May 13, 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 COVID-19 Data

Confirmed COVID-19 positives in SC (all labs): 7,927 (8.5% of all tests)
Negative tests by DHEC Public Health Lab: 19,016
Negative tests by private labs: 66,197
Total negative tests in SC: 85,213
Deaths in SC: 355

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control COVID-19 Data

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South Carolina State Action on COVID-19

May 12

McMaster poised to sign bill to avoid SC government shutdown, fund COVID-19 response
South Carolina lawmakers on Tuesday adopted an emergency measure that now keeps state government funded past June 30 and spends millions of dollars more to respond to the state’s COVID-19 outbreak and response.

SC lawmakers OK absentee voting expansion in June 9 primary out of COVID-19 fears
Any South Carolinian registered to vote in the upcoming June 9 primary who feared voting in-person due to the COVID-19 outbreak will be able to request an absentee ballot from the State Election Commission. State lawmakers on Tuesday fast-tracked legislation allowing registered primary voters to request an absentee ballot while the state is under an emergency order. The legislation — which Gov. Henry McMaster will sign, his spokesman said — sunsets on July 1, meaning it will not apply to the November general election.

SC lawmakers take up COVID-19 work again, after Santee Cooper stymied earlier deal
An impasse over the fate of the state’s debt-saddled power utility derailed lawmakers’ efforts last month to adopt emergency measures aimed at funding the state’s fight against the coronavirus and keep government operating. Facing the threat of a repeat, South Carolina lawmakers return to Columbia on Tuesday, picking up where they left off and pledging, this time, to get their work done. Planning to be in session at the state Capitol for at least two days this week, State House leaders appear more confident that, despite differences of opinion on whether to sell or reform state-owned Santee Cooper, they have reached an agreement that will keep state services funded past June 30 with plans to return in September to adopt the 2021 budget and possibly take up other proposals.

DHEC announces more than a dozen new coronavirus testing clinic in Midlands
South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control will have more than a dozen new pop-up clinics and mobile testing sites for the COVID-19 over the next several weeks, it announced Tuesday.

May 11

Salons, gyms, pools across South Carolina can reopen next Monday, McMaster says
Salons, gyms and communal swimming pools can reopen in a week, Gov. Henry McMaster announced Monday in the latest rollback of restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The businesses requiring close contact can open their doors to customers May 18, nearly seven weeks after McMaster ordered them to shutter. 

SC Health agency identifies 1,800 contact tracers to help curb COVID-19 outbreak
South Carolina’s public health agency announced having met a major goal in it’s fight against the coronavirus: identifying more than 1,800 contact tracers who will help the state curb the COVID-19 outbreak. In a news release, the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control reported it had increased its number of contact tracers from 20 to 400 staff members as of Monday. Additionally, the state agency said it has now another 1,400 contact tracers through contracts with two private staffing companies: Apple One and C-Trace. The agency said, additionally, 667 people have submitted a online form saying they too would be interested in becoming a contact tracer.

May 10

SC lawmakers to gavel in as pressure mounts to expand absentee voting amid COVID-19
Poll workers are on short supply in some counties, candidates are spending money pushing voters to cast absentee ballots, and lawsuits against the state in federal and state courts aim to settle the question: Can someone vote absentee to avoid going to the polls and potentially catching the novel coronavirus? These are the realities S.C. lawmakers face as they return to work Tuesday, weeks after the state’s Republican governor and some legislative leaders said they saw no reason to take the legislative action required to expand the reasons for voting absentee or postpone the primary entirely.

May 8

Restaurants can soon offer indoor service during COVID-19, McMaster says
If you’re hungry and tired of cooking, then you’ll soon have the option to sit down inside a restaurant in South Carolina. Gov. Henry McMaster announced on Friday that he will allow indoor dining at restaurants starting Monday, May 11, though each restaurant will determine whether to open its doors to customers in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

SC economists say state budget losses are growing due to COVID-19 outbreak
The state’s budget forecasters on Friday reported that money coming into the state for the month of April was down — about $400 million, or nearly 43% — adding that decline is likely tied to tax filing extensions which both the federal and state government approved by back in mid-March. Approximately 19,200 fewer returns were filed, they said.

