Come Pick Your Pumpkin Pet Adoption
 
WHAT: City of Columbia Animal Services Pick Your Pumpkin Pet Adoption. All adoptions are $13
 
WHO: The City of Columbia Animal Services
 
WHEN: October 26th – 30th                   
 
WHERE: 127 Humane Lane, Columbia, SC 29209
 
Note: Due to COVID-19, Columbia Animal Services is operating at a maximum capacity of three people at once; if you are planning on attending this event, be prepared to wait in a line. Face masks or face coverings are required for entry. To view pets available for adoption, visit https://https://www.columbiasc.net/animal-services/adoption
 
Columbia Animal Services is located at 127 Humane Lane. For any additional information, call (803) 776-7387 or visit https://www.columbiasc.net/animal-services
See the attached flyer for more details.
City of Columbia to Cancel Annual “Spooktacular Halloween Party”
 
The City of Columbia Parks and Recreation Department has announced they will cancel this year’s “Spooktactular Halloween Party” to protect citizens and minimize opportunities to spread COVID-19 in our community.
 
In addition, no Halloween events will be held at any City parks due to facilities still being closed.
 
 
For more information, please visit https://www.columbiasc.gov/parks-recreation/news for further details and updates.

City’s Pet of the Week: Edzia! (ID# A265269)
 
Edzia is our adoptable pet of the week! This friendly 6 year old is supremely easy going in all respects. She enjoys attention but is ok doing her own thing. She will compete for attention with other cats but only to a certain degree. She gets along well with other cats but is fine with a live-and-let-live attitude if the other cat doesn’t want to be best friends. She is perhaps one of the most well rounded cats we have encountered in quite some time! She seems to have outgrown her playfulness but is content with cuddles and snoozes.
 
This loving “furbaby” has already been spayed, micro-chipped, and is currently ready to meet her “furever” family.
 
Visit other pets available for adoption at the Columbia Animal Shelter, 127 Humane Lane. Visit https://www.columbiasc.net/animal-services or call 803-776-PETS for more information.
 
All of our pets need loving homes! To view other animals available for adoption, visit Petfinder.com Please refer to the ID number listed above when visiting the website.
CRFD Reminds Residents to ‘Mask Up’
While Celebrating Halloween

