Government officials in scandal-ravaged Horry county South Carolina are taking heat for receiving coronavirus vaccinations ahead of elderly residents who are more prone to potentially serious effects from the virus and its attendant comorbidities.
Not only that, these government officials have been allowed to dole out doses of the vaccine to their “designees” as well … whether these people fall within South Carolina’s current current “phase” of vaccine distribution or not.
According to an excellent investigative report by Kevin Accettulla of WBTW TV-13 (CBS – Florence-Myrtle Beach, S.C.), a total of 2,319 people “affiliated with” Horry county government have been vaccinated according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC).
For those of you keeping score at home, there are 2,250 people currently employed by the county.
In other words, more people “affiliated” with the county have been vaccinated than there are people who work for the county.
Which is a problem … especially in a state which has consistently ranked at or near the bottom of the national rankings in terms of the number of vaccines it has received from the federal government.
According to Accettulla, Horry county’s fire and rescue department was approved early on in the process as a Covid-19 vaccine provider. While the agency was authorized by SCDHEC to provide doses to county employees, its emergency services director decided to adopt a policy by which an additional person or a “plus one” who was “designated by a county employee” – could also receive a vaccination.
“Those doses were not designed for the public or whatever,” Horry county councilman Johnny Vaught told Accettulla bluntly, arguing the vaccines were provided to the county “to keep government services working.”
South Carolina is currently in Phase 1a of its vaccine rollout (.pdf) – which includes health care workers, residents (and staff) at long-term care facilities, admitted hospital patients over the age of 65, residents over the age of 65 (with or without underlying health conditions) and “mission-critical state/ local government employees.”
So … what criteria, precisely, did Horry county apply in determining which of its employees were “mission critical?”
And what about those employees’ “designees?” On what basis were they selected?
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County officials claim they placed “an emphasis on those who met phase 1a criteria” in doling out the vaccine doses. But did they?
It’s not clear … and the county is stonewalling requests for more information.
When Accettulla’s station made inquiries in the hopes of determining the composition of this “designee” group, Horry county’s spokeswoman rebuffed its requests – saying the county was “not providing additional interpretation.”
The spokeswoman also declined to “answer specific questions” about the policy raised by reporters at The (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) Sun News.
“We understand that many of our community members are anxious to receive their vaccination, and we will continue to work with SCDHEC to assist with that mission,” the spokeswoman told the paper. “We remain committed to keeping our community safe.”
Translation? “Let them eat cake …“
To be clear: This news outlet’s founding editor Will Folks has long editorialized that Covid-19 is nowhere near as dangerous as the pro-shutdown fear-mongers convinced us it was – however, that doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous (especially to older citizens). Clearly, it is – and reasonable precautions should continue to be taken in response to it.
Just as clearly, those who are most vulnerable must receive priority in the vaccination rollout. And with all due respect, a bunch of county-level bureaucrats and their “designees” are not priority recipients.
County officials – starting with ethically challenged council chairman Johnny Gardner – must be held accountable for every single misappropriated vaccine dose once a full accounting has been made publicly available.
This isn’t just the garden variety ripping off of taxpayers these officials typically engage in, either. This is favoritism that could have potentially life and death consequences …
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