Gov. Henry McMaster

S.C. Governor Henry McMaster said "nothing is off the table" in terms of what is being discussed to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state. 

S.C. DHEC officials announced there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 17 counties with 81 cases in the state. Their labs have performed 906 tests and 833 of them have been negative, they said.

No changes have been made to the March 31 date for ending school closures, but Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said announcements regarding schools should come next week sometime.

McMaster gave executive orders directing state agencies and public universities to determine non-essential employees who should stay home from work, effective Friday, March 20. Public university presidents should determine which employees are essential to give students the ability to finish their semester online, he said. 

The approval period for unemployment benefits has been expedited, he said. 

"We're trying to speed it up as fast as we can," McMaster said. 

The governor also wanted a loud and clear message to go out that "lawlessness will not be tolerated," noting that court closings and school closings means more officers are available to help with crime. 

"Law enforcement is on the job as strong or stronger, to see to it no one is harmed," he said. 

He also asked for all hospitals and overnight medical facilities to restrict visitors to all patients except in end-of-life situations. 

As for news about COVID-19 developments, he requested that residents follow information only given by official sources. 

"Misinformation is going around and it's scaring people," McMaster said. 

Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said that they are "not to that point yet" in terms of closing schools through the end of the school year, as the state of Kansas recently did.

"We have not made that decision at this point," Spearman said. 

She said that as of right now, the March 31 date stands as the end of school closures, but announcements will be made about schools next week. 

"We're working with instructors and superintendents daily, making preparations for a longer time," Spearman said. 

She encouraged parents not to stress about the work their children needed to do while out of the school building. 

"Do the best you can with your students and don't feel you have to put undue stress on yourself and your children to get materials in," she said. "We realize we may be in this for the long haul and we promise your educators are going to do everything we possibly can to give flexibility."

High school seniors are priority, she said, to make sure they will get the credits and new learning they need to graduate. 

"We are certainly working on that and hope to announce next week," Spearman said. 

McMaster referenced a recent conference call with President Donald Trump, and said that the "federal government is moving heaven and earth to see that the supplies we need will be provided."

"We've been through things before, we'll go through them again," McMaster said. "If you don't need to go out, then don't. Simple rules will keep us from getting sick."

As for closing S.C. beaches, McMaster said not yet, but they are watching that option carefully.

"We don't want to go too far too soon, but we're intent on staying ahead of this virus," McMaster said. 

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(1) comment

missprint

I have elective surgery (hip replacement) scheduled in 3 weeks at CMC in Conway. Have been advised that there is now a virus case there. Are elective surgeries being discouraged there now?

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