May 1

Gov. McMaster to Lift “Work-or-Home” Order May 4th
Governor Henry McMaster today announced that the statewide “Work-or-Home” order will be lifted and returned to voluntary status on Monday, May 4th. The governor also announced that beginning on May 4th, restaurants throughout South Carolina may provide outdoor customer dining service in addition to existing take out, curbside, and delivery services. The governor also announced that he has lifted Executive Order 2020-19 because CDC guidance identifying “hotspots” throughout the country, which constituted the basis upon which short term rental companies were to deny reservations, has since lapsed and was not renewed. The governor has also lifted Executive Order 2020-14, which required individuals entering the state from the same “hotspots” to self-quarantine for two weeks.

April 30

With emergency orders for COVID-19 awaiting votes, SC lawmakers return to work in May
South Carolina lawmakers are coming back to Columbia next month to potentially pass emergency orders in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, marking what appears to be a breakthrough in negotiations that went sour this month.

April 28

SC governor postpones more local elections due to coronavirus
Elections across South Carolina scheduled for May have been postponed due to the coronavirus, according to a statement from the State Election Commission. S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster ordered Monday that elections originally scheduled for May 5 and May 12 will be rescheduled for a later date.

Early, absentee voting to open in all 46 SC counties Monday under coronavirus conditions
Early voting in all 46 South Carolina county election offices begins statewide Monday for the June 9 Republican and Democratic primaries, with officials suggesting you’d be safer casting a ballot by mail if you can. Otherwise, one precaution being pitched for in-person voting is to bring your own sanitized pen to sign in with.

Group of SC lawmakers will go ‘virtual’ in first meeting since COVID-19 outbreak
Cue potential audio snafus, but a group of South Carolina lawmakers is ready to go virtual to handle state business. The Joint Bond Review Committee, a joint 10-member House and Senate committee chaired by both of the chambers’ budget chairmen, will meet May 6 using the video conference platform Zoom.

April 27

SC Gov. McMaster extends state of emergency
Gov. Henry McMaster on Monday extended South Carolina's state of emergency order to mid-May. The extension allows McMaster to continue issuing executive orders as the state responds to the coronavirus pandemic. McMaster has begun to ease orders on some businesses and outdoor recreation while keeping others — including a stay-at-home order — in effect.

April 23

Under McMaster’s order, SC businesses open back up. But some owners remain skeptical
With Gov. Henry McMaster’s official blessing, several Columbia-area businesses reopened doors to customers Tuesday while others say they remain skeptical they will open back up before May as the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the state continues to grow. And owners of businesses in what is likely the next wave of reopenings — close contact businesses such as salons and gyms, and possibly inside dining at restaurants — are increasingly anxious about opening and putting themselves and their customers back at risk.

April 22

SC schools to remain closed for the rest of the school year
South Carolina's public elementary, middle and high schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year to limit the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Henry McMaster and state Superintendent Molly Spearman announced Wednesday. Spearman said the state will create a task force made up of educators and health-care workers to help determine what the fall will look like for K-12 schools. A decision has not yet been made to re-open schools in August.

April 16

Gov. McMaster: SC economy expected to be ‘humming, back in business,’ by June’s end
Aiming to get the state’s economy moving again after it has stalled under the weight of a global pandemic, Gov. Henry McMaster on Thursday announced plans to create a new task force that will include key state stakeholders from hospitality to manufacturing in hopes to get the state’s economy “humming” by the end of June.

Gov. McMaster offers to call SC lawmakers back to Columbia once COVID-19 peak passes
As the number of coronavirus cases in South Carolina continues to climb, state lawmakers are facing an increasingly difficult question: when to return to Columbia to pass essential legislation to keep state government operating and to address a slate of other critical matters, including approving spending for its own response to the unprecedented health crisis.

April 14

COVID-19 closures could shrink SC’s budget surplus by $1.2 billion
South Carolina legislators could have $1.2 billion less to spend for the upcoming fiscal year, but even with a three-month shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state could still have a $750 million surplus, according to updated projections Thursday.

SC’s 53 airports to share $97M in federal economic stimulus grants because of pandemic
Airports across South Carolina will receive more than $97 million in federal grants through the CARES Act economic stimulus program. The bulk — about $76.3 million — will go to the state’s four busiest airports, with the rest split between 49 smaller, mostly county-run sites across the Palmetto State.

A balancing act: Coronavirus complicates Upstate South Carolina tornado relief efforts
Hundreds remained without power and an unknown number of people have been displaced from their Seneca homes after an EF3 tornado ripped with winds over 160 mph through Oconee County early Monday morning, killing at least one person in the area.

