Leaders in Horry county, South Carolina responded angrily this week after being implicated in a scandal involving the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines received by the scandal-scarred government from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC).
As this news outlet reported over the weekend, county bureaucrats have been receiving the vaccine ahead of elderly residents who are more prone to potentially adverse health consequences associated with the virus and its attendant comorbidities.
As if that weren’t bad enough, Horry 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.
The Palmetto State 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.”
Rather than determining which of its employees were “mission critical” – or which ones met another one of the “phase 1a” criteria – Horry instead offered Covid-19 vaccines to all of its full-time, part-time and temporary employees (and all of its volunteers and interns).
And their designees …
“Every employee who wishes to get this vaccine will be able to, including second doses,” an email from the county obtained by WPDE TV 15 (ABC – Florence/ Myrtle Beach, S.C.) noted.
This news outlet’s founding editor Will Folks rebuked Horry county for its shameless, self-serving method of vaccine administration – accusing its leaders of displaying “favoritism that could have potentially life and death consequences.”
“With all due respect, a bunch of county-level bureaucrats and their ‘designees’ are not priority recipients,” Folks wrote.
He also called on Horry county leaders – including ethically challenged council chairman Johnny Gardner – to “be held accountable for every single misappropriated vaccine dose once a full accounting has been made publicly available.”
We are still waiting on the county to stop stonewalling and provide that information, incidentally.
In light of Horry county’s vaccine shenanigans, SCDHEC officials announced this week that they would be cutting off the supply of “first dose” vaccines to county government – and ordered county officials to follow the rules in dispensing their remaining supply.
“Only phase 1a eligible individuals may be vaccinated with your current supply,” a letter from SCDHEC to the county noted.
County leaders were livid …
In a rambling and accusatory Facebook post, Horry leaders blasted the agency – and the media – for “misinformation being conveyed to the public.”
“The media coverage has insinuated that the county somehow acted inappropriately by providing vaccinations outside of SCDHEC’s priority guidelines,” the post stated. “The simple fact is that Horry county has at all times complied with SCDHEC’s guidance, and if SCDHEC was better able to satisfy its current supply challenges, we would not be having this discussion.”
That latter remark is a reference to the chronic supply issues South Carolina has dealt with ever since the beginning of the vaccine rollout – although those are hardly SCDHEC’s fault. The federal government has simply failed to provide the Palmetto State with the same level of doses as other states.
Horry officials went on to accuse SCDHEC of “mismanagement and miscommunication” – and of allegedly changing its guidance to the county.
“Horry county will adapt to the latest guidance and will continue to forge ahead, together with SCDHEC, to get our community vaccinated, but we will not apologize for doing the right thing for our employees, with the approval of SCDHEC, at a time of crisis for our entire community,” its statement concluded.
The right thing?
Letting non-essential bureaucrats and their “designees” leapfrog potentially vulnerable older adults is not “the right thing.” It is among the most brazen, most contemptible forms of cronyism we have ever witnessed … yet such behavior is sadly par for the course in one of the state’s most notorious cesspools of corruption.
While our founding editor has repeatedly editorialized that Covid-19 is nowhere near as dangerous as the pro-shutdown fear-mongers convinced us it was – that doesn’t mean it isn’t a serious threat (especially to older citizens). Clearly, it is – and reasonable precautions must be taken to mitigate it (including prioritizing vaccines toward those who need them most).
Shame on Horry county leaders for putting their own interests ahead of the interests of those they are supposed to serve …
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