To the Editor:

In July, Beaufort County was awash in Coronavirus, and our community felt it. One-third of Beaufort Memorial beds were occupied with COVID-19 victims. The ICU was full of ventilated patients. And, community testing results were reported in weeks, instead of crucial days necessary to limit exposure to others.

The county and city mask ordinances passed at that time resulted in a precipitous drop in COVID-19. Cases declined steadily, the number of hospitalized patients lowered dramatically, students returned to public schools in-person or following a hybrid model, and restrictions on our way of life eased perceptibly.

As we enter the fall and holiday seasons, and as activities move indoors, we will be more vulnerable to COVID-19. Without a reliable model to test and track the virus in our community, wearing masks is crucial to its containment. There is simply too much unwitting, asymptomatic spread of the virus for us to drop our guard.

While the Beaufort City Council, as well as the Town Councils of Port Royal and Bluffton, are to be commended for extending their mask ordinances, the expiration of the Beaufort County ordinance in the name of civil liberties is troubling.

We have laws that prohibit driving while intoxicated, speeding on county roads and smoking in restaurants to protect the public. If we plan to keep schools open, visit with our aging parents and avoid overwhelming our local healthcare providers, we need to protect the public from this virus, too.

Universal mask wearing in our community has proven vital and effective, and it is absolutely necessary to prevent another surge.

Don’t underestimate the public’s willingness to keep each other safe by complying. We understand there is simply too much at stake.

Stephen Larson, MD

Chairman of Emergency Medicine

Beaufort Memorial Hospital

To the Editor:

Our state is one of the few states still to have straight-party voting. Voters can vote for all the candidates running for partisan offices by simply making one mark on their ballot to select a party rather than by individually selecting the candidates who are listed for each office on the ballot. 

In the 2016 general election, 50.42% of voters in South Carolina voted that way.

It is certainly easier to vote by just making one mark next to the name of a party, but I believe it is not the best way. It seems better for voters to take the time and effort to select each candidate individually.

In some cases the result will still be to vote for candidates belonging to just one party, but in others voters will vote for whomever they think is the best candidate regardless of party. 

As someone who has voted for candidates of both major parties in the past, I have done the same in the current election. Because we need the best candidates to represent us, I urge other voters to do the same. 

Fran Holt

Moss Creek