Barry Walker Sr.
First-term Irmo Mayor Barry Walker announced Sept. 26 that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. The mayor’s wife, Susan, also got COVD-19, Walker said on social media. “As you know I’m a kidney patient and require weekly dialysis,” Walker wrote. “This virus compromises my immune system. I have been ever vigilant about wearing my mask in public and I’ve encouraged others to do so as well. Please understand this virus is NO JOKE. While Susan and I are doing OK and we expect to make a full recovery, our symptoms have been difficult. We have experienced a severe lack of energy and neither of us can taste or smell.” Walker was a town councilman in Irmo for four terms before being elected mayor in 2019. “I encourage everyone to continue practicing common sense measures like social distancing, hand washing and using sanitizer,” Walker wrote in his COVID announcement. “And please, wear your masks in public to protect yourself and others.”
SC leaders stunned by report Parris Island could close
South Carolina’s top officials were caught off guard by a report that Parris Island, the longstanding Marine recruiting depot in the Palmetto State, could close. The news was first reported by military.com. In a follow-up story, The Post and Courier‘s Thomas Novelly reports that Marine leaders are considering an idea where the two main Marine training locations — Parris Island and San Diego — could close, giving way to a new facility where men and women could train together. Women Marines have trained at Parris Island for decades, but platoons have not been fully co-ed. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., spoke out against the move. “If you’re looking to save money — let’s start with cutting those people who think closing Parris Island is a good idea,” Graham tweeted. “Anyone in the Navy or Marine Corps thinking about closing Parris Island has limited growth potential.” The office of Republican Gov. Henry McMaster also says he wants Parris Island to remain open. “Parris Island’s historic and economic significance is woven into the very fabric of our state and the Lowcountry,” McMaster spokesman Brian Symmes says. “Simply put, there is nothing Gov. McMaster won’t do to protect Parris Island and its status as one of the best military training installations in the world.” The recruit depot is responsible for more than $700 million in annual economic impact, and supports more than 6,100 jobs.
Another two COMET bus drivers test positive for coronavirus
Columbia’s bus system announced another two drivers have tested positive for COVID-19. The COMET, the regional bus system that serves Richland and parts of Lexington and Newberry counties, announced the two latest cases on Sept. 25. That brings the total to four drivers who have come up positive with the virus in less than a month. According to a news release from COMET, the two latest drivers who got the virus will be quarantined until they have a negative test. The drivers last drove fixed routes 61, 11 and 801 on the evening split, and fixed routes 83L/84 and 401/45. “As the pandemic evolves, we will continue to be transparent to protect the community and to do our part to reduce cases,” COMET CEO John Andoh says. “Our protocols are also evolving as we continue to explore newer and better ways to ensure that we protect our staff and our passengers so they can continue to travel safely.” The COMET has undertaken a host of safety protocols, including masks required for passengers and drivers, half-capacity buses, frequent sanitizing and deep cleaning of vehicles, and more. The bus system is in the process of getting safety screens on all of its buses that separate drivers from riders.