South Carolina Capitol
Mar 20, 2020

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

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

On March 13, Gov. Henry McMaster (R) declared a state of emergency in South Carolina as the state experienced increased COVID-19 confirmations. By Sunday, the governor announced statewide school closures, as the number of cases in the state increased. The governor closed restaurant dining rooms statewide on March 17, and asked people to social distance and avoid unnecessary outings.

The Senate met on March 17 to approve the COVID-19 response funding requested by the governor, which the House returned to Columbia on Thursday to adopt. The governor signed the bill immediately, making $45 million available to the state’s agencies for COVID-19 response.

On March 19, the governor sent nonessential state employees home beginning Friday, including the state’s college and technical college employees, as the state reported 81 total confirmed cases across 17 counties. The governor also suspended state procurement procedures and certificate of need regulations as necessary to expedite meeting the healthcare needs of the state. He also asked hospitals and healthcare facilities to restrict visitations, except for end of life situations, and to decrease the use of high demand medical supplies.  

The House adjourned to the call of the chair this week, with plans to reevaluate the situation in two weeks. Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Darlington) anticipates being out of session longer than two weeks. He also noted that the business of the state must be done and pledged to finish the work, specifically the state’s unfinished budget. The Senate will not meet next week, however Senate President Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee) reserved the right to call the Senate back into session to deal with the state’s ongoing coronavirus response if necessary. Senate committee chairmen were advised to conduct business in accordance with CDC recommendations if hearings are critical to the business of the state.

Every seat in the legislature is up for election this fall, and filing for November’s general election remains unaffected by the state of emergency declaration. Filing opened on March 16 and will close on March 30.