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The latest developments on COVID-19: All schools, bars and dine-in restaurants closed; 539 cases, 13 deaths

March 27, 2020 - Posted in News by Gavin Jackson

Gov. Henry McMaster Declares State of Emergency, Closes All Schools Through April, Bars and Dine-in Restuarants

Quick Facts:

--DHECis reports 539 cases in 39 counties: Charleston 92, Kershaw 70, Richland 65, Greenville 51, Beaufort 35, Lexington 25, Horry 24, Anderson 20, York 18, Orangeburg 12, Florence 11, Sumter 10, Spartanburg 16, Berkeley 10, Darlington 8, Lancaster 8, Pickens 7, Clarendon 6, Abbeville 4, Aiken 4, Dorchester 4, Fairfield 4, Chesterfield 3, Georgetown 3, Jasper 3, Greenwood 2, Lee 2, Oconee 2, Calhoun 1, Chester 1, Colleton 1, Dillon 1, Edgefield 1, Marion 1, Marlboro 1, Newberry 1, Saluda 1, Union 1, Williamsburg 1. Map

-13 deaths have been reported. Two patients were elderly and from Kershaw County who had underlying health conditions. One patient was elderly from Richland County who had underlying health conditions. One patient was elderly from Greenville County who had underlying health conditions. Two Sumter County patients were a elderly with underlying health conditions. Three Florence County patients were elderly with underlying health conditions. The second patient was an elderly person from Horry County with no underlying health conditions. One patient was from Lexington County and a resident of Lexington Medical Center Extended Care Skilled Nursing Facility. One was from Charleston County and was a resident of Harmony Assisted Living Facility. One patient was an elderly person from Clarendon County, who had underlying health conditions. 

-All South Carolina K-12 schools are closed through April.

-Testing: SCDHEC’s Public Health Laboratory has enough supplies from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to test 2,000 samples. The lab has a routine capacity to test 80-100 specimens per day and the ability to double or triple that number as needed. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved some private labs in South Carolina to also conduct CDC-approved testing for COVID-19.

-State response and what you can do, from State Epidemeologist Dr. Linda Bell: “While we anticipate the number of cases in the U.S. and here at home to grow, the majority of people will likely not develop serious illness,” Bell said. “When you hear about the first cases, or growing cases, in your community, we encourage the public to maintain their daily routines with a focus on good hygiene, including routinely washing your hands and covering your mouth when you cough. Individuals with signs of illness are asked to take seriously the recommendation to stay home from school and work and not attend public gatherings.”

-Healthcare and insurance information 

-Resources on how to talk to children about COVID-19

-Resources for businesses

-Small business loan information

The Latest:

March 27

4:30 p.m.

-DHEC announces 86 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths in South Carolina. Charleston 92, Kershaw 70, Richland 65, Greenville 51, Beaufort 35, Lexington 25, Horry 24, Anderson 20, York 18, Orangeburg 12, Florence 11, Sumter 10, Spartanburg 16, Berkeley 10, Darlington 8, Lancaster 8, Pickens 7, Clarendon 6, Abbeville 4, Aiken 4, Dorchester 4, Fairfield 4, Chesterfield 3, Georgetown 3, Jasper 3, Greenwood 2, Lee 2, Oconee 2, Calhoun 1, Chester 1, Colleton 1, Dillon 1, Edgefield 1, Marion 1, Marlboro 1, Newberry 1, Saluda 1, Union 1, Williamsburg 1.

In his press conference, Gov. Henry McMaster announced a new executive order that would require visitors from "hot spots" Conneticut, New Jersey, New York and the City of New Orleans to quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in South Carolina. 

March 26

4:30 p.m.

Gov. Henry McMaster says there is no shelter in place order for South Carolina at this time. So far only the City of Charleston and the City of Columbia have passed such ordinances. 

DHEC  is investigating 32 additional cases of COVID-19. This brings the total number statewide to 456 cases in 39 counties. Kershaw 64, Charleston 60, Richland 60, Greenville 51, Beaufort 29, Anderson 21, Horry 21, Lexington 20, York 19, Orangeburg 11, Sumter 10, Spartanburg 9, Berkeley 8, Darlington 8, Lancaster 7, Pickens 6, Clarendon 5, Florence 5, Abbeville 4, Aiken 4, Dorchester 4, Fairfield 4, Chesterfield 3, Georgetown 3, Jasper 3, Greenwood 2, Lee 2, Oconee 2, Calhoun 1, Chester 1, Colleton 1, Dillon 1, Edgefield 1, Marion 1, Marlboro 1, Newberry 1, Saluda 1, Union 1, Williamsburg 1.