April 13

Governor says SC faces ‘new disaster’ after storm, tornados
“We have a new disaster on our hands now,” Gov. Henry McMaster said Monday. McMaster was speaking Monday at one of his regular news conferences to update the state on the coronavirus outbreak. But South Carolina suffered another blow early Monday when heavy storm winds and tornadoes struck the state from the Upstate to the Lowcountry.

South Carolina pays out $53 million in federal unemployment benefits
The Department of Employment and Workforce is paying out tens of millions in unemployment compensation while it awaits federal funding to implement new benefits programs.

April 12

SC coronavirus lockdown rules as state emergency extended to end of April
Gov. Henry McMaster has declared a new state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak. The new order extends the previous one until at least April 27.

Can the SC auto industry survive the coronavirus pandemic?
The coronavirus pandemic has hit South Carolina’s auto industry hard. Assembly plants like the sprawling BMW plant in Greer and the new Volvo plant in Ridgeville have temporarily shuttered. Those closures have sent shock waves through the state’s supply and staffing firms that feed those plants.

April 8

An unusual emergency session in the South Carolina State House to extend state government spending during the coronavirus pandemic broke down Wednesday into an impassioned dispute over how much flexibility lawmakers should give to a state-run utility. The S.C. House approved a stop-gap measure that will maintain state government spending at current levels for the next few months until they are able to hash out a new budget when the novel coronavirus subsides.
 
Two state lawmakers want the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control to release more demographic data on who has tested positive for the coronavirus and who has died. In a letter to the state’s health agency, Democratic State Reps. Patricia Henegan and John King, both African Americans who represent districts with large black populations, said they want to know if the coronavirus is disproportionately affecting minority communities, especially among the people who have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

April 7

Though coronavirus cases are expected to peak in South Carolina before voters head to the polls in June and November, the pandemic could have an impact on the state’s electoral process, curbing voting and putting poll workers and voters at risk. To lessen that impact, state legislators will meet briefly for an emergency session on Wednesday to adopt measures that include setting aside of up to $15 million to cover costs directly related to protecting the health of the state’s voters, poll workers and local election employees.

April 6

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued a “home or work” order Monday after increasing pressure from public health officials over the coronavirus pandemic. The order requires residents to stay at home or work unless visiting family, exercising, or getting essential goods or services, including food and medicine. McMaster said during a press briefing that the order will go into effect Tuesday at 5 p.m.
 
South Carolina issued a stay-at-home order on Monday, the last state east of the Mississippi River to tell residents they must limit their travel during the coronavirus outbreak. Gov. Henry McMaster also issued an order restricting the number of shoppers in stores.

April 3

South Carolina paid out millions in unemployment insurance benefits this week, highlighting an escalating economic crisis in the state that’s left tens of thousands of workers out of jobs.
 
Chief Justice Don Beatty of the South Carolina Supreme Court says an order to halt evictions amid the coronavirus outbreak isn’t to be misconstrued to mean housing payments should not be paid.

April 2

South Carolina public health officials are creating a statewide database of addresses of known positive COVID-19 cases, a secure tool only made available to first responders who have argued the information could help protect them. The tool is especially important after Thursday’s announcement the coronavirus patients have now been found in all 46 South Carolina counties.

March 31

In his latest move to lower the number of coronavirus cases in South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster will announce a 15-day closing of nonessential businesses on Tuesday, according to a source briefed about the plans. The latest executive order, announced at a news conference, comes a day after McMaster ordered a ban all public access to beaches, rivers and lakes after large outdoor gatherings continued last weekend.

March 30

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster ordered the state’s beaches and waterways closed to the public, amid concerns crowds enjoying the warm weather could further spread the coronavirus.
 
