Mar 31, 2020

South Carolina State and Local Action on COVID-19

For a complete look at federal and state action related to the coronavirus, visit MWC’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Facts and Resources website.

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South Carolina General Assembly — Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

South Carolina State Action on COVID-19

March 31

In response to continued coronavirus concerns, Gov. Henry McMaster (R) closed nonessential businesses statewide this afternoon. The order, which takes effect on April 1 and remains in effect for the next 15 days, applies to businesses such as fitness centers, close-contact service providers, and tourist attractions but does not apply to grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, manufacturers, day cares and other businesses deemed essential. Restaurants may continue service through takeout and window orders, as currently allowed.

An essential business clarification form can be found on the Department of Commerce website.  Determinations will be made within 24 hours, during which time the business can continue operating. 

A list of businesses which have been deemed non-essential includes:

Entertainment – bowling alleys, night clubs, arcades, concert halls, theaters, auditoriums, performing arts centers, tourist attractions including museums, racetracks , indoor children play areas (not daycares), adult entertainment venues, bingo halls, venues operated by social clubs

Athletic facilities and activities – fitness centers and gyms, spas and public pools, spectator sports, events that require shared sporting equipment, public playground equipment

Close contact service providers – barber shops, hair salons, waxing salons, nail salons, spas, body art facilities, tattoo parlors, tanning salons, massage therapy.

Previous Executive Orders issued by Governor McMaster can be found by clicking here.

March 30

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said Monday his office will not sue any town or city that is trying to protect their citizens by enacting local stay at home emergency ordinances.

March 29

The state Senate had just taken eight weeks to debate and adopt a major education bill aimed at improving the state’s public schools, and the S.C. House had just delivered the Senate a state spending plan with money in it for rural roads, prison upgrades and pay raises for state employees and teachers.
The South Carolina Medicaid agency is now allowing psychologists and other counselors to give therapy online, amid concerns that many are unable to access their usual mental health care during the coronavirus pandemic.

March 27

McMaster orders ‘mandatory quarantine’ for travelers to SC from coronavirus hotspots
Anyone coming into South Carolina from New York state and several other hot spots of coronavirus infections must quarantine themselves for 14 days upon arrival, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster said in a new executive order Friday. McMaster’s mandatory order, which comes with penalties, is a stronger position than he took Wednesday, when he tweeted a request for “all out of state visitors to South Carolina planning a stay of two or more nights self quarantine for two weeks immediately upon arrival.”

SC cities’ stay-at-home orders during coronavirus are likely illegal, AG says
The state Attorney General’s Office says cities and counties in South Carolina have limited powers during states of emergency, raising questions about the legality of stay-at-home orders issued by Columbia and Charleston this week. The opinion was published Friday morning and written by Solicitor General Robert D. Cook in response to a letter Rep. Jeff Bradley, R-Beaufort, sent to the AG. The opinion cited a state law that gives the governor extraordinary powers during a state of emergency — powers which preempt that of local and county governments.

SNAP benefits in SC increased during coronavirus crisis
People who receive food assistance will get two months of additional benefits because of the coronavirus crisis, South Carolina’s Department of Social Services announced Friday. The additional benefits are intended to help families who may be facing financial hardships during the pandemic.

March 25

SC Gov. McMaster to out of state visitors: self-quarantine upon arrival  
If visiting the Palmetto State for more than two days, Gov. Henry McMaster hopes you will keep to yourself for a couple of weeks after arriving. “Today, I am requesting all out of state visitors to South Carolina planning a stay of two or more nights (to) self quarantine for two weeks immediately upon arrival,” McMaster tweeted on Wednesday.

SC officials expect more than eight thousand cases of coronavirus by early May
The number of COVID-19 cases in South Carolina is expected to climb to more than 8,000 by early May, nearly 20 times the confirmed cases so far, according to a forecast released Wednesday by the state’s public health agency. That projection could decrease significantly if residents practice social distancing as requested. When cases could peak in the state and when restrictions on work and activities could start to be lifted are unknown, agency officials said.

March 24

SC schools to remain closed until end of April amid coronavirus outbreak
Public schools in South Carolina will be closed until the end of April, officials announced Tuesday. The joint announcement — from S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster and S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman — extends by one month the amount of time students are away from schools.

SC teachers-in-training can graduate, thanks to student teaching waiver
With South Carolina’s teachers-in-training likely unable to complete their student teaching, the State Board of Education voted Tuesday to waive the number of days they must spend in a K-12 classroom to be certified. The decision allows education majors statewide to graduate on schedule and teach next school year.  

March 23

Gov. McMaster discourages groups of 3+ people as coronavirus cases in SC rise to 298
Gov. Henry McMaster rolled out a new measure on Monday that gives law enforcement more discretion to break up groups of three or more people as health officials work to stop the spread of coronavirus cases in South Carolina.