DHEC says they have a backlog of 1,600 tests.

8:54 a.m.

Dept. of Employment and Workforce announced that South Carolina unemployment insurance claims for the week ending March 21 were 31,054--a 1600% increase from the week before.

8:30 a.m.

The U.S. Dept. of Labor announced unemployment claims surged to 3.3 million, a record. DOL said, "States continued to cite services industries broadly, particularly accommodation and food services. Additional industries heavily cited for the increases included the health care and social assistance, arts, entertainment and recreation, transportation and warehousing, and manufacturing industries." 

March 25

3:52 p.m.

DHEC is investigating 82 additional cases of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. This brings the total number statewide to 424 cases in 39 counties: Kershaw 63, Richland 59, Charleston 52, Greenville 50, Beaufort 26, Horry 20, Anderson 19, Lexington 18, York 18, Sumter 10, Orangeburg 9, Spartanburg 9, Darlington 8, Lancaster 6, Pickens 6, Berkeley 5, Clarendon 5, Florence 5 , Dorchester 4, Abbeville 3, Chesterfield 3, Fairfield 3, Aiken 2 , Georgetown 2, Greenwood 2, Jasper 2, Lee 2, Oconee 2, Calhoun 1, Chester 1, Colleton 1, Dillon 1, Edgefield 1, Marion 1, Marlboro 1, Newberry 1, Saluda 1, Union 1, Williamsburg 1.

DHEC also released projections that find there could be 2,657 cumulative cases by April 2 and 8,053 cases by May 2, however, projected data is estimated and may change significantly due to various factors. More information on those projections and a breakdown of people who have been affected by the virus can be found here. 

1:52 p.m.

Gov. Henry McMaster tweeted, "Today I am requesting all out of state visitors to South Carolina planning a stay of two or more nights self quarantine for two weeks immediately upon arrival." 

March 24

7:33 p.m.

-DHEC announces two COVID-19 related deaths. One patient was an elderly person from Florence County who had underlying health conditions. The second patient was an elderly person from Horry County with no underlying health conditions. After further investigation, an individual who passed away and was reported as residing in Kershaw County has been determined to have a Sumter County residence.

4:13 p.m.

-DHEC is investigating 44 additional cases of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. This brings the total number statewide to 342 cases in 36 counties. 

The latest cases as of Monday: Kershaw 58, Richland 45, Greenville 39, Charleston 36, Beaufort 22, Horry 19, Lexington 19, Anderson 16, York 11, Darlington 8, Orangeburg 8, Sumter 8, Lancaster 7, Clarendon 5, Florence 5, Berkeley 4, Spartanburg 4, Dorchester 3, Aiken 2, Fairfield 2, Georgetown 2, Greenwood 2, Jasper 2, Lee 2, Oconee 2, Abbeville 1, Calhoun 1, Chester 1, Chesterfield 1, Colleton 1, Dillon 1, Edgefield 1, Marlboro 1, Newberry 1, Pickens 1, Saluda 1.

3:01 p.m.

-Gov. Henry McMaster and State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announce schools will remain closed through April. “At this time, students, parents, and families should plan for South Carolina’s schools to remain closed through the month of April. Our dedicated teachers and school administrators have done a tremendous job in making it possible for our students to learn at home. We understand that the prospect of schools remaining closed for an extended period of time places stress and strain on parents and children. Rest assured, if there is any way to safely open our schools earlier, we will do that, but schools must remain closed to protect the health and safety of South Carolinians.”

March 23

4:30 p.m. 

DHEC reports 298 cases of COVID-19 in 34 South Carolina counties. The latest cases as of Monday from Sunday: Kershaw 54 (+10), Richland 33 (+14), Greenville 31 (+12), Charleston 30 (+17), Beaufort 21 (+7), Lexington 17 (+5), Horry 16 (+5), Anderson 15 (+5), Orangeburg 8 (+5), Darlington 7 (+2),  Lancaster 7 (+2), York 7 (+3), Berkeley 4 (+2), Clarendon 4 (+3), Sumter 4 (+1), Florence 3 (+2), Greenwood 3, Spartanburg 3 (+1), Dorchester 2 (+1), Fairfield 2 (+1), Georgetown 2 (New), Lee 2 (+1), Abbeville 1, Aiken 1, Calhoun 1, Chester 1 (New), Edgefield 1, Marlboro 1, Newberry 1, Oconee 1 (New), Saluda 1.

