April 15, 2020
A Message from Mayor Weaver
Judging from this past weekend, Kiawah is settling into a largely safe routine for dealing with this pandemic and people are doing what’s necessary to keep themselves and the community safe. Bike paths, the beach, and grocery shopping are safer and more comfortable experiences. If the number of people wearing a face-covering in public is an indication, this health crisis is being taken seriously, as it should. I still hear genuine concerns from residents about whether we are all doing everything we should, and the practice of safe distancing isn’t universal. Yet it would be unfair to the majority of our community to not give credit to our property owners and businesses for all the positive action taken to respond to this emergency.
This weekend talk in Washington and among the media turned to when we can relax restrictions and think about restarting the economy. It is not yet clear how those decisions will be made or where. We shouldn’t expect that these actions will occur at a consistent pace across the nation. Absent a radical change in the number of new COVID-19 cases in South Carolina, I expect that we are in for more weeks of the status quo here on Kiawah, practicing social distancing and crossing our fingers that it works.
Soon, the urge to return to normal activity is likely to kick in, our dedication to social distancing may wane, and our willingness to “stay home” will be tested. Following is a link to an article about Camden, South Carolina. It is a cautionary tale worth reading. Camden, a small and relatively isolated community, became one of this state’s early “hotspots.” Why? Camden is a small, highly social community with lots of overlapping social networks. When the virus became active in one social setting, it was able to spread quickly and widely. Like Kiawah, people in Camden knew each other, and that familiarity may have led to complacency in practicing social distancing. It may have taken only a couple of asymptomatic carriers of the virus in a tightly knit community for the virus to become embedded and take off.
As time goes by it is going be tempting to take more social risks. You see your friends often, they don’t look or act sick, so taking the extra precautions during the golf outing, or having the book club meeting or small group dinner doesn’t seem especially risky. As the next couple weeks drag on Camden’s experience is worth considering. The article is available here.
Home or Work
Last week Governor McMaster joined other governors in issuing a broad stay at home order, which he denoted as “Home or Work.” The Town has fielded questions about how this order affects Kiawah, and since there are quite a few people on the island from other states, with different requirements, it is worth clarifying South Carolina’s order. At the risk of oversimplifying here is the essence of what the Governor and his public health team are asking:
- If you have to do something “essential,” like go to the grocery store, pick up a prescription, or go to one of the few retail businesses still operating, go ahead. But if it’s not all that important, don’t. Think twice about that extra or unneeded trip away from home.
- It is not home isolation. Outdoor exercise is good and being outside is okay. Just be extra careful and courteous. Step aside for each other on the bike paths and boardwalks, keep distanced on the beach. Continue to keep a distance of six feet or more from others (the Governor’s latest order changed this from a suggestion to a requirement).
- If you don’t need to be doing either of the above, then stay home.
This summary leaves out some important details, but if we can go for a while longer following these simple principles, we stand a very good chance of not seeing Kiawah become a hotspot for this virus.
This crisis has and continues to take an enormous toll on the lives of the people who have contracted the virus, and on those, including a large number here on Kiawah, who have seen their jobs or businesses sacrificed in the effort to head it off. The Town’s actions continue to be guided by the directives of the Governor and the State’s public health officials. And we are guided by the feedback we receive from within this community. As I have said before, Kiawah contains a valuable array of experiences and expertise and a diversity of perspective and opinion. We appreciate and pay attention to the feedback that we receive – good and bad, supportive and critical.
Have a good and safe week.