Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

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Jan. 5

The Times and Democrat on remaining vigilant against the coronavirus as many await the vaccine rollout:

South Carolina surpassed 5,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths on Sunday, with the state nearing 300,000 confirmed cases.

With a post-holiday spike in cases expected, this is no time to be taking the threat from COVID-19 any less seriously. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is reporting that a high percentage of tests for the virus have returned positive results, indicating widespread community transmission.

DHEC is pleading with South Carolinians to remain vigilant against the virus.

During a Saturday news conference, the agency’s interim public health director, Dr. Brannon Traxler, emphasized the importance of wearing masks to slow down COVID-19, even as vaccines have begun to make their way into the state.

“I want everyone to remember that, while we are vaccinating, which everyone nationwide agrees is going to take some months to complete the entire population, I really encourage people to keep doing the things that we know work, that are very simple, like wearing masks,” Traxler said.

Traxler said an Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model has shown that statewide mask-wearing could reduce the number of deaths by 450 people between now and April 1.

The DHEC plea comes as The Associated Press is reporting questions by S.C. lawmakers about the pace of the state’s vaccine rollout.

As of Saturday, Traxler said 41,508 doses of the vaccine had been administered. Those doses are going to front-line health care workers and people living and working in long-term care facilities in the state’s initial phase.

There must be priorities for the most vulnerable but it’s not hard to see why so many are impatient for the vaccination process to move rapidly. No one wants to contract COVID-19 now with the life-saving vaccinations potentially so near.

The central goal of saving the most lives must remain, though Traxler is assuring South Carolinians “that everyone who wishes to be administered a vaccine will be vaccinated.”

Until your turn comes, follow the advice on wearing masks and practicing social distancing. You just might by saving your own life as well as protecting others.

Online: https://thetandd.com

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Jan. 3

The Post and Courier on a new design for the state flag:

South Carolina is a very independent-spirited and business-minded state, so it’s not necessarily surprising that the design of our state flag has been outsourced to the private sector for decades.

But South Carolina is also a state where one motivated, impassioned person can make a difference, so we’re pleased to learn that a team of respected historians appears close to settling on a design for an official state flag.

This design looks very much like the state flag we’ve known all our lives, but its exact color and the size of its crescent and palmetto tree do vary slightly from many other versions made, sold and flown.

Years ago, those variations got under the skin of Scott Malyerck, a Newberry political consultant who led the charge to create a standardized version of South Carolina’s flag. If the Legislature and Gov. Henry McMaster agree — which we hope they do this year — Mr. Malyerck will have a vexillological victory.

“It’s an important symbol for our state,” Mr. Malyerck recently told reporter Avery Wilkes, “and we ought to get it right.” We agree.

The most recent official version was approved in 1910: It was influenced strongly by Ellen Heyward Jervey of Charleston, who corresponded with a leading state historian regarding its design. Her work included a study of palmettos near her home at 71 Rutledge Ave. and possibly field research on the Isle of Palms.

Even earlier versions with the palmetto tree and crescent were approved as South Carolina seceded ahead of the Civil War, but a half century later, many had forgotten what the flag looked like, triggering work on a new official version. Around 1940, however, that version was repealed by state lawmakers — not because of any controversy over its design but as part of a bill rescinding a requirement that Clemson University manufacture the flags at cost (no, unfunded state mandates are nothing new).

For the past 80 years, the state has had no formal template: Its agencies have ordered flags from at least five different vendors.

Eric Emerson, director of the S.C. Archives and History Department, eminent South Carolina historian Walter Edgar and others researched the flag’s history to arrive at a recommendation for a new standard design. It features Pantone 282 C — the indigo color of the uniforms worn by Col. William Moultrie’s 2nd South Carolina Regiment in the Revolutionary War. Its crescent shape is based on badges worn by Col. Moultrie’s soldiers during the war. And the palmetto tree — a tribute to Moultrie’s June 1776 victory over nine British warships during the Battle of Sullivan’s Island — is based largely on Ms. Jervey’s 110-year-old pencil sketch.

Apparently, her tree sketch resulted in a more sparse looking palmetto than many favor, and as a result of that feedback, Mr. Malyreck and others plan to return to the drawing board for more tweaks. Public opinion seems to indicate that historical accuracy only goes so far; aesthetics matter, too.

Even without an official version, the simplistic yet historical design of South Carolina’s flag has made it one of the nation’s best state flags. And while the Legislature has held its share of passionate flag debates in recent decades, we hope 2021 will be a banner year for those seeking a peaceful, unifying resolution to the state’s best-known symbol.

Online: https://www.postandcourier.com/

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Jan. 2

The Index-Journal on attempts to make it a misdemeanor for local officials to vote for the removal of monuments:

Chuck Moates, sit up and take notice. For that matter, anyone elected to any municipal or county office had best take notice. But we singled out Moates because he has been among the more vocal elected officials yet in office when it comes to the state’s monumental history.

Moates, you see, is counted among those who think the time might be right to put history in perspective. Monuments to the Confederacy and its generals and soldiers do not change the course of our history, but when they stand on public property as symbols to honor and celebrate our unsavory history, a time when Black people were treated as property and not afforded the same rights and liberties as their white counterparts, they send the wrong message today.

If state Rep. Stewart Jones, a Republican whose district includes Greenwood and Laurens counties, has his way, fellow lawmakers will get behind his proposed legislation to make it a misdemeanor for a local official to vote for removal of a monument. As the commercials go, but wait! There’s more. Atop the misdemeanor charge Jones would impose a $25 million fine. You read that correctly, million. To begin with, that’s a fairly hefty fine for a misdemeanor, but while the charge itself is ridiculous, the fine is beyond ludicrous.

Jones is on quite the crusade to preserve monuments and names on public buildings with his list of pre-filed bills. Perhaps he has visions of himself forever memorialized in a statue, poised atop a great steed, sword drawn and pointing upward as he leads the charge to save his heritage and promote symbols of racism and hatred. Laurens County, if you want to do that, go for it. Just keep it on your side of the lake, OK?

So what else is Jones jonesing to do?

Well, any college or university that removes historical figures’ names from its buildings would be cut off from all general fund appropriations.

As we reported, another bill he’s proposing would require the state treasurer to withhold any disbursement from the local government fund to any county or municipality that removes a monument or memorial of a historical figure.

So, in a Stewart Jones South Carolina, let’s say Chuck Moates proposes that his fellow members of Greenwood County Council vote on a proposal to remove the Confederate statue outside the county courthouse. Well, he will have wiped out $25 million from his retirement account, which probably won’t set too well with the Mrs.

And, for argument’s sake, let’s say his fellow members of council agree. That’s another cool $150 million these members of council have to pour into the state’s coffers, which wouldn’t be a bad deal for the state. To add insult to injury, if they voted yes to remove the monument, they will really tick off county taxpayers and voters because now the county would be cut off from any state local government fund dollars. That in itself is ironic, considering the state government hasn’t been all that forthright in its funding of local government for years.

Here’s a thought. Since Jones is jonesing so much for preservation of heritage, put him on the committee to work on the redesign of the state flag for a couple of years and let the other lawmakers try to focus on more sensible and meaningful legislation.

Because after 2020, we find ourselves jonesing for just that.

Online: http://www.indexjournal.com