Gov. Henry McMaster said he has issued an executive order that gives law enforcement officials around the state to break up gatherings of more than three people. This measure is at the discretion of law enforcement and is not meant to apply to families going for a walk, lawful business operation or inside of people's homes. It is a tool law enforcement can use to break up crowds in places like the beach or parks in an effort to limit the potential spread of COVID-19. 

There is no shelter in place order.

3:22 p.m.

DHEC reports two additional deaths.  One patient was an elderly person from Clarendon County, who had underlying health conditions. The second patient was an elderly person from Kershaw County who also had underlying health conditions. Daily prevention measures include disease prevention measures and following recommendations for social distancing to protect the health and safety of all South Carolinians. This includes: social distancing when all possible, staying home if you’re sick and contacting your health care provider, washing your hands often, covering your cough, regularly and effective cleaning commonly touched surfaces.

March 22

3:33 p.m.

-DHEC reports 195 cases of COVID-19 in 33 South Carolina counties. The latest cases as of Sunday from Saturday: Kershaw 44 (+8), Richland 29 (+7), Greenville 19 (+7), Beaufort 14 (+6), Charleston 13 (+8), Lexington 12 (+4), Horry 11 (+3), Anderson 10 (+4), Darlington 5 (+4),  Lancaster 5 (+2), York 4 (+3), Greenwood 3, Orangeburg 3 (+1), Sumter 3 (+2), Berkeley 2 (New), Spartanburg 2 (+1), Abbeville 1, Aiken 1, Calhoun 1, Clarendon 1 , Dorchester 1, Edgefield 1 (New), Fairfield 1, Florence 1, Lee 1, Marlboro 1 (New), Newberry 1 (New), Saluda 1. Map

March 21

4:36 p.m.

DHEC reports 173 cases in 30 counties: (Increase from Friday) Kershaw 43 (+7), Richland 27 (+5), Greenville 17 (+5), Beaufort 13 (+5), Lexington 12 (+4), Anderson 10 (+4), Charleston 9 (+5), Horry 9 (+1), Greenwood 3 (New) Lancaster 3, Orangeburg 3 (+1), Sumter 3 (+2), Darlington 2 (+1), Spartanburg 2 (+1), York 2 (+1), Abbeville 1, Aiken 1, Berkeley 1, Calhoun 1, Clarendon 1, Colleton 1 (New), Dillon 1 (New), Dorchester 1, Edgefield 1, Fairfield 1, Florence 1, Saluda 1.

1,466 tests have been conducted at the state lab.

3:32 p.m.

Gov. Henry McMaster issues an Executive Order that "directs the Department of Revenue to waive additional regulations in order to allow restaurants to include sealed containers of beer and wine for curbside pickup or “to-go” orders only.”

No shelter in place order is expected according to McMaster.

March 20

7:02 p.m.

DHEC has reported the state’s second and third deaths related to COVID-19 novel coronavirus. This brings the state’s total number of deaths to three.

One patient was an elderly person with an underlying health condition from Florence County. The other patient was an elderly person with an underlying health condition from Charleston County and was a resident of Harmony Assisted Living Facility. DHEC is working with the facility to identify all contacts and is providing guidance about infection control measures to prevent spread.

"Sadly, our state has suffered the loss of two of our own,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist. “In the case of both deaths, the patients had recently been reported to have been diagnosed with COVID-19. On behalf of all South Carolinians, we want to express our deepest sympathy for the families and loved ones of these two individuals.”

4:04 p.m.

DHEC announces 45 new cases totaling 124 in 25 counties. The latest cases as of Friday from Thursday: Kershaw 36 (+7), Richland 22 (+14), Greenville 12 (+5), Beaufort 8 (+3), Horry 8 (+2), Lexington 8 (+3), Anderson 6 (+3), Charleston 5,  Lancaster 3 (+1), Orangeburg 2 (New), Abbeville 1, Aiken 1 (New), Calhoun 1, Clarendon 1 (New), Darlington 1 (New), Dorchester 1, Fairfield 1, Florence 1 (New), Lee 1, Pickens 1 (New), Saluda 1, Spartanburg 1, Sumter 1 (New), York 1. 

