Roper: Virus is not political

By Jason Evans

Staff Reporter

PICKENS — The COVID-19 virus doesn’t care about political leanings or scoring political points,



Pickens County administrator Ken Roper said.

“Let’s just stick to the data,” he said.

Roper discussed case numbers and fatigue during a Facebook Live video update Friday morning.

“We’ve all been kind of admitting about how we’re fatigued with this whole process,” he said. “I want, because I think that’s part of my job, to give you information

As of Friday morning, Pickens County had 319 active COVID-19 cases, Roper said.

“337 is lower than we were perhaps back in July, but it’s higher than we’ve been any other time,” he said.

That number may be “a natural outgrowth” of the Labor Day holiday weekend and a return to gathering together in schools and other places, Roper said.

“I’m not surprised I guess is what I would say about the numbers,” he said.

The concerning thing is “the data we’re getting from DHEC shows new cases, and it’s not in a discernible pattern,” Roper said. “One day we’ll find we have 11 new cases. The next day we’ll have 10. The next day we’ll have 12. The next day we’ll have 40, then we’ll go back to 10.”

What that suggests to him is that “the numbers we’re getting are relative to when the testing is being done,” he said.

“It’s not really telling us about the spread in our community,” Roper said.

Testing centers releasing data irregularly could account for those jumps, he said.

“If we don’t have a lot of testing for a couple of days, then we’ll have the lab report a bunch of results, we would see that kind of spike,” Roper said.

That’s both reassuring and frustrating, he said.

“It tells us to follow the numbers, but again to keep our vigilance on the best practices,” Roper said. “Don’t leave home unless you have to. Keep your space even in the work environment. Wash your hands and try to practice good hygiene.”

Frustrating, because Roper would like residents to know “what the trend lines are” regarding coronavirus cases in Pickens County.

“Right now I don’t really trust the trend lines, because the testing results are reporting … so non-uniformly,” he said.

A COVID-19 testing will be done at Rock Springs Baptist Church in Easley from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. next Friday, Sept. 25, according to Roper.

Abel Baptist Church in Clemson will host a testing from 2-7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30.

There is no cost to the patient for testing at those two sites, Roper said.

“No pre-registration, no appointment needed,” he said.

Those being tested should bring a driver’s license or a picture ID. Patients must be at least two years of age. A legal guardian must accompany anyone under the age of 18. Please wear a mask.

“Patients will be contacted within several days … with the results of the test,” Roper said. “I want to encourage you to do the testing.”

On Thursday, the total number of tests results statewide was 4,417, he said.

“The percent positive there was 6 percent,” Roper said. “Of all the tests they did, 6 percent of them were positive, which is a better number than we’ve seen in some time. Sometimes we’ve gotten up to 11 or 12 (percent), which told us it was more widespread. Maybe that’s good news. We’ll keep following it.”

As of Friday, Pickens County had had 37 deaths attributable to COVID-19, he said.

“This is something that, regardless of your politics, is having a real impact in our community,” Roper said.

Roper said it’s not appropriate for him “to get involved in the politics.”

“But I do want to go to any length that I can to keep this data in front of you,” he said. “I don’t care about your political persuasion — because the virus doesn’t care about your political persuasion. I’m not going to try to make political points — because the virus is not trying to make political points. Let’s do what we reasonably can. One day this will be over.”

Pickens County’s hospital bed occupancy rate was 54 percent as of Friday, according to DHEC.

“We’re at about half capacity,” Roper said. “That’s good for us right now.”

Roper ended his video by discussing the pandemic of 1918, also known as “the Spanish flu.”

“This is not unique,” he said. “This is a thing that happens. It doesn’t happen often.”

When that pandemic hit, it was also a time of great strife and tension in the country, he said.

“People struggled with the response,” Roper said.

The current pandemic “feels like all the road signs are gone,” he said.

“We feel unmoored and lost,” Roper said. “I know that’s frustrating. I want to point to that historical example — and there are others — where the country pulled together. Our community can pull together, because this will end one day. We need to lift each other up.”