March 19

SC House sends bill providing $45M to fight coronavirus to McMaster’s desk (Gov. signed)
South Carolina’s public health agency gained access to $45 million to combat the coronavirus pandemic following a unanimous vote Thursday in the House. Gov. Henry McMaster immediately signed it, after House Speaker Jay Lucas and Senate President Harvey Peeler walked together to give it him personally.

SC servers, others can get 6 weeks unemployment pay without applying for other jobs
Restaurant workers and others who are temporarily out of work because of coronavirus can receive six weeks of unemployment benefits from the state without having to search for another job. But only if their employers apply for it.

March 17

Gov. Henry McMaster ordered Tuesday that restaurants and bars stop dine-in service starting Wednesday

The governor also prohibited gatherings of 50 people or more and ordered that state tax deadlines, both to file and pay, be delayed until June 1

Senate gives DHEC $45M to respond to coronavirus
The South Carolina Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to give the state’s public health agency access to $45 million it may need over the next six months to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

SC chief justice blocks evictions statewide in response to coronavirus
S.C. Chief Justice Don Beatty halted all evictions statewide on Tuesday in response to the economic disruption caused by the coronavirus.

McMaster wants Guard to build medical units outside hospitals if coronavirus cases rise
S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster is considering activating National Guard troops in the wake of the coronavirus that has sickened at 35 South Carolinians and is expected to get worse.

March 16

SC postpones local elections due to coronavirus concerns

March 15

Escalating crisis drove SC Gov. McMaster’s about-face on coronavirus action
On Wednesday (March 11), S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster told reporters he was planning to go to the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade this weekend in Greenville, despite well-publicized warnings for weeks from scientists around the country and world that avoiding crowds is a major way to combat the easily-spread the coronavirus.

Gov. McMaster closes all SC public schools through March as coronavirus cases rise
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced Sunday that he is ordering all 1,250 public schools closed through the end of March to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

SC price gouging law now in effect amid coronavirus spread
President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on March 13 and Gov. Henry McMaster’s declaration of a state of emergency following the continued spread of the coronavirus mean that South Carolina’s law against price gouging is now in effect.

March 14

SC Medical and Nursing Boards to Issue Emergency Licenses
The SC Board of Medical Examiners and the SC Board of Nursing have procedures in place to temporarily license individuals in times of an emergency.

March 13

Gov. McMaster declares state of emergency, orders Lancaster, Kershaw County schools closed
Governor Henry McMaster will hold a media availability this afternoon and declare a state of emergency throughout the state to enhance the state's response to the COVID-19 virus' impact on the South Carolina.

SC prisons ends visits for 30 days to prevent coronavirus outbreak
The S.C. Department of Corrections is prohibiting visitors to its correctional institutions for 30 days in an attempt to keep the coronavirus from spreading inside the state’s prison system.

Executive Orders in Response to COVID-19

Executive Order 2020-07: Lifting Transportation Restrictions (March 11, 2020)

Executive Order 2020-08: Declaring State of Emergency (March 13, 2020)

Executive Order 2020-09: Closing Schools, Other Provisions (March 15, 2020)

Executive Order 2020-10: Directing Additional Emergency Measures (March 17, 2020)

Executive Order 2020-11: Directing Additional Emergency Measures (March 19, 2020)

  • Directs nonessential state employees to be sent home to work, including at state higher education institutions
  • Suspends state procurement procedures
  • Suspends certificate of need regulations as necessary

Executive Order 2020-12: Regulatory Flexibility to Facilitate “Social Distancing” (Mar. 21, 2020)

  • Allows curbside delivery or pickup of alcohol

Executive Order 2020-13: Authorizing LEOs to Preserve Public Health (March 23, 2020)

  • Directs law enforcement to break up public gatherings of three or more people

Executive Order 2020-14: Self-Quarantine for Individuals from High-Risk Areas (Mar. 27, 2020)  

Executive Order 2020-15: State of Emergency Due to COVID-Pandemic (March 28, 2020)
  • Activates SC National Guard for COVID response

Executive Order 2020-16: Emergency Access Restrictions for Public Beaches and Waters due to COVID-19 Pandemic (March 30, 2020)

Executive Order 2020-17: Closure of Nonessential businesses (March 31, 2020)

South Carolina Local Action on COVID-19

March 30

The city of Greenville will forge ahead with its own emergency "stay-at-home" ordinance — one that will require by law people keep a six-foot distance and that will essentially mean some businesses will have to close. The City Council will meet in a specially called meeting on Tuesday to vote on the ordinance designed to stem the spread of novel coronavirus. 

March 28

The city of Columbia is proceeding with its stay-at-home ordinance, going into effect at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, to combat the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Mayor Steve Benjamin announced in a series of tweets Saturday.