2:16 p.m.

Gov. Henry McMaster tweeted, "A state of emergency exists in South Carolina to prevent the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus. To save lives, I have directed SLED and local law enforcement to disperse crowds gathered on our state’s beaches. Coastal residents can responsibly maintain social distance while enjoying our state’s beaches."

11:33 a.m.

Watch/read White House coronavirus taskforce press conference. 

8:40 a.m.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved Governor Henry McMaster’s request for the agency to offer South Carolina’s small businesses with disaster assistance. Governor McMaster requested the disaster declaration in a March 17 letter to SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza.

The disaster declaration means that South Carolina’s small businesses that have suffered substantial economic injury as a result of the COVID-19 virus may qualify for low-interest federal disaster loans. All 46 counties are included in the disaster declaration.

March 19

4:50 p.m.

Current cases by county on Thursday from Wednesday: Kershaw 29 (+4), Richland 8 (+4), Beaufort 7 (+1), Greenville 7 (+4), Horry 6 (+1), Charleston 5 (+1), Lexington 5 (+1), Anderson 3 (+1), Lancaster 3 (+1), Abbeville 1 (New), Calhoun 1, Dorchester 1 (New), Fairfield 1, Lee 1, Saluda 1 (New), Spartanburg 1, York 1.

Gov. Henry McMaster issues an executive order that orders: Each public university, college, and technical college president will, at their discretion, determine essential employees & allow non-essential employees to work from home, and in all cases, to allow students to continue coursework online for the semester, Department of Employment and Workforce to waive regulations to allow unemployment claims to be expedited by at least one week, unemployment insurance payments are suspended for employers until June 1, procurement regulations are temporarily suspended to allow state agencies to rapidly acquire resources to combat the COVID-19 virus, DHEC will temporarily suspend enforcement of Certificate of Need regulations necessary to expedite treatment for the virus

3:30 p.m.

The U.S. Treasury and Internal Revenue Service issue guidance on delaying tax payments until July 15 2020. You still need to file a return or request a filing extension by April 15. No additional filing is necessary for the payment extension. More info here.

8:53 a.m.

S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Beatty extends previous order on evictions by pushing date to May 1, at the earliest and restricts other eviction matters. He also issued a statewide moratorium on foreclosure hearings and foreclosure sales.

March 18

4:12 p.m.

DHEC is investigating 13 additional cases of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. This brings the total number statewide to 60 cases in 14 counties.

DHEC reports that there were 3 new cases from Kershaw County, 3 new cases from Richland County, 2 new cases from Beaufort County, 1 new case from Charleston County, 1 new case from Greenville County, 1 new case from Horry County, 1 new case from Lee County (its first), 1 new case from Lexington County. To date there have been 583 tests by the DHEC lab and 60 positive cases. Other labs are also testing in the state. 

Individuals with signs of illness are asked to stay at home and not attend public gatherings. DHEC encourages the public to follow recommendations for social distancing to protect the health and safety of all South Carolinians. This includes:

washing your hands frequently,
covering your cough,
staying home when you’re sick and not attend public gatherings, and
appropriately disposing tissues and other items that you've sneezed or coughed into.

12:15 p.m.

Watch President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force briefing

March 17

4:30 p.m.

During a press conference, Gov. Henry McMaster announced an executive order that closes all bars and restaurants (dine-in only) begining Wednesday, March 18. His order also prohibits organized events of 50 or more people to be held in any state, county, city or publicly owned facility. The South Carolina National Guard is planning with hospitals to build additional capacitiy should hospitals need it during a surge. DHEC is waiving regulations so hospitals can use medical and nursing school students. 

South Carolina Dept. of Revenue is pushing back the tax deadline to June 1.

After outlining what his executive order does McMaster then made several requests calling for the halting of elective and non-threatening procedures for 72 hours, asking insurance companies to cover all the costs associated with coronavirus doctor’s visits, which usually include a battery of tests before testing for COVID-19 which is covered, McMaster asked folks to limit purchases of paper products and suggested a designated time for older shoppers to go to stores to limit exposure to the virus from others and also pushed private employers to let employees to work from home.

12:17 p.m.

South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Beatty orders that "all evictions currently ordered and scheduled statewide from March 17, 2020, through March 31, 2020, shall be rescheduled for a date not earlier than May 1, 2020.  However, case-by-case exceptions for evictions may be made for matters that involve essential services and/or harm to person or property."

