SC official regrets not voicing concerns with virus response


South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, left, looks on as state epidemiologist Linda Bell, right, speaks during a COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, July 29, 2020, in West Columbia, S.C. As of Monday, McMaster says all businesses will be allowed to be open, as long as they adhere to social distancing and capacity limits. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The doctor serving as South Carolina’s state epidemiologist says she regrets not speaking out publicly about her concerns as the state reopened close-contact businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

The State newspaper reported Saturday that Dr. Linda Bell said in a June email she would not stand with Republican Gov. Henry McMaster any longer “without speaking to what the science tells us is the right thing to do.”

Bell wrote that she felt McMaster’s staff had misled the public to believe she agreed with the governor’s decision to reopen restaurants, barbershops and other businesses in May.

McMaster spokesman Brian Symmes said the governor appreciates Bell’s advice but his overall “scope of responsibilities and considerations is vastly different” than public health alone.


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