CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – In the year of the pandemic, we close out 2020 with vaccines now being administrated across the United States. We look back at the virus’ impact on the Lowcountry and how it has changed our community.
On March 6th, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced the first two possible cases of COVID-19 in the state were under investigation. State health officials say more cases were likely, but at the time said the threat to the general public was low.
That would change about a week later.
“Effective immediately, I have ordered the closing of all schools in the state of South Carolina,” said Governor Henry McMaster on March 15th, announcing he has closed all schools, colleges and university amid a spike in cases.
“We know it’s going to spread, but we want it to be manageable. That’s why we’re taking these steps,” he said during the news conference.
Two weeks tuned into the rest of the school year, with parents, and students, forced into a new way of learning… and Zoom became a way of life.
At the end of March, Congressman Joe Cunningham became the first Lowcountry lawmaker to announce he had contracted the virus. His symptoms were very mild, despite losing taste and smell, he recovered at home.
More cancellations would be announced a time later. The annual Cooper River Bridge Run the Flowertown Festival and the tennis tournament at the Volvo Car Stadium were all postponed and eventually cancelled for the year, setting up the next big move by the governor.
“I am issuing a mandatory home or work order,” Governor McMaster announced from the state’s emergency operations center in Columbia.
On April 6th, following the City of Charleston and Town of Mount Pleasant issuing ‘stay at home’ orders to flatten the curve, Gov. McMaster issued that ‘home or work’ order and closed all non-essential businesses, limiting restaurant to carry out or delivery only.
Like most of the country, it had predictably devastating economic impacts, and in early May, facing pressure from the struggling economy and thousands losing their jobs, McMaster lifted his orders, and allowed indoor dining to resume with capacity restrictions, barber shops and salons later reopened in mid-May.
“If these numbers aren’t a spike, I don’t know what is,” said Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie during a news conference, showing an increase in cases.
With case counts surging after Memorial Day, and the reopening of beaches, mask mandates started spreading through the state in July.
“These are not numbers we should be proud of, so what can we do? The simplest thing is to require masks,” said Mayor Haynie.
Those mandates impacted a majority of the Lowcountry.
Then, July brought more cancellations. Fireworks displays were reduced to backyard shows. And as numbers in South Carolina started to show promise, parents held out hope that school year would start on time and back in the classroom.
But July also brough another alarming first; the first confirmed cases of MIS-C in South Carolina. A rare inflammatory condition impacting children associated with COVID-19.
“For the number of people in South Carolina, which is fewer than a lot of other states, you know, we have a population similar to New York City, so if you keep that in mind, South Carolina has seen a large number of MIS-C cases, which is very worrisome.”
By the end of August, the Medical University of South Carolina would become the first in the country authorized to use a treatment for MIS-C called Ryoncil, a treatment that shows great promise. Come the end of the year, we are still dealing with the pandemic. Cases are spiking once again, schools