LANCASTER, S.C. — The former director of DHEC spoke in Lancaster earlier this week on how a history of pandemics play a role in the fight against the current Coronavirus pandemic.
The Arras Foundation, formerly known as the J. Marion Sims Foundation, is hosting Earl Hunter, the former SC DHEC commissioner of 31 years.
An expert in public health, Hunter says while doctors do their part, residents should do the same with each of us taking responsibility.
On Monday, Hunter discussed past infections and viruses, like small pox, the Bubonic Plague and SARS. In those times, he says no one knew what caused them. Now, we know what causes today’s Coronavirus and what needs to be done to stop it.
Today, SC DHEC is ramping up contact tracers. Researchers are developing a vaccine and working to determine how long it will protect people, so they can return to work and hangout in large groups.
The goal he said is herd immunity, where at least 60 to 70 percent of people have developed antibodies through exposure or vaccinations, making them immune to COVID-19.
The former DHEC director adds there’s still a lot to be learned when it comes to treatment of Coronavirus.
For now, Hunter says as cases continue to rise in South Carolina and hospitals are reaching capacity, adhering to CDC guidelines is key.
But there’s one more step. People, businesses and city and state leaders must also work together to spread the word.
“It’s no one individual that can do it. There’s no one group that can do it. It’s got to be all of us,” Hunter said. “I tell people, I always think of, we’re in a tug of war with this disease, we are all pulling on the rope. If we all pull in the right direction, the same direction, we can defeat it much quicker. If we got people pulling the rope this way and that way and this way, we’re fighting each other.”
“It’s really normalizing that behavior, so it’s getting people that you know and trust that are in your circle to set the example and follow them,” Susan DeVenny, Arras Foundation CEO, said.
The Arras Foundation hosts a weekly call for community members to join together to hear about timely updates and events.
During his time at DHEC, Earl Hunter, who is originally from Heath Springs, was the third longest serving public health director among 50 states.