COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - Gov. Henry McMaster and the head of the Department of Health and Environmental Control said this summer will look better than last, but our state is not ready to go 100-percent back to normal.
As South Carolina approaches one year since the first case of COVID-19 was recorded in the state, the governor applauded big vaccination events like the one that took place Friday at Darlington Raceway.
“We couldn’t control the pandemic. We couldn’t control the onset of that, but we didn’t start it but we started this and this is the way you get it done,” McMaster said about the mass vaccination event. “When something like that faces it’s the people of South Carolina who work together and that’s what we’ve done with every asset we have.”
McLeod Health, with assistance from the National Guard and Darlington Raceway, gave 5,400 people their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Friday, a spokesperson for the hospital said.
The hospital said they were able to vaccinate about 500 people an hour Friday and most people were able to get in and out of the vaccination site in 30 to 45 minutes, including the 15-minute wait time recommended after someone receives the vaccine.
“I haven’t seen a Chick-fil-A that runs as good as this, and they do a pretty good job,” South Carolina House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Hartsville, said. Lucas, along with Rep. Tom Rice, joined McMaster as he toured the Darlington vaccination site.
McLeod’s event was one of the first opportunities for people in South Carolina who fall under the phase 1B group to receive their vaccine. Originally, the event had less than a thousand people register to get the shot before they received approval to open it up to more people, a hospital spokesperson said.
This week, McMaster announced people 55 and older, frontline workers with regular contact face-to-face contact with others, and people with health conditions that make them at high risk of serious illness if they were to contract COVID-19, could all start registering to receive their vaccines Monday.
McMaster and other elected officials said events like today’s give them hope.
“We’re going to have to be careful about a long time, but it will be much better than this in the summer time that’s for sure,” McMaster said.
When asked the same question, DHEC’s director Dr. Edward Simmer echoed the Governor’s statement.
“Take precaution. It won’t be quite like a summer pre-COVID,” Simmer said. “But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and I think next summer it’ll be there,” he added.
Everyone who was vaccinated at Darlington Raceway is already scheduled for their second appointment on April 1.
“There is no slow line at Darlington,” the governor said.