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Shelves such as these at IGA continue to remain bare of items like toilet paper as citizens buy up everything as soon as the products become available. Some places, including IGA, have placed a limit on purchases of certain items such as bread.

Photo by Michaele Duke

At time of print Williamsburg County had not reported a case of the COVID-19. That’s good news but citizens continue to be vigilant while we work to get past the pandemic. Businesses are following executive orders to help keep us safe while first responders, the medical establishment, law enforcement, and other agencies continue to do their jobs.

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Bank of Greeleyville teller Shelby McClam displays the gloves she wears at work. Banks across the state are servicing drive-thru customers in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Photo by Michaele Duke

Williamsburg Regional Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Troy Gamble said they are waiting on COVID-19 test results of four patients. “The hardest part about this is it takes three to four days for turn around,” he said. “I think they’re going to have a rapid test available within the next couple of days, but right now we’re on a four-day turnaround.” Some news outlets have reported there could be a shortage of supplies but Gamble said they are in good shape. “Our management director has done a great job of making sure we have all of that but as a small hospital like ours, it really drains resources quickly because anytime you go into a room you have to put on a gown and gloves and mask.”

Gamble said so far the hospital hasn’t been overwhelmed and the volume in outpatient clinics is down by 40 percent. “Most people have been staying at home. It’s remarkable,” said Gamble. “People are calling in and canceling and self-isolating, which is good.” He said after looking at the county’s demographics he feels even better. “Even though our population is shrinking, the vast majority of our population is below 60. That’s a good thing because young people tend to recover so things aren’t quite so dismal.”  

In the meantime, Williams-burg County School District (WCSD) continues to screamline the delivery of lessons and meals. WCSD Superintendent Dr. Rose Wilder said of the 3,500 students, less than 60 instructional packets have not been delivered and arrangements have been made to deliver those remaining packets.” The original date to return the packets was March 27; however, Wilder said that has been moved up to March 31.

Wilder said food service has been modified and the number of kitchens has been narrowed down from 10 to four. Students will receive meals two days a week. “We’re trying to streamline the process as much as possible,” she said. “We’re just trying to work smart and at the same time, conserve and save money.”

In the coming days or weeks some business owners, like James Thompkins believe as supplies become more limited, conditions may get worse. “Cleaning supplies are getting very limited. Toilet paper is almost gone,” said Thompkins. He’s also doing his part to keep the store as clean as possible. “Until we run out, we’ve got sanitary wipes at every register. We’re wiping down every hour like keypads and we keep them at the door to wipe down the buggies.”

Thompkins worries as supplies become scarce customer’s tempers may flare. “Probably you’ll see the National Guard,” said Thompkins. “That would probably be a good thing because our police department would be overwhelmed. I would welcome actually welcome a curfew.” Tompkins challenges pastors to reach out to their elderly congregation. “You know you have elderly. You know you have shut-ins. Call us. What we have, we’ll get it ready for you to deliver to your congregation as needed.”

By now most of us know what to do but a few reminders are if you feel sick stay home. If your children are sick, keep them at home. If someone in your household has tested positive keep the entire family at home. if you are an older person or have a serious underlying health condition, stay home. Do not visit nursing homes, retirement homes or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.

Work from home whenever possible, avoid social groups of more than 10 people and avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurant and food courts. And always wash your hands, avoid touching your face cough or sneeze in a tissue or the inside of your elbow and disinfect frequently.