• Coronavirus Updates

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    Coronavirus updates

    UPDATED at 5 p.m. on Sept. 10, 2020

    Gov. Henry McMaster today announced plans for how he would like to see hundreds of millions of dollars distributed as part of the second phase of the CARES Act.

    During the Thursday afternoon press conference, McMaster said he wanted to talk about “money and a vaccine,” in relation to Covid-19. Under phase two of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, McMaster said he is pushing for $450 million to replenish the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

    Small businesses that did not get federal funds from the first phase might be eligible for a one-time $5,000 grant, he said, as part of a $30 million allocation he will recommend to the General Assembly.

    He’s proposing $15 million be directed to help non-profits and $50 million for schools that have undertaken five day a week in-person instruction.

    McMaster said he wants to “help those schools that have opened for face-to-face education” with those costs and to offset Covid-19 related costs. Protective equipment will be provided if it is needed for those schools, he said.

    In South Carolina, the economy is “returning to normal,” he said, because people are returning to their places of work and he thinks schools should be no different. McMaster said he is proposing $93 million go to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Medical University of South Carolina for continued testing and contact tracing.

    State agencies, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, technical colleges and universities would get $75 million under McMaster’s proposal. Counties, municipalities, first responders and law enforcement agencies would get $50 million.

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control are “rapidly preparing” to distribute vaccines this fall, he said, which is expected to be a massive coordinated effort.

    Acting DHEC Director Marshall Taylor said there’s no confirmed date for three vaccines that are currently undergoing testing and trials.

    He urged South Carolinians to remain vigilant and continue to employ social distancing and to keep wearing masks.

    Front line medical personnel, those who provide care for seniors, nursing home residents and critical infrastructure employees would likely get the vaccine first.


    UPDATED at 5 p.m. on July 29, 2020

    Gov. Henry McMaster today called on local leadership to help stop the spread of coronavirus and specifically asked city and county governments to enforce mask wearing measures and support social distancing guidelines.

    The City of Sumter has an ordinance in place to require facial coverings to be worn in retail and food service establishments and during Tuesday night’s County Council meeting, Council members approved a resolution urging Sumter County residents to wear face coverings or masks.

    “Local leadership is the answer,” McMaster said at today’s press conference, as he urged local ordinances to require masks, support social distancing measures and enforce strict hygiene practices.

    Face coverings must be worn in restaurants and all state government buildings beginning Monday, Aug. 3, he said, as he once again “strongly recommend everyone in South Carolina wear a mask in public” or in enclosed settings where folks are unable to enact social distancing measures.

    He also said previously recommended guidelines for restaurants and other establishments will be mandatory on Aug. 3, such as having patrons not exceed 50 percent of the Certificate of Occupancy, tables being spaced at least six feet apart and having no more than 8 people at a table unless they’re family members.

    Standing or congregating in the bar area will also be prohibited, he said, effective next Monday.

    A variety of gathering places, such as auditoriums, parks, gymnasiums, festivals, concerts and the like will not be allowed to have more than 250 attendees or exceed 50 percent of their respective Certificates of Occupancy. Masks or face coverings will be required along with social distancing and strict hygiene practices, he said.

    Like bars and restaurants, these venues will not be allowed to sell alcohol after 11 p.m.

    The penalty for non-compliance is a misdemeanor and will be not more than $100, he said, and not more than 40 days in jail. These measures give South Carolina “the best chance” to slow down the spread of the virus while keeping the economy moving, he said.

    “We will get through this,” he said.

    Dr. Linda Bell, the state’s epidemiologist, announced 1,666 new cases and 48 new deaths from Covid-19, bringing the total to 85,423 cases and 1,551 deaths.

    Every day in July except one saw at least 1,000 new cases, she said, as she echoed the call to wear a mask in public, stay 6 feet away from others and practice good hygiene.

    If South Carolinians adopt these practices, she said the state “can be in a different place” in four to six weeks.