11:40 a.m.

Watch: White House Coronavirus Task Force

March 16

5:20 p.m.

South Carolina Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office says General Fund Revenues through February are $191.3m above expectations, but most of that excess is attributable to differences in the timing of receipts. However, an excess above the forecast is still anticipated.

4:00 p.m.

The Associated Press reports that the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 2,997 points, or 12.9%, and the S&P 500 had its worst loss since the Black Monday crash of 1987. The Dow drop surpasses Thursday's drop of 10%.

3:31 p.m.

SCDHEC reports five new COVID-19 cases in South Carolina.

DHEC reports that one new case is from Lexington County and is an elderly person who was a close contact to a previously reported case. This person remains in isolation at a healthcare facility.
Four new cases are from Kershaw County. Three of the cases are middle-aged individuals who are known contacts to a previously reported case and are currently isolated at home. One case is an elderly person. Investigation is underway and further details are not currently available.

People with symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath should call their healthcare provider. If an individual doesn’t have a primary care physician, several healthcare systems are providing telehealth services so residents may be evaluated by a healthcare provider without having to leave their homes. If it’s determined an individual should be tested, they will be instructed where to go to be tested. Individuals with minor illness are advised not to go to emergency departments.

“We know that many South Carolinians are concerned about what impact this virus may have on themselves, their loved ones, and our state,” Brannon Traxler, DHEC physician consultant, said. “This is a rapidly evolving public health event, and DHEC takes every new infectious disease seriously. The state’s first reported death is an example of the importance of taking precautions to protect those at higher risk, like the elderly and people with serious underlying health conditions.”

3:20 p.m.

Watch: White House coronavirus task force holds press conference.

2:48 p.m.

South Carolina Supreme Court Justice Donald Beatty has posponed all jury trials in South Carolina.

Beatty's order also states that non-jury trials and other hearings may continue at the trial judge’s discretion, but only attorneys, their clients, and necessary witnesses will be allowed to appear. However, the Family Courts shall restrict their proceedings to emergency matters referenced in the Order dated March 16, 2020.  All roll calls and any other large gatherings are cancelled until further notice.

If you deem it necessary to curtail operations beyond the scope of this memorandum, courthouses should remain available for the following critical functions:

Acceptance of filings and payments
Emergency hearings
Transmission of necessary information to SLED and/or NCIC, as well as the County Statistics Portal information.

Court dates may be rescheduled as is necessary and prudent. Coordinate necessary changes in schedules with your Chief Judges for Administrative Purposes.
To the extent possible and circumstances warrant, hearings that can be held by video may be held remotely. Telephonic hearings may be held remotely as a last resort.
To the extent possible and circumstances warrant, litigants should be excused from attending routine hearings (e.g. represented defendants at status conferences).
Bench warrants for failure to appear shall not be issued at this time.
If a courthouse temporarily closes, there should be adequate signs posted directing persons to the nearest other alternate location within the county where filings and payments may be made. The court should include this information on its voicemail and its website/social media if possible.

2:30 p.m.

South Carolina Ports Authority CEO Jim Newsome says in a video that "as long as ships are calling we'll be working."

11:39 a.m.

DHEC reports the first COVID-19 death. The patient was from Lexington County and resident of Lexington Medical Center Extended Care Skilled Nursing Facility.

March 15

9:21 p.m.

Sen. Lindsey Graham tweets, "I was just informed by Dr. Moynihan, the head of the House Physicians Office, that my coronavirus test was NEGATIVE. I’m very grateful and like everyone else will follow the best practices to stay negative."

6:05 p.m.

All 13 Richland Library locations will be closed temporarily starting Monday, March 16. 

5:00 p.m.

U.S. coronavirus task force press conference

USA Today: U.S. Federal reserve cuts interest rates to zero. 

4:21 p.m.

In a press conference, Gov. Henry McMaster announces all schools will close for the month of March. 

Details on school closures from S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman:

-The S.C. Dept. of Education obtained a waiver from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to let summer feeding options be used during the closure, including grab and go options. Two meals can be picked up at schools or from buses; it is in talks to equip some 3,000 school buses to deliver wifi to remote areas. SCDE is encouraging school districts to use 6,000 buses to drop off instructional materials along bus routes if they can't pick them up from schools; it is seeking additional licensers so more students can use Virtual SC; it is seeking a waiver from @usedgov to suspend federally required student assessments; and it's working with South Carolina ETV to reschedule ETV programming that is delivered to schools so it can be available at home.

