Legislators pushed DHEC for preferential COVID-19 treatment, review finds – Charleston Post Courier

by | Aug 21, 2022 | COVID-19

COLUMBIA — As public health workers at South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control scrambled to respond to COVID-19, state legislators pestered them with numerous requests for coronavirus testing and vaccination clinics — including for members of their own families, according to a new review of the agency’s response to the pandemic.DHEC executives “were consequently pressured to reprioritize scarce commodities and services,” often to efforts that were considered “quite inefficient,” the analysis found.Rather than put a stop to it, DHEC leaders sometimes facilitated those requests by passing along contact information for their employees to legislators.That was one of 57 findings included in a lengthy after-action report issued to DHEC’s brass in April by a high-powered consultant. The Post and Courier obtained the document through an open-records request.The report’s 168 pages showcase an agency unprepared for the unique challenges of a novel pandemic, unable to communicate effectively with its partner agencies and the public, and understaffed for a sustained emergency response that ultimately lasted more than 780 days.The highly technical report, authored by Washington, D.C.-based risk management firm Witt O’Brien’s, found DHEC struggled in the pandemic’s early stages to collaborate with state emergency officials and …

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