Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:
The Post and Courier
State bill would reduce the fine for littering
Sometimes you need to go backward to move forward on a problem.
That's what a couple of Republican lawmakers …
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That's what a couple of Republican lawmakers are counting on with a bill that would reduce the fine for littering with "light trash" such as cigarette butts. It also would add to the list of items it's illegal to dump.
South Carolina is a beautiful state, but some take that beauty for granted. Whether it's tossing a cigarette from a car or throwing a can into the water, these mindless acts add up: Volunteers picked up more than 35,000 cigarette butts during the 2016 Beach Sweep/River Sweep. Those butts can end up in waterways and the ocean, where they're an environmental hazard.
As people continue to move here, it's going to be even harder to maintain that beauty without meaningful, enforceable laws to protect it.
The proposal from Reps. Bill Hixon of North Augusta and Jeff Johnson of Conway calls for a fine of between $25 and $100 per violation. That slashes the mandatory penalty from $200, but it makes sense to differentiate between a bottle and a refrigerator when it comes to littering.
Lowering the fine also should help encourage police officers who might be reluctant to slam someone with a ticket that eventually could exceed $400 for dropping a can alongside the road.
The bill still calls for stiff penalties for what it calls "illegal dumping." Garbage up to 500 pounds could cost litterers between $200 and $500; anything over that could fetch a penalty of up to $1,000.
The bill also adds to the list of what's illegal to dump, such as dead animals (which, when you think about it, is wrong on so many levels).
"The only way we're going to get trash picked up in this state is to pass this bill and enforce it," Mr. Hixon said on Jan. 24. "One of my pet peeves this year is getting the trash picked up."
The Times and Democrat
Flu season is not done yet in our state
South Carolina has suffered 20 additional deaths attributed to the flu.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control says 17 of the latest deaths occurred between Jan. 14-29. Five earlier deaths have just recently been attributed to the flu.
Since October, health officials say 46 people have died from the flu in South Carolina. Hundreds have been hospitalized.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. It can cause mild to severe illness and can be deadly - especially to vulnerable people, including the very young, the elderly and those with certain chronic health conditions. Symptoms can include a sudden onset of fever, dry cough, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, sore throat and nasal congestion or stuffiness.
With school in session, children are in close quarters with other kids, raising the risk of contracting the flu. More than one school has been affected. Nearby, Clarendon Hall closed Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week. The school in Summerton released a statement that it closed because of "a number of students and staff members who have tested positive for the influenza virus."
The flu season is at its peak but is not done. And the best insurance against contracting the virus remains vaccination - even at this point in the year. From the date of vaccination, it takes approximately two weeks for the antibodies that provide protection to develop in the body.
Arnold Monto is a physician and epidemiologist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. He studies the flu and sits on advisory panels about immunization.
In writing for theconversation.com, he explains there are two subtypes of A influenza viruses affecting people this year. "One of the subtypes, called A (H3N2), is known to be a bad actor. When that virus started circulating in the U.S., we public health experts began to worry that this was going to be a big year with a large number of illnesses and hospitalizations."
Doctors and public health officials still recommend getting vaccinated because in much of the country, the outbreaks are still going strong and flu transmission may last into April and May, Monto says. "Also, there is another type of influenza, B, and that often takes over late in the season. It is in the vaccine as well."
In addition to getting vaccinated, South Carolina residents are encouraged to practice good health habits. DHEC offers the following tips:
- Stay away from people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick.
- Stay home from work, school and errands if you are sick. You will help keep others from getting sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue, if one is handy. Throw it away immediately after use. Otherwise, use your upper sleeve.
- Wash your hands often and thoroughly.
- Don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
A total of 94 deaths in South Carolina were attributed to the flu during the 2017 season. Officials are doing their best to be sure the toll is lower this year. Do your part in practicing good health habits - and getting a flu shot if you have not already done so.