ER doctor and Franklin Co. Sheriff discuss reopening economy amid pandemic


EASTPOINT, Fla. (WMBB) — In Franklin County on Saturday morning, an emergency room doctor came to town to speak with Sheriff AJ Smith about reopening the state amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I take the virus very seriously,” said Dr. Allan Painter, who works at Oconee Memorial Hospital in Seneca, South Carolina. “From a scientific standpoint, I think we can start opening back up.”

Dr. Painter met with Sheriff Smith on Saturday to talk about the next steps for areas like Franklin County, as the state continues to reopen.

“I think it’s good for people to know what a physician thinks about what we’re doing here in Franklin County and what we need to be doing as we move forward to open our businesses up,” said Sheriff Smith. 

Dr. Painter said that when it comes to reopening, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.

“Each area is different,” he said. “High-population densities versus low-population densities have more concern.”

He said it is appropriate to start the phased approach of reopening the economy in areas like Franklin County.

“They have what’s needed to naturally fight a virus,” said Dr. Painter. “That’s sunshine, salt-water, chlorinated pools and distance.”

However, he said people in the at-risk group like the elderly population and people with pre-existing conditions should continue to take precautions as he believes this virus is predisposed to attack the respiratory system more than the flu does.

Sheriff Smith said it was a productive conversation and he’s excited to welcome tourists back to the area, but hopes everyone heeds the advice. 

“When you come here, do the smart thing like the doctor said,” said Smith. “Social-distance. Make sure that you wash your hands. Rental places as they open up, make sure that you have really good protocol for how these things are going to be cleaned and that’s the same in restaurants, same in hotels.”

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