Opinion: Key County Institutions Easing COVID-19 Restrictions Properly and Responsibly as Cases Decline

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This newspaper has reported recently on two key Lexington County institutions that are easing restrictions implemented due to COVID-19. Their actions are welcome and being conducted in a careful, responsible manner and are excellent blueprints for other county institutions of how to slowly move in the direction of returning to life before COVID-19 while remaining vigilant about safety. New cases are in significant decline, but still present in the population, making their two-pronged approach — easing off restrictions while still being cautious — fully appropriate.
Lexington County School District 1, the largest in Lexington County and one of the largest in the state, is implementing a program designed by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control that is intended to increase students’ ability to remain in classrooms and safely engage in face-to-face learning.
The district’s new policy, named Test to Stay, will not automatically order quarantines for students who may have been exposed to an infected person. Instead, rapid tests that deliver results in minutes will be used several days after a potential exposure. If the student presents no symptoms and has a negative rapid test result, they keep receiving in-person instruction. This approach acknowledges the decline in cases being reported while also acknowledging that the virus is still circulating.
Lexington Medical Center is also setting a responsible and welcome example for other institutions. Visiting hours have been expanded to include two visitors allowed for inpatients during a 12-hour visiting period each day. And emergency patients can now have one visitor accompany them in the waiting area, treatment area and settling into their room if admitted to the hospital. Visitors must wear masks and must leave the emergency waiting area if necessary due to crowding out patients if that occurs.
This policy change is another example of easing restrictions due to declining cases while still acknowledging that the virus is still among us and taking safety precautions.
We welcome these new policies as signs that new cases are declining, and we applaud District 1 and Lexington Medical Center, two of our county’s leading institutions, for their welcomed easing of restrictions as COVID-19 declines.
Their careful approach keeps our safety in mind as they ease us closer to normalcy. Lexington County’s other institutions should follow their example and carefully ease restrictions.
This article is the opinion of the Chronicle editorial board. To comment, email lexingtonchronicle@gmail.com.

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