DHEC announces nine new #COVID19 cases:

Three new cases in Kershaw County

One is a middle-aged daycare worker who has no identified source of exposure. This individual’s onset of illness occurred after their last day worked. The case is currently isolated at home.

Two cases are household contacts to a previously reported case. One case is an elderly individual who is hospitalized in isolation. The other case is a middle-aged individual and is currently isolated at home.

Three new cases in Horry County
Two cases are elderly individuals who had known exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19 from another state. The cases are currently isolated at home.

Another case is an elderly individual. Investigation is underway and further details are not currently available.

Two new cases in Anderson County

Two middle-aged individuals who have no identified source of exposure. Both cases are currently hospitalized in isolation.

One new case in Greenville County

The case is a young adult who recently traveled to Spain. The case is currently isolated at home.

“We emphasize the importance of practicing disease prevention measures and following recommendations for social distancing to protect our community as a whole,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist.

Gov. McMaster is encouraging people not to gather in crowds of 100 people or larger. McMaster is not calling for any closures of bars or restaurants. 

"There is no shortage of testing capabilities in the labs in South Carolina," McMaster said. "Currently there are more than adequate supplies to conduct all the tests we need."

The state lab will be resupplied. The Medical University of South Carolina has been approved for testing.

Dozens of local elections have been postoned. A full listing of those can be found here.

 

2:06 p.m.

The U.S. now has more than 3,000 reported cases of coronavirus, according to NBC News tallies.

1:53 p.m.

The Post and Courier reports that Gov. Henry McMaster will announce at his 4 p.m. that all schools in South Carolina will be closed until March 31 due to COVID-19.

11:01 a.m.

Gov. Henry McMaster will hold a 4 p.m. press conference to provide a COVID-19 update. Watch this press conference live on SCETV channels, South Carolina Public Radio stations and on SCETV's YouTube page.

March 14

7:26 p.m.

President Donald Trump tests negative for COVID-19.

6:38 p.m. 

Beginning Monday, March 16 until further notice, Kershaw Family Court will only hear emergency matters to include DSS Emergency Protective Custody, Juvenile Detentions, Bench Warrants and Emergency Petitions for Orders of Protection from Domestic Abuse. 

6:01 p.m.

Gov. Henry McMaster asks the Office of Regulatory Staff , "that all regulated utilities and cooperatives serving the State of South Carolina—including those not currently under the jurisdiction of ORS— do not suspend or disconnect essential services for nonpayment during the current State of Emergency." 

5:18 p.m.  

McMaster directs state agencies and higher education institutions to maximize telecommuting flexibilities to eligible workers within populations that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified as being at higher risk for serious complications from COVID-19 and CDC-identified special populations inclduing older adults; people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease; people with compromised immune systems; and pregnant women.

McMaster has also directed agencies to postpone all non-essential travel. 

4:11 p.m.

SCDHEC announces six new COVID-19 cases in South Carolina bringing the state total up to 19.

According to the agency, three new cases are from Beaufort County. Two of those cases are close contacts of each other and had known exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19 from another state. The other case has no know connection to any other case and recently traveled internationally. All three cases are currently isolated at home.

Two new cases are from Kershaw County who have no identified source of exposure. Both are currently hospitalized and isolated. 

One new case is from Lexington County who is currently hospitalized and isolated. This individual has no known exposure to another case and no recent travel history to an impacted area. The Lexington County case was a resident of Lexington Medical Center Extended Care Skilled Nursing Facility. The source of this patient’s exposure is being investigated. 

“Our top priorities remain preventing the spread of the disease and protecting the public health,” Bell said. “This includes working to control spread and measures that best protect all individuals. We encourage the public to maintain their daily routines of protecting against illness by practicing good hygiene and handwashing, and individuals with signs of illness are asked to take seriously the recommendation to stay home from school and work and not attend public gatherings.”

12:00 p.m.

Horry County declares a state of emergency and moves to OPCON 2 out of "an abundance of caution." The move allows the county to activate its Emergency Operations Plan as necessary. The Emergency Operations Center is not open. County offices remain operational on a normal schedule.

10:14 a.m.

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. The Medical Board can expedite temporary licensure for out-of-state physicians, physician assistants, and respiratory care practitioners within 24 hours. There is no fee for these 90-day temporary licenses.

