Recent COVID case numbers are on the decline
Lexington Medical Center President and CEO Tod Augsburger addressed West Columbia City Council last week. He said that COVID cases have declined dramatically. By Friday (Oct. 8) there were less than 50 patients at LMC with COVID. On Aug. 26, there were 195 hospitalized at LMC with COVID. In early September, Augsburger told council he was alarmed at the rising numbers of COVID cases. He also said LMC personnel were overwhelmed caring for the sick.
“We are very glad to hear that the COVID numbers are declining,” said West Columbia Mayor Tem Miles.
In early September, with the COVID spike at its highest level, West Columbia instituted a mask ordinance. That ordinance expired Monday.
Miles said he is looking forward to the day when COVID is behind us. But he said he is cautious until then.
“Eventually we can get past COVID, but we still encourage everyone to get vaccinated and take precautions to protect yourself,” Miles said. “That is the key to getting back to a normal, functioning society.”
Earlier this week, the number of COVID cases reported statewide had fallen to below 1,000.
In addition to the City of West Columbia, the Lexington Two School District has taken action to combat the spread of COVID.
In the first three weeks of the 2021-22 school year, more than 2,000 Lexington Two students tested positive for COVID or they were in quarantine, said Lexington Two Superintendent Dr. Nicolas Wade. In early September, four schools and a number of classrooms were relegated to remote learning due to the high quarantine numbers.
At that time, Lexington Two’s Board of Trustees approved an immediate temporary emergency mask requirement for students, employees and visitors.
Wade said the temporary measure was an effort to keep schools in session and reduce the likelihood of classroom and school closures due to quarantine numbers.
To help keep schools open, the City of West Columbia provided a $50,000 grant to Lexington School District Two in an effort to stop the spread of COVID through the implementation of a face-covering mandate. Funds were to be used for the enforcement and messaging regarding the use of a face-covering. The grant was to support in-person instruction, and to help reduce the number of employees who had to take time off of work when children have virtual school.
By the end of Thursday (Oct. 7) there were only 42 COVID positive students in Lexington Two schools and only 156 quarantined students. All schools were meeting in-person, with no classrooms moved to remote learning.
An email from Wade sent to District Two parents last Friday stated: “Our goal was to reduce the quarantine numbers, the numbers of classrooms and schools moving to temporary remote learning, and keep students in school on a consistent schedule and in a safe environment. By all accounts, Lexington Two has been successful.”
The email also stated: “We have achieved this because of all of your continued patience, understanding, and support. It is our continued goal to have all of our stakeholders be meaningfully engaged with one another and continue onward in the good work the district is doing and will continue to do.
While city leaders are cautious, it is encouraging to see that indicators are showing a decline in the COVID rate in West Columbia.