Businesses, government, schools still fighting pandemic

Rapid testing will be available by appointment Friday at the Health Department in Whiteville.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many setbacks the last 18 months, and though the economy is somewhat stabilizing, many are still feeling the effects around the county while others are making adjustments to keep things moving. 

Businesses are struggling to keep employees in stores and restaurants as the Delta variant surges. Places like Burger King and Dollar General are posting signs announcing early closing hours due to lack of staff. Many managers of these stores and food chains haven’t had a day off in weeks, and as the holidays loom near, tasks are piling up on already overwhelmed employees. 

The Columbus County Sheriff’s Office planned ahead of the outbreak, and is taking the precautions necessary to protect staff and keep the department running smoothly. 

“We have had 10 cases with our staff so far.  At this time, all but two have returned back to work well and good,” said Sheriff Jody Greene. “Weekly, we have employees with exposures while either on duty or off duty that we have to address at times.  However, we are very blessed to have dedicated staff to take the proper precautions.  

“We have plans in place in case of an outbreak.  We feel like we are prepared and ready.” 

Cases in county schools are on the rise, and bus drivers are worried about being out of a job once again if schools shutdown. 

“I keep seeing all these schools shut down for one to two weeks at the time and that worries me about our district. I need to keep working,” said bus driver Bridget Barnes.  

Williams Township School moved to virtual learning beginning this week, while South Columbus High School is returning from a hiatus from classroom instruction from last week. 

“Closing school facilities for ten days in an attempt to reduce the chances of COVID spread is a serious step that is only taken after much consideration of the health and well-being of our students and the community,” says the Columbus County Board of Education in a Facebook post. Students, staff and guests are mandated at this time to wear masks while on any school facility or campus.  Similar rules are in place with the city schools.

The district is also participating with the county health department to sponsor vaccine clinics at local high schools throughout the county to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and the Delta variant.  

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About Jefferson Weaver 786 Articles
Jefferson Weaver is the managing editor of columbuscountynews.com and news director for WTXY radio. He can be reached at 910.632.4965, or by email at jeffersonweaver@columbuscountynews.com.