    McMaster also ticked off a list of many corporate entities now requiring customers and clientele to wear masks, such as Walmart, McDonald’s and Starbucks.


    UPDATED at 12 p.m. on July 10, 2020

    Starting tomorrow night, bars and restaurants can’t serve alcohol after 11 p.m., Gov. Henry McMaster announced today, in an effort to stop the alarming rise in the number of coronavirus cases in South Carolina.


    McMaster announced the executive order, known as the “Last Call,” in a press conference accompanied by state officials.


    Dr. Joan Duwve, Director of Public Health for the S.C. Department of Environmental Control, provided some sobering facts about recent numbers. Of the 50,458 confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Carolina, 11,090 cases are in the 21 to 30-year-old age group, which accounts for 22 percent of all confirmed cases.


    Fifteen percent of our cases are in the 20-years-old and under age group, she said, and since June 1, 2020, the state has seen a 436.5 percent increase in newly reported Covid-19 cases in the 21-30 age group.


    In the past two weeks, the jump in numbers accounts for 42 percent of all reported cases, she said.


    “Please think about that. Nearly half of the Covid-19 cases in the state of South Carolina have occurred in the past two weeks and think about what those numbers are going to look like two weeks from now,” she said, if folks continue to not wear masks and employ social distancing.


    McMaster implored South Carolinians to wear a mask, to continue social distancing and to wash your hands regularly to prevent further spread of the deadly virus.


    Many of the young people in South Carolina and around the country “seem not to be taking the virus as seriously as they should,” he said.


    The damage caused by the coronavirus and the disease it causes, Covid-19, inflicts economic, mental, emotional and educational damage, he said.


    “And they’re all tied up together,” he said, as “enormous damage” is being done despite our best efforts.


    Children have lost valuable learning time and social skills and many parents can’t work because they’re watching their children.


    “And ladies and gentlemen, South Carolina’s business is business,” he said, and if we can’t work, “we cannot survive as a prosperous state.”


    The unintended consequences of transmission are younger people spreading the virus to the elderly, who are at greater risk from the effects, he said.


    “So we are saying, emphatically, it’s time for our younger adults to behave like mature adults,” he said, as he once again urged everyone to wear a mask, keep your distance from others and wash your hands.


    “So again: Wear your mask, wear your mask, wear your mask,” he said, and if we follow the rules, “we’ll get through it.”


    About 8,000 establishments will be affected, he said, and the order does not apply to convenience stores or grocery stores.


    “This is a mandate. This is an order the state can enforce,” he said, and once it goes into effect, it remains so until further notice.


    “We can enforce this and we will,” he said.


    Dr. Duwve said we need to work together to get the escalating numbers under control.


    Indoor social activities and group settings put us at greater risk, she said.


    “We know wearing a face mask and maintaining social distancing are effective tools in preventing this deadly virus,” she said.


    She and others understand that “everyone is tired” and wants to get back to normal, but she encouraged folks to keep their distance from others, and to stay home or spend time outdoors away from others.


    If we don’t avoid risky social activities, the consequences will be dire, she said.


    “We will see more of our friends, family members and loved ones become ill, hospitalized, ventilated and die,” she said.

    All Sumter County Government Offices remain closed to the public until further notice.

    Healthcare experts recommend staying home to stop the spread of coronavirus and mitigate the effects of Covid-19. We don’t want our healthcare professionals, facilities, and our first responders overburdened.

    Everyone is urged to wear a mask or cloth face covering and continuing to practice strict social distancing standards of staying 6 feet apart from others. Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly. Don’t touch your face.

    Staying home is the best thing you can do to keep your family and our community healthy.

    Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital is offering free virtual visits – a quick online option for common conditions. https://www.prismahealth.org/virtual-visit/

    MUSC Health is providing free telehealth screening - https://campaigns.muschealth.org/virtual-care/index.html

    The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has set up a care line: 1-888-472-3432 and staffers are answering calls from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.

    As events are cancelled or postponed, we will keep you up to date and informed about how the coronavirus is affecting our community.