In crisis, neighbors keep watch on one another

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Weston Newton

(Editor's Note: As of our press day, March 27, at noon, the number of COVID-19 cases in South Carolina was 456. Schools remain closed through April 30.)

(Editor's Note: As of our press day, March 27, at noon, the number of COVID-19 cases in South Carolina was 456. Schools remain closed through April 30.)

When last I contributed to this page, Rose and I, along with family (minus Reedy) were headed out for a skiing vacation. It was the long President's Day weekend and Colorado was beckoning.

Rose had recently given the MBA commencement address at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. The speech was some time in preparation, was very well received, and a small vacation seemed in order.

We were aware there was a new coronavirus menacing China, with some ominous flashbacks to the 1918 flu pandemic. On that day, the risk for us in America seemed, if not minimal, at least manageable.

At this writing, there are 29 cases of coronavirus in South Carolina, with today (March 16) recording the first fatality in the state. Not only had the Newton vacationers not taken the threat seriously, our Washington protectors were too busy vilifying one another to give this deadly virus the seriousness it deserved.

Our neighbors in Europe also realized too late that the Eurasian Plain, vast though it is, offered no protection from this burgeoning epidemic. They continue to pay dearly for their lack of preparation.

Fortunately, when the founders of our nation were arguing over the Constitution and what structure the new nation would take, they chose the federal model, whereby different levels of government are asked to be responsible for certain tasks. Recently, while coronavirus flourished, and as the government in Washington was confused, divided, and in paralysis - content to engage in pre-electoral combat - the states, prominently including South Carolina, picked up the slack. The redundancy built into our system, once again, is serving us well.

Just today, the last of our K-12 public schools are closed, but will still offer meals to those children who depend on the schools for proper nutrition. Our municipalities are working with largely skeleton staffing, allowing most employees to attend to children and elderly parents, who are particularly vulnerable to this, no longer epidemic, but pandemic.

The good news is this: We are paying attention, not only to the coronavirus, but also to each other. The news might focus on people hoarding toilet paper, but in my neighborhood and in our little town, folks are checking on their neighbors, especially older neighbors. We're not panicked, but simply preparing to ride this thing out, for as long as it takes. Together.

Many of our hospitals now employ telemedicine to see patients without either medical personnel or potential patients being put in jeopardy. This was a technology pushed for many years by the state of South Carolina, in conjunction with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). I am proud to report that my House Delegation colleague, Rep. Bill Herbkersman of Bluffton, was one of the early supporters and a legislative protector of the funding for its adoption. In our present circumstance, telemedicine is a priceless part of our medical regime.

So there it is: We are all being called to service. Keep close watch on your family, friends, and neighbors. We are in this together.

Weston Newton is the representative for District 120 in the State House of Representatives. WestonNewton@schouse.gov

(minus Reedy) were headed out for a skiing vacation. It was the long President's Day weekend and Colorado was beckoning.

Rose had recently given the MBA commencement address at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. The speech was some time in preparation, was very well received, and a small vacation seemed in order.

We were aware there was a new coronavirus menacing China, with some ominous flashbacks to the 1918 flu pandemic. On that day, the risk for us in America seemed, if not minimal, at least manageable.

At this writing, there are 29 cases of coronavirus in South Carolina, with today (March 16) recording the first fatality in the state. Not only had the Newton vacationers not taken the threat seriously, our Washington protectors were too busy vilifying one another to give this deadly virus the seriousness it deserved.

Our neighbors in Europe also realized too late that the Eurasian Plain, vast though it is, offered no protection from this burgeoning epidemic. They continue to pay dearly for their lack of preparation.

Fortunately, when the founders of our nation were arguing over the Constitution and what structure the new nation would take, they chose the federal model, whereby different levels of government are asked to be responsible for certain tasks. Recently, while coronavirus flourished, and as the government in Washington was confused, divided, and in paralysis - content to engage in pre-electoral combat - the states, prominently including South Carolina, picked up the slack. The redundancy built into our system, once again, is serving us well.

Just today, the last of our K-12 public schools are closed, but will still offer meals to those children who depend on the schools for proper nutrition. Our municipalities are working with largely skeleton staffing, allowing most employees to attend to children and elderly parents, who are particularly vulnerable to this, no longer epidemic, but pandemic.

The good news is this: We are paying attention, not only to the coronavirus, but also to each other. The news might focus on people hoarding toilet paper, but in my neighborhood and in our little town, folks are checking on their neighbors, especially older neighbors. We're not panicked, but simply preparing to ride this thing out, for as long as it takes. Together.

Many of our hospitals now employ telemedicine to see patients without either medical personnel or potential patients being put in jeopardy. This was a technology pushed for many years by the state of South Carolina, in conjunction with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). I am proud to report that my House Delegation colleague, Rep. Bill Herbkersman of Bluffton, was one of the early supporters and a legislative protector of the funding for its adoption. In our present circumstance, telemedicine is a priceless part of our medical regime.

So there it is: We are all being called to service. Keep close watch on your family, friends, and neighbors. We are in this together.

Weston Newton is the representative for District 120 in the State House of Representatives. WestonNewton@schouse.gov

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