Less than 24 hours after a Jewish parenting website published an article titled “I’m Taking My Family To A COVID-19 Hotspot. Here’s Why,” the editors suddenly removed the piece.
The story posted on Kveller was written by a mother in New York who was going full steam ahead with her Hilton Head Island, South Carolina vacation plans this summer, all for the sake of keeping traditions alive. She said she worked in the medical industry and knows that Hilton Head is a major COVID-19 hotspot, but figured that the reward of the vacation outweighed the risk.
“I don’t see a vaccine on the near horizon, so we’re all piling in the car and taking our chances while we can,” the author wrote.
She also made it clear that she couldn’t get the money back on the home she rented even if she wanted to cancel a trip (a problem that several Hilton Head tourists have emailed us about in this pandemic).
In the article, the writer talked about desperately wanting her family to relive those wistful vacation memories again this year, despite the pandemic’s threatening presence in South Carolina. She was planning on going mini-golfing and getting ice cream and basically carrying on with their plans, despite the increasing COVID-19 cases in the area.
The article did not go over well with a majority of Hilton Head Island locals. and it immediately received some brutal backlash, with many calling it “selfish” and “appalling.”
The writer’s apparent sister even took issue with the article, calling the story a “hot piece of stinking garbage.”
My sister wrote this hot piece of stinking garbage. My other sister (the dr) NEVER advised her to go before things get worse. She specifically advised her NOT to go. It is selfish and irresponsible and hopefully she stays far away from our septuagenarian parents.— Marissa Gluck (@marissagluck) July 17, 2020
Less than 24 hours after posting the story, Kveller removed the story from the website.
Kveller editors said they disagreed with the opinion of the story’s author, but published it because they felt it “illuminated a decision that many American families are making.”
“We’ve heard your feedback about the piece being irresponsible and possibly encouraging people to make similar choices,” the editors wrote. “Our community is of utmost value to us, which is why we decided to pull the piece. It’s not a decision we take lightly, but we feel like it’s the right choice in these circumstances.”
Last week, the Hilton Head-Bluffton Chamber Of Commerce sent out a press release that was picked up by several websites that said the island “stands ready to safely welcome tourists,” the Island Packet first reported.
However, the press release — issued by a chamber partially funded by taxpayers — was not retracted as COVID-19 cases continued to skyrocket on Hilton Head Island.
COVID-19 On Hilton Head
Hilton Head only had 35 coronavirus cases on Memorial Day, the official start of tourism season on the island. By July 15, it had 446 COVID-19 cases.
South Carolina health officials have not released information on how many tourists have tested positive for COVID-19.
Last week, South Carolina native Kathleen Parker wrote an explosive opinion piece in the Washington Post titled “Stay Away From South Carolina.“
“How did we get so sick so fast? In a word, tourism,” Parker wrote.
Hilton Head is in a unique and vulnerable position in the COVID-19 pandemic.
About one-third of its 39,000 residents are over 65.
Among those under 65, a majority of Hilton Head’s workforce is in the hospitality industry where workers are exposed to contacting hundreds of people every day and heavily depend on the tourism industry for their livelihood, especially during the summer months.
RELATED: Dear Hilton Head Tourists: You Can’t Take A Vacation From COVID | Opinion
The Hilton Head Island region is one of the most vulnerable areas in the United States for hospitals being overwhelmed by a COVID-19 outbreak, according to a news analysis by Five Thirty Eight.
The study found there are approximately 3,900 high-risk individuals for every ICU bed in the Hilton Head-Bluffton-Beaufort region.
On June 29, Hilton Head leaders passed a mask ordinance that requires members of the public and employees to wear face masks at any indoor commercial business within Hilton Head Island.
As we previously reported, South Carolina health officials are still failing to provide widespread and timely testing to properly mitigate and eventually suppress the rapidly spreading virus.
As a first step in combatting the virus after the recent spike in cases, Senator Tom Davis, working with community leaders and South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) has planned a series of free testing events on the island.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR..
Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an investigative journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Mandy also hosts the Murdaugh Murders podcast. Want to contact Mandy? Send your tips to [email protected].
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