments running in the Charleston area alone. North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey stepped out as the first local leader to mandate the 1,101 people who work for the city get the shot by November. Charleston County followed suit. Other local leaders should do the same.

If you’re an employer, consider mandating COVID-19 vaccination for employees. Vaccine mandates are not a one-size-fits-all remedy for all employers. As we’ve all learned, many private-sector jobs can be done safely from home. But particularly if your employees interact with the public, please consider requiring workers to get the shot.

Support local businesses mandating vaccines. A few local businesses have taken brave steps to be the first to mandate vaccines for employees or customers. Charleston Music Hall and the Gaillard Center deserve credit for taking a firm stance in defense of the other guests and visiting artists by mandating vaccines for everyone attending performances. Find a show and buy some tickets. Support these and other businesses doing more than our state officials to stop COVID-19.

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