The threat of COVID-19 this Halloween will mean more safeguards for area residents to keep in mind while celebrating tricks and treats. In addition to practicing fire safety the Columbia-Richland Fire Department also wants area residents to take steps during their Halloween celebrations to stay protected from the virus.
“Make no mistake about it many months have passed but the dangers of COVID-19 are still out there,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “For that reason we are STRONGLY encouraging all citizens to obey the protective mask ordinances that remain in place for the City of Columbia as well as Richland County. We also want to encourage our citizens to celebrate Halloween in ways that will not foster the spread of this deadly virus.
Due to COVID-19 the City of Columbia is encouraging citizens to avoid large gatherings and also take added safety precautions:
·        Avoid large gatherings, festivals and door-to-door trick or treating as it can become difficult to maintain proper social distancing and ensure proper mask usage from all participants
·        If you do decide to celebrate make sure to follow proper COVID-19 precautions!
o  According to South Carolina DHEC drive-through events, one directional haunted tails, outdoor pumpkin patches and creative methods for handing out candy can be safe alternatives for celebrating!
o  If you do trick-or-treat, wear a protective mask and stat at least 6 feet away from others
o  ONLY use pre-packaged candy!
o  Don’t use a costume masks as a substitute for a cloth mask unless it’s made of at least two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around your face.
o  DO NOT wear a protective mask and a costume mask as this can make it difficult to breathe
·        For further information on Halloween during the COVID-19 Pandemic visit www.cdc.gov!
Also here are some fire safety precautions to keep in mind:
·        When choosing a costume, stay away from long trailing fabric. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so he or she can see out.
·        Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costume.
·        Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper catch fire easily. Keep all decorations away from open flames and other heat sources like light bulbs and heaters. 
·        Use a battery-operated candle or glow-stick in jack-o-lanterns. If you use a real candle, use extreme caution. Make sure children are watched at all times when candles are lit. When lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns, use long, fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far enough out of the way of trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, walkways and yards.
·        Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.
·        Make sure all smoke alarms in the home are working.
·        Tell children to stay away from open flames including jack-o-lanterns with candles in them. Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire. (Have them practice, stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out.)
Extinguish candles by taking away oxygen from the wick. You can use a candle snuffer to extinguish your candles or other non-combustible materials. Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
·        Keep candles at least 1 foot (30 centimeters) away from anything that can burn.
·        Use candle holders that are sturdy, and won’t tip over easily.
·        Put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.
·        Light candles carefully. Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame.
·        Don’t burn a candle all the way down — put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container.
·        Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.
·        Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage. Never use candles.
Finally, NEVER ever leave a child alone in a room with a burning candle!  Keep matches and lighters up high and out of children’s reach, in a locked cabinet.
The Columbia-Richland Fire Department hopes that everyone has a scary yet safe 2020 Halloween!
Staff at the department are available for interviews on this topic. To schedule one call PIO Mike DeSumma at 803-413-8555 or send an email to michael.desumma@columbiasc.gov
DHEC Reminds South Carolinians to Celebrate Safely this Halloween
Although Halloween may look different this year, there are still ways for South Carolinians to celebrate while avoiding the scare of being exposed to or spreading COVID-19. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) recommends outdoor, no-contact events that are low-risk for disease transmission.
Drive-through events, one-directional haunted trails, outdoor pumpkin patches and creative methods for handing out candy can be safe alternatives for celebrating.
“This isn’t the year for traditional trick-or-treating, haunted houses and costume parties,” said Dr. Michael Kacka, DHEC Physician and Chief Medical Officer. “COVID-19 continues to have a high prevalence across our state, and many traditional Halloween activities unfortunately are high-risk activities since they include close person-to-person contact and interaction with people outside of your household.”
To avoid a post-holiday spike in COVID-19 cases, which can result in an increase in hospitalizations and even deaths, DHEC asks residents to take Halloween celebrations seriously this year and remember that disease prevention methods don’t just protect you, they protect others in your community who may experience severe complications if they contract the virus.
View DHEC’s COVID-19 Halloween safety tips at scdhec.gov/holidaytips.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides Halloween guidance as well as activity risk levels here.
DHEC recommends that anyone who’s regularly out in the community to get tested for COVID-19 at least once a month, and anyone who chooses to take part in a social activity like Halloween celebrations should get tested afterward and also monitor for symptoms.
“Testing for COVID-19 has never been easier or more accessible in South Carolina,” said Dr. Kacka. “There are 450 testing opportunities across the state, including more than 300 permanent sites and more than 130 mobile testing events, and results are provided in a matter of days. We encourage anyone who wants to get tested, to get tested, so they know their health status in regard to COVID-19, since asymptomatic people can and do spread the disease.”
For the latest COVID-19 information in South Carolina, visit scdhec.gov/COVID19. To find a testing location near you, visit scdhec.gov/COVID19testing.
“This may be the most important flu shot of your life”; DHEC Officials Stress Importance of Flu Vaccines Amid COVID-19
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) joins state and national partners in emphasizing how critical it is for individuals to stay as healthy as possible during this global pandemic. One such action is getting your flu shot. 
"This year, this may be the most important flu shot of your life,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, interim DHEC Public Health Director. “We’re experiencing the worst public health crisis in 100 years, and it’s never been more important for each and every one of us to stay as healthy as possible. We owe it to ourselves, our loved ones, and the essential workers and first responders who are tirelessly dedicated in their service to the public as we all endure this pandemic together.”
Contracting the flu and COVID-19 at the same time is possible and could likely cause more complications than if the flu were the sole infection. The quadrivalent flu vaccine that’s currently available this year protects against the four most common different flu viruses that are expected to circulate this flu season. Flu vaccines are safe, effective, and do not cause the flu.
“Vaccination is one of the most successful public health interventions in history for reducing disease spread and preventing complications and deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist. “So many generations before us would have given anything to have a flu vaccine. With COVID-19’s prevalence across our state, we must use the vaccines that medical science has afforded us to help prevent illness like the flu.”
DHEC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone six months of age and older get vaccinated. Preventing the flu is particularly important for people who are at increased risk of complications from the virus, including young children, adults aged 50 years and older, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic medical conditions. 
Receiving your flu shot reduces your chances of contracting the flu, and, if contracted, lessens hospitalizations and deaths due to influenza.
COVID-19 and the flu can have similar symptoms, and they are both serious and potentially deadly diseases. However, it’s important to understand that COVID-19 is causing significantly more hospitalizations and deaths in South Carolina and across the country. When comparing COVID-19 and the flu:
  • Over the past decade, an average of 36,000 deaths per year in the United States are attributed to flu. The current total of deaths due to COVID-19 is 209,000 nationally. 
  • In South Carolina, over the past six years, there have been an average of 140 flu deaths each year. From March 1-October 7 this year, there have been 3,530 COVID-19 deaths in the state. 
  • Compared to the top causes of death in South Carolina in 2018, COVID-19 would be the third-leading cause of death in South Carolina, ahead of accidents (3,368) and behind heart disease (10,460) and cancer (10,360). 
“Another reason why it’s so important to get your flu shot this year is we don’t want to overwhelm our hospitals, ICUs, and ventilators with both flu and COVID-19 patients,” Traxler said.
Flu shots are available at multiple locations across the state, including certain DHEC public health offices, pharmacies, hospitals, doctors’ offices and other locations. To see if your local DHEC public health office offers the flu shot and to schedule an appointment, click here or call 855-472-3432 to schedule an appointment.
Learn more about the flu and see a flu vaccine announcements featuring Dr. Bell and Dr. Traxler at scdhec.gov/flu. For the latest COVID-19 information, visit scdhec.gov/COVID19.
Mayor Benjamin Receives Flu Vaccination at City Hall to Encourage Columbia Residents to Protect Themselves for the Upcoming Flu Season