Richland County recommends $1.5M for coronavirus response but table stay-at-home vote
A Richland County Council committee voted Saturday to put $1.5 million toward responding to the coronavirus. The council’s coronavirus ad hoc committee passed funding for business relief, public safety and food needs as COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, continues to spread its effects through all levels of Richland County. 

March 27

Mount Pleasant officials clash over coronavirus powers and possible stay-at-home order
As more cities in South Carolina order businesses to close and residents to stay home, members of Town Council and the mayor are clashing over who has the power to make such a decision. Mayor Will Haynie has been outspoken about the need to “bend the curve” and slow the spread of COVID-19, and the town has restricted gatherings and closed some parks and playgrounds.

Columbia police may ticket or arrest under shelter-in-place law. Compassion promised
Walking to the corner store to buy beer with a couple of friends — or petting someone’s dog while on a stroll — could land you in jail for 30 days or cost you $500 under Columbia’s shelter-in-place ordinance. While the punishments for violating the city’s latest law are possible, Columbia Police Department promises officers will be “exercising common sense.”  

March 26

Columbia passes stay-at-home order to halt spread of coronavirus
Residents of South Carolina’s capital city are being asked to stay home as much as possible to avoid spreading the coronavirus, under a plan released to the public on Thursday. Columbia City Council approved a shelter-in-place ordinance on Thursday that requires city residents to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary. The ordinance goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

March 25

Kiawah, Edisto, Isle of Palms halt short-term rentals as beach towns clamp down on coronavirus
Kiawah Island, Edisto Beach and Isle of Palms are the latest coastal towns to limit short-term rentals, with their leaders saying concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus required a limit on new visitors to the communities.

MUSC plans to use old children’s hospital to fight coronavirus
To better prepare for a surge in coronavirus disease, Charleston’s largest medical center is equipping an old building at its downtown campus. The Medical University of South Carolina said Wednesday it is preparing a portion of its old children’s hospital to prepare for the pandemic’s strike. The health system is also considering using space in Ashley River Tower on Ashley Avenue. The move could add roughly 100 beds to the downtown campus.

Shelter-in-place for Columbia? Leaders to discuss possibility after Charleston order
After South Carolina’s largest city ordered its residents to stay at home with few exceptions, the state’s capital city now will discuss whether it should do the same to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

Prisma Health says it’s developed a way to make one ventilator work for four coronavirus patients
Prisma Health said Wednesday that it has developed a device that will allow one ventilator to be used on four patients suffering from the coronavirus. Officials said that the device, called the VESper, or ventilation expansion splitter, has been approved by the FDA for emergency use authorization. They said they will share the development with the world, including Italy which has suffered so much, in an effort to help patients.

March 24

Charleston City Council approves ‘stay at home’ ordinance with broad exceptions for businesses
Charleston marks the first city in South Carolina to enact a “stay at home” ordinance, urging residents to only go out if it is to the grocery store, pharmacy, doctor’s office or outside for exercise as state leaders anticipate an exponential increase in coronavirus cases. The ordinance exempts a large number of businesses currently operating with diminished staffing: grocery stores, health care facilities, utility companies, restaurants and bars that are using carry out or delivery, liquor stores, banks, construction, hardware stores, homeless shelters and news outlets, among others, are allowed to stay open.

Greenville City Council passes curfew for downtown to take effect this week
Greenville City Council members voted Monday to enact a curfew for the downtown area to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Council members passed a temporary emergency ordinance that enacts the curfew within the central business district of downtown Greenville.

Here's how Upstate law enforcement agencies enforce Gov. McMaster’s ‘3 or more’ order
Law enforcement agencies in the Upstate are turning to common sense after Gov. Henry McMaster's order to disperse groups of three or more. Greenville County deputies are not cracking down on outdoor gatherings of three or more following Gov. Henry McMaster's order aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, according to a statement from Greenville County Sheriff Hobart Lewis. Lewis told The Greenville News that McMaster's directive gives deputies flexibility to address the worsening pandemic, but he does not intend to strictly enforce the order in Greenville County.

March 20

Charleston beach islands restrict access, barriers and checkpoints to be set up
The beaches are shutting down just one day after officials said they would try to stay open. Flagrant disregard of keeping a safe distance on the sands during the recent sunny days helped spur the reversal.

March 19

Charleston school district rolls out Wi-Fi equipped buses to help with remote learning
Charleston County students now have the opportunity to access the internet from 10 Wi-Fi-equipped school buses stationed at schools across the district. 

Mount Pleasant restricts gatherings to 10 people, urges residents to stay at home
Just days ago, there were no coronavirus restrictions in this town, but now restaurant dining rooms are closed and Mayor Will Haynie just announced that all public gatherings are limited to 10 people.

