How senators would resolve vaccine delays
By Jerry Bellune
Nikki Setzler sees a way to speed up covid vaccinations.
The West Columbia senator has urged Gov. Henry McMaster to turn over vaccine rollout to Maj. Gen. Robert Livingston Jr., a former SC Adjutant General.
With Sen. Stephen Goldfinch, Setzler wrote the governor that the Department of Health and Environmental Control was not up to the task.
They asked McMaster for an executive order appointing Livingston lead vaccine logistics.
Livingston of West Columbia is a business owner with engineering experience as well as his military background.
“It is crucial to enlist the assistance of a person with the experience and logistical knowledge to develop and implement immediately a statewide logistics plan for receipt, distribution, and injection of vaccines,” the letter reads.
“This person should be highly qualified to coordinate efforts between providers, the National Guard, local government, DHEC, hospitals and the federal government,” The State newspaper reported.
Goldfinch, a Georgetown Republican, spoke on the Senate floor about the need for a “quarterback” to lead the state’s vaccine distribution.
“It’s time we figure out a quarterback to get more vaccines in arms.”
Hospital executives and Lexington County senators Shane Massey and Dick Harpootlian have been highly critical of DHEC delays. Harpootlian said this is the right move as DHEC has been a "dumpster fire."
Livingston, who retired after 40 years of military service, served as the state’s adjutant general, overseeing the Army and Air National Guard, Emergency Management Division, State Guard and Youth ChalleNGe Academy.
Livingston said Setzler asked him about getting involved and he welcomed serving the state again.
“If you need me I’m there,” he said.
DHEC has no designated logistics director who oversees vaccine delivery and injections.
DHEC officials say they meet with the state Emergency Management Division and SC National Guard to deal with logistical challenges, interim DHEC Director Brannon Traxler said.
DHEC spokeswoman Laura Renwick said a vaccine task force meets weekly on logistics but no specific problems about the vaccine had come up.
“DHEC is unaware of any significant delays or issues related to the transport and delivery,” Renwick said.
That is not accurate.
The Chronicle has asked her about what DHEC can do to speed vaccine injections, simplify the online appointment process and allow older Lexngton County residents to go together to get their shots.
According to DHEC, they have received almost 425,000 1st and 2nd vaccine doses from the federal government. They have given them to less than half that many – 211,000 doses to 175,000 people.