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)  

  • Rescinded by Executive Order 2020-3 (May 1, 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 Non-Essential Businesses (March 31, 2020)
Executive Order 2020-18: Closure of Additional Non-Essential Businesses (April 3, 2020)
  • Expands list of non-essential businesses
Executive Order 2020-19: Lodging and Travel Restrictions for Individuals from High-Risk Areas (April 3, 2020)
  • Rescinded by Executive Order 2020-3 (May 1, 2020)
Executive Order 2020-21: Home or Work Order (April 6, 2020)
  • Effective April 7, 2020 at 5pm, requires residents and visitors to limit social interaction
Executive Order 2020-22: Authorization for COVID-19 Support Payments by Employers (April 7, 2020)
  • Allows furloughed employees to receive support payments from their employers and still qualify for unemployment benefits

Executive Order 2022-23: Third State of Emergency Due to COVID-19 Pandemic (April 12, 2020)

  • Extends state of emergency, all previous orders remain in effect

Executive Order 2022-25: Modifications of Emergency Restrictions for Public Waters & Emergency Measures for Unemployment Claims & Benefits (April 16, 2020)

Executive Order 2022-28: Modifications of Emergency Restrictions for Public Waters & Beaches to Account for Home or Work Order (April 20, 2020)

Executive Order 2020-29: State of Emergency Due to COVID-19 Response (April 27, 2020) 

Executive Order 2020-30: Rescinding Self-Quarantine, Lodging, & Travel Restrictions for Individuals Entering SC from High-Risk Areas (May 1, 2020)

Executive Order 2020-31: Modification of Home or Work Order & Authorization of Outdoor Dining Services (May 3, 2020)

Executive Order 2020-33: Rescheduling Elections Postponed (May 8, 2020)

Executive Order 2020-34: Authorization of Limited Indoor Dining Services and Rescission of Boating Restrictions (May 8, 2020)

Executive Order 2020-35: State of Emergency to Facilitate COVID-19 Pandemic Response, Testing, and Other Measures (May 12, 2020)

South Carolina Local Action on COVID-19

May 13

Columbia keeps city parks closed amid coronavirus pandemic, with an exception
Even as South Carolina slowly reopens from its coronavirus-induced lockdown, Columbia’s city parks will remain closed for up to 60 days after a city council vote on Tuesday. But city officials also want to clarify how the closure is being enforced. Although park facilities such as playground equipment and athletic fields remain closed, walkways and open green spaces are open to the public, as long as social distancing guidelines are followed.

May 11

Berkeley County plans to reopen offices, courts and libraries starting next week
Employees with Berkeley County government will start returning to work next week as offices, libraries and courts start to reopen to the public amid the coronavirus outbreak. County government buildings are expected to open May 20.

Sullivan’s Island reopening Tuesday, Folly Beach on Friday. Some restrictions remain
Roadblocks on Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island will be gone by the end of the week, though some rules will stay in place on Sullivan’s Island. Leaders in both beach communities decided Monday to lift some restrictions to non-island residents.

May 4

Greenville County plans small business relief as major part of $91M federal COVID-19 grant
Greenville County received a mother lode of cash from the federal government to help with COVID-19 relief — $91,354,041.70, to be exact — and now faces the welcome, but daunting, challenge of figuring out how to spend it before Dec. 31.The money came by electronic transfer from the U.S. Treasury about a week ago, said County Council Chairman Butch Kirven. This was about a week after the county learned through an announcement on the treasury department's website that Greenville County was the only political subdivision in the state, with more than 500,000 residents, to qualify for local aide in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic.

May 3

First Charleston outdoor attractions reopen after coronavirus closures
Two high-profile historic sites in Charleston have reopened to visitors after closing because of the coronavirus pandemic, but, for now, operations will be limited to outdoor self-guided tours.

April 28

Sullivan’s Island to keep police checkpoints as IOP eases restrictions
Neighboring communities will have mismatched beach access hours beginning May 1 as council members in Isle of Palms voted to ease their police checkpoint hours after Sullivan’s Island decided to maintain restrictions.

Policed from above: SC beach town uses drone to enforce social distancing for coronavirus
As South Carolina beach towns grapple with how — or if — to open their sand to recreation in a pandemic, North Myrtle Beach has adopted a novel approach to enforce social distancing. The small town with 9 miles of beach is using a drone to make sure revelers aren’t clustering too closely.

Hilton Head to restore beach access starting May 1, but only for residents
Hilton Head Island will gradually reopen its public beach parks and parking lots to beach pass holders starting Friday after officials closed them more than a month ago due to the coronavirus pandemic.

April 24

At least 185 charged with violating SC's emergency orders
Police have charged at least 185 people with violating the provisions of South Carolina's coronavirus-related state of emergency since Gov. Henry McMaster put it in place last month, a review of court records obtained by The Greenville News found.

April 23

Greenville government and business task force created to help in coronavirus recovery
Leaders of local government and business advocacy have assembled a group to help advise on how Greenville reopens its economy. The Business Recovery Task Force will consist of 18 members selected as point people in a variety of positions of leadership – from restaurants, nonprofits, real estate, hospitality, retail and healthcare, among others.