In SC’s coronavirus hot zone, drive-thru testing on the way (Camden/Kershaw County)
Drive-thru testing service for the new coronavirus is en route to Kershaw County, where it has hit South Carolina hardest.

Berkeley County sheriff encourages self-reporting incidents amid SC’s coronavirus outbreak
Amid the spread of the new coronavirus throughout South Carolina, the Berkeley County sheriff is encouraging residents to self-report incidents whenever possible to limit potential exposure of the virus to deputies. 

March 18

Charleston-area police struggle to enforce gathering bans, restaurant closures
As government orders shut down many aspects of daily life in the Charleston area, police and sheriff’s deputies face an unprecedented task of enforcing Gov. Henry McMaster’s ban on gatherings of more than 50 people and the closure of all dine-in services at restaurants and bars.

March 17

Columbia imposes citywide coronavirus curfew starting at 11 p.m. Wednesday
Columbia has imposed a citywide curfew in order to combat the spread of the coronavirus in the Midlands.

Prisma Health converts North Greenville Hospital into dedicated facility for coronavirus
Prisma Health is turning the 45-bed North Greenville Hospital into a dedicated facility for the care of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients. Other Prisma hospitals will continue to care for patients with the virus, but the move was made at North Greenville Hospital in Travelers Rest to provide additional capacity if needed.

North Charleston urges residents to limit gatherings to 10 people or less
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey on Tuesday strongly urged limiting gatherings to 10 people or less, aligning with federal and state guidelines.

Berkeley County declares state of emergency amid SC coronavirus outbreak
Berkeley County Council issued a state of emergency declaration on Tuesday, joining a number of neighboring counties that are taking increased precautions during South Carolina’s coronavirus outbreak.

Mount Pleasant suspends normal operations and seeks to limit spread of new coronavirus
Emergency procedures related to the new coronavirus were formalized by Town Council on Tuesday in a meeting conducted by telephone to limit in-person contact.

March 16

Greenville bans inside dining at restaurants and bars in effort to slow coronavirus
The move to ban dining and drinking inside restaurants, bars and breweries to stem the spread of COVID-19 took wing Tuesday across South Carolina — first in an emergency order by the city of Greenville's mayor and followed by a declaration by Gov. Henry McMaster.

Columbia mayor declares local state of emergency amid coronavirus pandemic
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin declared a local state of emergency Monday evening in an effort to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

South Carolina COVID-19 Cases

March 27

Charleston County now leads SC in coronavirus cases, with 516 total across state
New coronavirus testing numbers from the Department of Health and Environmental Control list 516 total coronavirus cases in South Carolina, 91 of which are in Charleston County. Charleston County’s 31-case increase places leaves Richland, which has 65 cases, in a distant second place.

March 25

SC health officials reinvestigating 82 new coronavirus cases, bringing total to 424 in 39 states
South Carolina officials are investigating 82 new coronavirus cases as the state’s total expanded to 424 incidences in 39 counties on Wednesday. For the first time, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control included projections for new cases: 2,657 by April 2 and 8,053 by May 2.

March 24

SC health officials report 44 new coronavirus cases, Jasper County gets first case
South Carolina health officials on Tuesday identified 44 new cases of the coronavirus as state leaders continue to combat the virus that now totals 342 cases statewide in 36 counties.

March 23

SC health officials report 44 new coronavirus cases, Jasper County gets first case
Two more deaths related to the coronavirus were reported by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control on Monday, bringing the state’s total number of deaths to five. Meanwhile, 103 new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, were reported Monday, which brought the state’s total to 298 cases in 34 counties.

March 19

21 new cases of coronavirus in SC. Abbeville, Saluda counties see first cases
17 counties affected, 81 total cases in the state

No one knows how many coronavirus tests are being run in SC, even as efforts ramp up
No one knows for certain how many people in South Carolina have been tested for the new coronavirus or when the full extent of its spread might be known.

March 18

Patient tests positive for coronavirus in Lowcountry, Dorchester County officials say
Another case of coronavirus was confirmed in South Carolina Wednesday morning when a patient tested positive for COVID-19 at a Lowcountry health facility.

March 17

Coronavirus cases in SC continue to rise, with two identified in Charleston area
As the number of positive coronavirus tests in South Carolina grew to 47, Gov. Henry McMaster ordered gatherings of 50 or more people halted in order to slow COVID-19′s spread.

March 16

Lexington man is first coronavirus patient to in SC to die, officials say
A Lexington man recently diagnosed with coronavirus has died, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said Monday. He is the first person in South Carolina to die after testing positive for COVID-19.

March 15

SC reports 9 new coronavirus cases in Anderson, Greenville, Horry, Kershaw counties
Cases have been confirmed in Anderson, Greenville and Horry counties for the first time since the outbreak began, a state Department of Health and Environmental Control official said at a news conference with Gov. Henry McMaster Sunday afternoon.