It’s time for SC to walk our big talk on re­open­ing the state

The State - - Opinion - BY ROGER BROWN rjbrown@thes­tate.com Opin­ion Edi­tor Roger Brown can be reached at (803) 771-8464 or by email at rjbrown@thes­tate.com.. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @Rbrown_s­copin.

Well, South Carolina, we’ve been yelling for it to hap­pen.

We’ve been plead­ing for it to hap­pen.

And in some cases we’ve lit­er­ally been gathering in mobs on streets and loudly protest­ing for it to hap­pen.

And so it has.

Gov. Henry Mcmaster has re­lented.

Mcmaster has felt the ris­ing heat and dra­mat­i­cally loos­ened the re­stric­tions that were put in place when the deadly coro­n­avirus be­gan its march across South Carolina sev­eral weeks ago. And in do­ing so Mcmaster has ac­cel­er­ated the process of fully re­open­ing our state while we’re still con­tin­u­ing to fight COVID-19.

Wait!

Whoa!

Hang on a minute!

What about the fact that it’s not un­com­mon for the coro­n­avirus to kill South Carolini­ans at a dou­ble-fig­ure clip dur­ing a sin­gle day? What about the fact that it’s not un­com­mon to have 200-plus new cases of COVID-19 dur­ing a sin­gle day?

Yeah, yeah. And?

OK, but what about the fact that while COVID-19 cases do ap­pear to be lev­el­ing off in in our state, we haven’t had 14 straight days of in­creas­ingly lower num­bers — which is what should be ide­ally hap­pen­ing in a state be­fore you de­cide to rapidly re­open it? You know, be­fore you start to act as though things are back to nor­mal?

Look, never mind all that.

OK, but what about the fact that while we are step­ping up our abil­ity to test more South Carolini­ans for COVID-19, we still rank among the bot­tom five U.S. states in tests ad­min­is­tered per capita?

Don’t worry about it. Well, OK, but what about the fact that ac­cord­ing to the met­rics col­lected by a com­pany that an­a­lyzes cell­phone data,

South Carolina gets an “F” grade when it comes to prac­tic­ing so­cial distancing — which is one of the key el­e­ments to stop­ping the spread of the coro­n­avirus?

What­ever.

I mean, we could go on here.

But what’s the need? It’s clear that we’re now in the “go on ahead al­ready — give it some gas!” phase of speed­ing up the re­open­ing of South Carolina.

It’s clear that we’re ready to bet that by speed­ing things up, the cloud of dust we’ll create be­hind us will ob­scure the cloud of COVID-19 still hov­er­ing over us.

It’s a huge leap of faith we’re tak­ing.

And we’d bet­ter hope and pray that it’s the right one.

The truth is I re­ally can’t blame Mcmaster for tak­ing this step: given the re­lent­less pres­sure he’s been un­der to fling open South Carolina’s doors, it’s un­fair to ques­tion him for bend­ing to it.

But there are ques­tions that are to­tally fair to pose right now — and they’re not for Mcmaster.

They’re for the rest of us.

Here’s one:

Af­ter do­ing all of this clam­or­ing for our state to be quickly re­opened, are we ready to stop scream­ing and start prov­ing that it’s the right de­ci­sion right now?

Here’s an­other: Now that we have fewer re­stric­tions on go­ing wher­ever we want, are we ready to show the sense of per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity and good judg­ment to ac­cept that doesn’t mean do­ing so when­ever we want — not as long as all South Carolini­ans re­main at risk of catch­ing and dy­ing from this mod­ern­day plague?

We’d bet­ter have the right an­swers for those ques­tions.

And we’d bet­ter have them start­ing now.

It’s one thing to raise up a sign and de­mand the abil­ity to do what we want. But it’s an­other thing to rise up to the mo­ment when we ac­tu­ally get what want. And that mo­ment is here.

It’s time for us to walk all of our big talk, South Carolina.

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