April 22

Charleston setting strictest laws following businesses opening under governor’s order
Charleston businesses cleared to reopen under the governor’s order will be required to have additional coronavirus safety procedures in place starting Thursday morning, making the state’s largest city the one with South Carolina’s strictest rules to reopen.

April 14

Charleston City Council panel hears second small business loan proposal
Members of a Charleston City Council committee heard details of a second bridge loan proposal designed to help struggling small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

April 7

Cayce implements curfew to combat coronavirus pandemic
Cayce’s city council on Tuesday voted unanimously to set a citywide curfew in effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.The curfew begins Wednesday, April 8, and will be in effect from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Travel within city limits is restricted during those times except to those going to work or for health care reasons.

April 6

Columbia shutters two businesses for allegedly violating closure orders amid COVID-19
The Columbia Police Department over the weekend cited and closed a pair of retail businesses that were continuing to operate despite being deemed nonessential in the city’s recent stay at home order amid the growing coronavirus pandemic.

City of Beaufort tells residents to shelter in place. Here’s how that will be enforced
The city of Beaufort took a formal step in telling residents to stay home during the coronavirus outbreak, issuing a shelter-in-place order during an emergency meeting Monday.

April 1

Richland County to consider stay-at-home order
As Columbia residents hunker down this week under a citywide stay-at-home order, Richland County Council is inching closer to considering its own stay-at-home order for the rest of the county as it leads the state in known COVID-19 cases. Council members voted on Tuesday to ask county staff to draw up language for a potential ordinance to consider at its next council meeting, as some members urged swift action in response to the spread of the coronavirus.

March 31

Mount Pleasant issues stay home order starting Thursday to limit coronavirus spread
Residents of South Carolina’s fourth-largest city have been ordered to stay at home for 14 days starting Thursday, with broad exceptions for essential businesses. Short-term rentals will be prohibited during that period of time, which ends April 15, but hotels could continue to operate. Current short-term rental guests can remain until the end of their reservation. The mandatory stay-at-home proclamation and two-page list of essential businesses, ranging from lawn care to hospitals, was posted on the town’s website Tuesday afternoon.

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

May 12

SC coronavirus cases hit 7,927. Death toll reaches 355 Tuesday
Coronavirus cases in South Carolina continue to rise after 147 people tested positive for the virus, bringing the statewide total to 7,927, state health officials said Tuesday. Department of Health and Environmental Control officials also announced that nine additional people have died after contracting COVID-19, raising the death toll to 355. One of the people who died was a middle-aged person from Aiken County. The others were described as elderly and were from Darlington (2); Florence (1); Richland (2); Spartanburg (1) and Williamsburg (2) counties.

May 11

140 more test positive for coronavirus in SC. 15 additional people dead from virus
South Carolina health officials identified 140 additional people with the coronavirus Monday, and 15 more who have died after contracting COVID-19. That brings the statewide death toll to 346 and the total number of identified cases to 7,792, according to a statement from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

May 8

SC nursing home COVID-19 deaths top 100, one-third of entire state’s virus toll
The death toll in South Carolina nursing homes and other care facilities has grown to 107, up from 84 deaths earlier in the week, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported Friday. The deaths include both residents and staff, said Dr. Linda Bell, S.C. state epidemiologist, who spoke at a press conference with Gov. Henry McMaster. Also, DHEC reported, the number of residents and staff testing positive in the state’s 194 nursing homes has grown to 1,072 since earlier in the week, when the state health agency reported 851 cases.

May 3

Coronavirus cases surpass 6,500 in South Carolina, eight more deaths reported
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control confirmed 141 new cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 6,626. In addition to the new cases, state health officials said eight more people have died after testing positive for COVID-19, including two individuals from Richland County. Other deaths were reported in Berkeley, Clarendon, Greenville, Horry, Lexington and Spartanburg counties. All eight deaths were elderly patients, according to state health officials.

May 1

Deaths of staff, residents in SC nursing homes, care facilities rise to 69, DHEC says
Sixty-nine patients and staff at 72 of South Carolina’s nursing homes and care facilities have died from the COVID-19 virus, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported Friday. Those care facility deaths are approximately 27% of all 256 South Carolina deaths known to have been caused by COVID-19.