12:53 a.m.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R.6201 - Families First Coronavirus Response Act by a vote of 363-40. The emergency legislation expands access to free testing, creates $1 billion in food aid and extends sick leave, among other things.

State Reps. Jim Clyburn (D-SC06), Joe Cunningham (D-SC01) and Tom Rice (R-SC07) voted for the measure and Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-SC03), Ralph Norman (R-SC05), William Timmons (R-SC04) and Joe Wilson (R-SC02) voted against the measure. President Donald Trump supports the measure. It needs one additional vote on a technical change on Monday before it heads to the U.S. Senate.

March 13

7:09 p.m.

Trump says top cruise ship companies stopping trips from U.S.

6:00 p.m.

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division upgraded its operating condition from three to OPCON TWO following the activation of the State Emergnecy Management Plan as authorized by Gov. Henry McMaster. The Emergency Operations Center is partially staffed. 

5:30 p.m.

Gov. Henry McMaster declares a state of emergency due to COVID-19

During the same  press conference SCDHEC announced one new case in Kershaw County, a female from Camden who had contact with a known case. She was evaluated at a healthcare facility and is currently isolated at home. DHEC received her positive result from a private lab.

“Although we are not currently seeing widespread transmission in South Carolina, we expect to see more cases and we will continue to monitor CDC guidance and recommendations,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist. “As part of this effort, we are preparing for transition from containment to mitigation."

Other developments included:

-Schools in Kershaw and Lancaster counties (the only two counties that have seen community spread) will close for 14 days. Going forward SCDHEC will consult with the state's Superintendent of Education and local school district leadership to provide guidance on if and when remaining school districts should decide to close schools and for what period of time. 

-Visitation at state and local correctional facilities in all 46 counties shall be suspended immediately
-DHEC shall immediately restrict visitation to nursing homes and assisted living facilities with the exception of end of life situations
-State price gouging laws shall go into effect immediately
-The State Emergency Management Plan shall be activated

5:00 p.m.

Kershaw County initiates its COVID-19 operations plan which reduces several services in the county which has been the hardest hit by the virus. 

The plan includes:

-Kershaw County Court of General Sessions has postponed First Appearances scheduled for March 17 at 9:00 a.m. to April 9 at 9:00 a.m.. Second Appearances scheduled for March 17 at 2:00 p.m. have also been postponed until April 9 at 2:00 p.m.

-All jury trials scheduled at The Kershaw County Courthouse (1121 Broad Street, Camden) for the week of March 30th has been canceled.

Kershaw County Grand Jury will meet March 18 at 9:00 a.m. with an abbreviated docket. Grand jurors are asked to use discretion when considering to attend and recommends jurors stay home if they are sick, at increased risk of severe illnesses from other infectious diseases, or of older age.

-All county offices, landfill, and convenience centers will operate at normal schedule, but with reduced staff.

-All county meetings and events have been cancelled until further notice.

3:47 p.m.

The State Department of Education tweeted that, "SCDE's Office of Health and Nutrition has been granted a waiver from the @USDA that allows summer feeding options to be used during unanticipated school closures. We have also received a waiver for flexibility from the congregate feeding requirement. These waivers will allow communities to provide nutritious meals to students who may not have access to them outside of the school day."

3:36 p.m.

Watch/read: President Donald Trump declares a national emergency for COVID-19

March 12

World Health Organization declares coronavirus a pandemic

6:00 p.m. 

PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff opens the newscast by saying, "It has been a day like few others in modern American life."

5:48 p.m.

The Supreme Court of South Carolina orders that until subsequent order by the Chief Justice, all jury trials at the Richland County Courthouse, located at 1701 Main Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29201, are postponed. Non-jury trials and other hearings may continue to be held, but only attorneys, their clients and necessary witnesses will be allowed to appear. Provisions for emergency hearings shall be made by the respective Chief Judge for Administrative Purposes.

4:56 p.m.

S.C. Dept. of Insurance announces that health insurance costs for COVID-19 testing will be waived. “I am pleased to announce that South Carolina’s health insurance companies are waiving the cost sharing for diagnostic testing to help identify our citizens that have been exposed to the Coronavirus,” said Director of the SCDOI, Ray Farmer.

More information about health insurance and COVID-19 can be found here.

4:08 p.m.

Sen. Lindsey Graham announces he will self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution after a possible exposure to someone with COVID-19.

