COVID-19, or “coronavirus,” is a highly contagious respiratory disease that has now been detected in more than 100 locations, including the United States. Anyone can become infected but COVID-19 has shown to be especially dangerous for the elderly and those with chronic illnesses. Right now in South Carolina we have an opportunity to get ahead of this and slow the spread of this disease but it will take all of us working together as a community to protect one another. Out of an abundance of caution I have postponed all of my public meetings and campaign events until further notice and I encourage everyone to take similar precautions and practice social distancing.
Here is a collection of resources and information about the outbreak:
The Latest in South Carolina:
On March 31, Governor McMaster ordered the closure of all nonessential businesses in South Carolina. The order can be read here.
On March 30, Congressman Joe Cunningham called on Governor McMaster to issue a statewide stay-at-home order.
On March 30, Governor McMaster ordered the closure of all South Carolina beaches as well as all boat ramps and landings on the state’s lakes, rivers and waterways.
On March 24, Charleston City Council passed a 2-week “Stay at Home” order which instructs Charleston residents to remain in their homes for 14 days and only leave to run ‘essential’ errands. The full ordinance can be read here.
On March 24, Governor McMaster and Education Superintendent Molly Spearman jointly announced that South Carolina schools will not reopen in April.
On March 23, Governor McMaster issued an executive order directing law enforcement to “disperse groups of 3 or more according to their discretion.” This executive order does not apply to private residences or businesses.
On March 20, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that the tax filing deadline will be pushed back to July 15th.
On March 20, Governor McMaster announced that small businesses in SC can apply for disaster assistance loans from the Small Business Administration.
On March 19, Governor McMaster announced that:
Each public university, college, and technical college president will, at their discretion, determine essential employees & allow non-essential employees to work from home, and in all cases, to allow students to continue coursework online for the semester
Waived Department of Employment and Workforce regulations to allow unemployment claims to be expedited by at least one week
Unemployment insurance payments are suspended for employers until June 1st, allowing business owners to have additional capital on hand
Procurement regulations are temporarily suspended to allow state agencies to rapidly acquire resources to combat the COVID-19 virus
DHEC will temporarily suspend enforcement of certificate of need regulations necessary to expedite treatment for the virus
On March 17, Governor McMaster announced that:
Restaurants and bars must close their dine-in service starting March 18 but should continue to provide delivery and take-out options
All state taxes are delayed until June 1st
State agencies waive any regulation they need to address the coronavirus crisis
Organized events of more than 50 persons in a state, county, city, or other publicly-owned facility are prohibited, except for essential government functions
On March 15, Governor McMaster announced that all public schools and colleges in South Carolina will be closed through the end of March.
The CDC has recommended that for the next 8 weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the U.S.
One of the most effective ways to slow the spread of COVID-19 is by practicing social distancing. This means:
Avoiding any large gatherings
Maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet between yourself and others whenever possible
Limiting trips to stores and restaurants
Working from home whenever possible
Social distancing has proven to be effective at “flattening the curve” which is an attempt to slow the spread of disease so that we don’t overburden our healthcare system. Flattening the curve also gives healthcare providers time to prepare and stock up on crucial supplies.
Other precautions to take:
Wash your hands frequently (CDC guidelines on handwashing can be found here)
Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
Disinfect frequently-touched surfaces every day
Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
Avoid shaking hands
Avoid air travel
Cover your cough/sneezes
Stay home if you feel sick
According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms can appear 2-14 days after exposure.
If you or a loved one is showing flu-like symptoms or has any concerns about the virus, MUSC is offering free, 24/7 virtual/telemedicine screenings for COVID-19.
The DHEC Care Line can also be called at 1-855-472-3432 from 8am – 6pm x 7 days a week.
One final note, during this time our community’s small businesses are going to take a hit. Consider shopping online, ordering delivery, or buying gift cards to use later on as a way to relieve some of the burden on your favorite stores and restaurants.