April 29

DHEC discovers 29 people died of coronavirus that the agency never knew about
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control says it has discovered 29 people died of the coronavirus that agency officials didn’t know about until the department began cross-checking data. The department’s finding brings the total number of South Carolinians killed by the virus to 232, a substantial increase from what the agency had reported earlier in the day.

April 28

SC coronavirus cases climb to 5,735. Death toll reaches 192 Tuesday
South Carolina health officials announced Tuesday that 123 additional coronavirus patients have been identified, bringing the statewide total to 5,735. Department of Health and Environmental Control officials also reported 15 deaths of people who contracted COVID-19. That brings the statewide death toll to 192.

44 people who lives, worked in SC nursing homes have died from COVID-19
Almost a quarter of the people in South Carolina who have died from the coronavirus were patients or employees at nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the state.

On Tuesday, the state’s health agency said 44 residents and staff members of long-term care facilities — nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities and community residential care facilities — have died from complications of the coronavirus. Those deaths make up roughly 23% of the 192 deaths in the state that have resulted from COVID-19, the sometimes severe respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

New ‘hero serum’ offers hope for doctors, patients fighting coronavirus in South Carolina
A patient at Prisma Health Richland received a lifeline in the form of a new “convalescent serum” derived from the blood plasma of a patient in Tennessee who had already recovered from COVID-19. South Carolina hospitals are beginning to treat patients who are seriously ill with the virus using an experimental therapy that proved effective so far.

April 27

SC coronavirus cases grow by 142. Three additional deaths announced Monday
The coronavirus has spread to 142 more people in South Carolina, bringing the statewide total to 5,613, state health officials announced Monday. Greenville County saw the largest increase in cases with 44 because a private lab turned in one month’s worth of positive tests at one time.

April 25

Known cases of coronavirus connected to Columbia nursing home more than double in days
A Columbia nursing home now tops the lists of infections of the coronavirus after the known cases more than doubled in two days. The 88-bed Midland Health and Rehabilitation Center in Columbia has the highest amount of COVID-19 cases among nursing homes in the state with 73 infections among staff and residents, according to statistics from the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

April 24

Experts cautiously optimistic the coronavirus curve is flattening in SC
South Carolina’s health department predicts weekly coronavirus cases will continue to drop in late April and early May, suggesting  the virus’ spread may have turned a corner in the Palmetto State or, at least, that the disease curve appears to be flattening. The Department of Health and Environmental Control reported 1,059 new coronavirus virus cases April 12-18.

April 23

Coronavirus death toll in SC reaches 150. Case counts continue to grow
Ten additional people have died after contracting the coronavirus, and 161 more were diagnosed with the virus, announced S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control officials Thursday. That brings the statewide death toll to 150 and the number of cases to 4,917.

April 21

SC coronavirus cases top 4,600 Tuesday, death count grows by 11
An additional 172 South Carolinians have contacted the coronavirus, bringing the statewide number to 4,608, state health officials said Tuesday. Eleven additional death were also announced by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, raising the death count to 135.

April 20

SC sees 64 new coronavirus cases, the lowest this month
South Carolina health officials counted 64 new cases of the coronavirus Monday, bringing the statewide total of identified patients to 4,439. Monday’s case count is lower than every other day in April so far. More than 100 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified each day this month.

April 18

SC health officials announce 165 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths
South Carolina health officials on Saturday announced 165 new cases of the coronavirus, as well as three additional deaths. Two of the deaths involved elderly individuals in Horry County who had underlying health conditions, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control said in a release.

April 16

SC health experts say the peak of coronavirus is a few weeks away
As coronavirus cases in South Carolina continue to climb week over week, experts at the state health department predict weekly totals will keep growing until at least May.

April 15

SC officials announce 105 new coronavirus cases and 10 deaths
South Carolina had its lowest single-day increase in coronavirus cases since March 23 on Wednesday, but recorded back-to-back days of double-digit deaths, according to data released by state public health officials. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control announced 105 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 deaths, for a total of 3,656 cases and 107 deaths so far.

April 14

SC sees 115 new cases of coronavirus, 10 more deaths
Coronavirus cases in South Carolina grew to 3,553 Tuesday after state health officials announced they had identified 115 new patients across the state. Additionally, 10 more people have died after contracting COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 97, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

April 13

SC coronavirus cases climb to 3,439; death toll rises to 87
In a sobering reminder of just how deadly COVID-19 can be, state public health officials announced Monday that five additional South Carolinians have died after contracting the coronavirus, bringing the total death toll in the state to 87. State health officials also announced Monday another 127 people have tested positive for the novel virus, taking the state’s new case count to 3,439.