4:00 p.m.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 2,352.60 points. Its worst day since 1987. 

3:58 p.m

SCDHEC is investigating two new possible cases of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus from Kershaw and Lancaster Counties. 

The case from Lancaster County is a household contact (family member or close friend) of a previous case. He was evaluated at a healthcare facility and is currently isolated at home.
The case from Kershaw County is a Camden man who is currently hospitalized and in isolation.

This brings the total number of presumptive positive cases to six, along with six confirmed cases. 

2:55 p.m.

Gov. McMaster requests the General Assembly pass a joint resolution making $45 million from the 2019-20 Contingency Reserve Fund immediately available to SCDHEC for its coordination of the state’s public health response to the COVID-19 virus.

2:31 p.m.

SCDHEC tweets "The status of #COVID19 in #SouthCarolina does not indicate that cancellation of events or schools is needed at this time. DHEC is constantly monitoring our epidemiological data and consulting with the CDC to stay on top of the situation. If our medical experts and epidemiologists feel a change to this recommendation is needed based on our surveillance and disease investigation activities, DHEC will immediately notify the public."

March 11

9:00 p.m.

President Donald Trump addresses the nation from the Oval Office. He announces a travel ban from several European countries, dropping insurance co-pays for testing, small business loan availability and defering tax payments.

4:57 p.m.

SCDHEC is investigating one new possible case of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. The new case is a woman from Lancaster County. At this time there is no known travel outside the state or known contact with another case. The patient is currently hospitalized and isolated. This brings the total number of presumptive positive cases to eight, along with two confirmed cases.

11:13 a.m.

University of South Carolina announces that classes will be canceled the week after spring break March 16-22, all campus events next week cancelled and it will move to virtual instruction March 23 - APril 3. The university to remain open (residence halls, food services, limited transit). More information.

 

March 10

4:57 p.m.

DHEC announces two new possible cases of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Camden in Kershaw County. The new cases are household contacts who tested presumptive positive for COVID-19 and are currently hospitalized.

March 9

5:50 p.m.

DHEC announces it is investigating a seventh possible case of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, the agency announced today. A Camden man tested presumptive positive for COVID-19. He was evaluated at a healthcare facility, was not hospitalized and is currently isolated at home. He is a direct contact, meaning he had close face-to-face exposure, with a previously announced presumptive positive case.

1:21 p.m. 

DHEC tweets, "UPDATE: Individual in Spartanburg County recently traveled to Italy and returned through CLT airport. He had no symptoms until the day after he returned and had not traveled to any other US airport, therefore, we don't have reason to believe there was any risk to airport patrons."

March 8

4:58 p.m.

New indication of community spread in Camden, SC

DHEC announces four presumptive positive cases were identified after testing for COVID-19 was completed at DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory. These are in addition to the two presumptive positive cases the agency announced on March 6. That brings the total number of presumptive positive cases to six.

Two of these four new cases are direct contacts (meaning close face-to-face contact) with the Camden elderly woman who was announced as a presumptive positive on March 6. One of these two individuals is a woman who has hospitalized for reasons unrelated to COVID-19 and is isolated at this time.

The other individual, an elderly man, was temporarily admitted to a healthcare facility, was discharged, and is currently isolated at home.

The third new case is a man from Camden with no known connection, at this time, to the other presumptive positive cases from Camden. He was evaluated at a healthcare facility, was not hospitalized and is currently isolated at home.

The fourth new case is a man from Spartanburg County with no known connection, at this time, to any of the other presumptive positive cases. He is not hospitalized and is currently isolated at home. He had recently traveled to Italy, and returned to the U.S. through the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. He had no symptoms until the day after he returned and he had not traveled to any other U.S. airport, therefore, we don't have reason to believe there was any risk to airport patrons.

Updated Information

The elderly female from Camden was transferred to a health care facility in the Midlands on March 6 to receive a higher level of care. She remains isolated.

The woman from Charleston County is symptom-free and continuing to self-monitor.

March 6 

7:19 p.m. 

DHEC announces two possible cases of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. The presumptive positive cases are not linked. One case is located in Kershaw County and one case is located in Charleston County.  

One patient is an elderly adult female from Kershaw County who has been hospitalized and is in isolation.

A second patient is an adult female from Charleston County who recently traveled to France and Italy. The patient did not require hospitalization and is self-isolated at home.

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