On Friday, October 2, Mayor Steve Benjamin expressed the importance of preventing the spread of the flu in our Midlands communities during this fall season. Mayor Benjamin was joined by At-large City Councilman Howard Duvall.

“Even if you don’t have any chronic conditions or any special risk factors for flu, it is still important to protect yourself, protect your family and your community by getting your flu shot this year,” said Mayor Steve Benjamin.

Mayor Steve Benjamin received his flu vaccination from a representative of Doctor’s Care to lead by example of taking the preventative measures to stop the spread of the highly contagious disease.

Flu vaccinations are available at free or low cost at many pharmacies, public health departments, college health centers, employers and schools.

To stay updated about the upcoming flu season, please visit https://resilient.columbiasc.gov/
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Voter Safety Press Conference

Mayor Steve Benjamin held an important press conference on Monday, October 19 at 2:00 pm at the Richland County Court House to discuss the rights for all voters to cast their ballots in a safe atmosphere at polling stations on National Election Day, November 3. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, Columbia Police Chief William Holbrook and 5th Circuit Solicitor Byron Gipson will speak on the importance for all voters to have safe access to polling stations, with the ability to cast their votes in an atmosphere free from intimidation or threats.

“The ability for all citizens to safely participate in our election process, and the right to choose their elected representatives, is the bedrock of our American system of government and our Constitution. As such, all state and local officials must ensure that safeguards are in place to protect the rights of Americans to cast their ballots in safety,” said Mayor Steve Benjamin. “For this reason, we want to let every voter know what steps they can take to ensure their safety when waiting to cast their ballots, and how to report and ask for support if threatening situations occur at polling stations.
Mayor Benjamin Flu Shot PSA
Mayor Benjamin Flu Shot Press Conference
Follow these easy steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

 1.      Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.

2.      If soap and warm water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

3.      Clean surfaces frequently with disinfecting supplies (telephones, keyboards, copiers, printers, desks, etc.)

4.      Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other individuals

5.      Do no gather in crowds and groups.
6.      Maximize social distancing among co-workers and the public.

Remember, Safety Starts with an “S” but it begins with “YOU”.
Let’s continue to unite and fight the spread of the Coronavirus. 
City Leaders

Stephen K. Benjamin
Mayor
Sam Davis
Councilman District I
Tameika Isaac Devine
Councilwoman At-Large
Howard E. Duvall, Jr.
Councilman At-Large
Edward H. McDowell, Jr.
Councilman District II
Daniel J. Rickenmann
Councilman District IV
Will Brennan
Councilman District III
Teresa Wilson
City Manager