April 12

Coronavirus patients are scared, dying alone in SC, hospital nurses say
Lauren Killgore can’t shake the image of desperately ill patients, lying in the intensive care unit of a Columbia hospital, suffering from a disease that was slowly suffocating them.

April 11

SC coronavirus cases surpass 3,200; eight new deaths also reported by officials
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in South Carolina continues to rise with an additional 144 positive tests and eight new deaths announced Saturday by state health officials.

April 8

SC see highest single day death toll from coronavirus, 139 more cases
South Carolina now has 2,552 coronavirus cases after state health officials announced Wednesday that they had identified 139 additional ones. The state has also seen 12 additional deaths, bringing the total to 63, announced officials with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. It was the largest single-day increase in deaths yet.

April 7

Identified coronavirus cases in SC reaches 2,417. Three more deaths reported Tuesday
South Carolina health officials identified 187 new cases of the coronavirus Tuesday, bringing the statewide total of known cases to 2,417. Three additional South Carolinians have died as a result of the disease, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. All three were 60 years old or older, and had underlying health conditions. Two were from Lexington County and one was from Greenville County, according to DHEC.

York County daily coronavirus cases spike by 13 as total tops 100, health officials say
The number of coronavirus cases in York County has now topped 100, and cases in Lancaster County near 50, South Carolina health officials announced Tuesday.

April 6

SC sees 183 new coronavirus cases Monday, four new deaths announced
The number of South Carolina coronavirus cases increased by 183 Monday, bringing the statewide total to 2,232, according to S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control officials. DHEC did not release new county-by-county coronavirus case numbers Monday but warned that the numbers are rising quickly statewide. A peak in S.C. coronavirus deaths is anticipated in early May, according to DHEC.

April 3

SC coronavirus cases soar to 1,700 with 147 new cases reported Friday, 3 more deaths
There are now 1,700 known cases of COVID-19 in the state, including cases in every county. At least 34 deaths in the state have been attributed to coronavirus, including three deaths newly reported Friday. “Nearly every day we learn of a new case that is the result of an unexpected encounter or an unknown source,” said Linda Bell, the state epidemiologist with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. “Each new case represents a real person.”

SC braces for surge of coronavirus cases: ‘The tsunami is well on its way.’

March 31

Coronavirus cases continue to rise with spike of new positive tests in SC’s Lowcountry  
At least 22 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in South Carolina’s Lowcountry Tuesday morning. Most of the cases came from positive tests at a Charleston hospital, that recorded its largest single-day increase in COVID-19 patients since it began testing.

March 30

151 new cases and two deaths reported, bringing SC total to 925 cases, 18 deaths
State officials announced 151 new cases of the coronavirus Monday, along with two new deaths. South Carolina now has 925 confirmed total cases in 41 counties and 18 reported deaths. Of the deaths, both patients were elderly and had underlying health conditions. One patient was from Beaufort County, while the other lived in Anderson County.

Richland County has 40 new coronavirus cases confirmed in one day, total of 135
Confirmed cases of coronavirus in Richland County, the seat of South Carolina’s capital, jumped by 40 in one day. Richland County now has 135 known cases of COVID-19, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. There are now more known infections in Richland County than any other county in the state. This is a 42 percent jump from the number of infections that were confirmed in the county a day earlier and is by far the most new cases reported in South Carolina on Monday.

March 29

Daily death toll to rise as SC closes in on its coronavirus peak, projection shows
The coronavirus is expected to hit its peak in South Carolina in little more than a month, a projection shows. The number of patients testing positive for COVID-19, and coronavirus related deaths, are expected to rise until spiking on May 2, according to a study by healthdata.org. But in the days following that peak, the number of new cases — and deaths — reported across South Carolina is expected to reduce on a regular basis, according to the data.

March 28

SC announces more than 100 new coronavirus cases as testing backlog starts to clear
More than 100 new cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus were announced by South Carolina health officials on Saturday, as well as two more deaths related to the virus. Saturday’s total of 121 new positives is the biggest single-day increase the state has seen since the first cases of COVID-19 were reported March 2. There have now been 660 reported positive tests and 15 deaths.

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.