200319 COVID19-01

Information on the prevention and treatment of the Coronavirus is developing rapidly.

This page is to inform constituents about how the COVID-19 Coronavirus is affecting South Carolina by consolidating information for you, your family, or your business. While we work to fight this disease, please remember to stay calm. Practice social distancing and observe good hygiene practices to prevent the spread of the virus, and help others in need if you can.

All of us are concerned about the pandemic and its impact on our health, our families, our businesses, our community, our economy, and our livelihood. Together, and with God’s help, we will get through this and we will be stronger as a state and as a nation.

Sen. Larry Grooms

COVID-19 Case Status, Prevention, and Treatment

SCDHEC — COVID-19 Coronavirus Case Status in SC: As of March 31st at 4:30pm, 1,083 South Carolinians have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. To date, there are 142 confirmed cases in Charleston County and 15 confirmed cases in Berkeley County. To see SCDHEC’s Coronavirus information page, go here.

Recommendations to Prevent the Spread of Illness: To prevent the spread of illness, remember to do the following:

  • Practice good hygiene;
  • Wash your hands;
  • Cover your cough;
  • Those who feel sick should stay home from school and work and not attend public gatherings;
  • If you recently traveled to a high risk country, you should self-quarantine for 14 days. To learn more, go here.

What To Do If You Are Experiencing Symptoms?: Here is guidance if you have symptoms:

  • Residents who are showing symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath should call their personal doctor or healthcare provider. If you do not have a primary care physician, MUSC Health is providing free telehealth screening to all South Carolinians. Anyone experiencing symptoms can visit any telehealth provider on this website here and use the promo code COVID19 to be screened without having to leave home.
  • Medical facilities and doctors offices ask that everyone call ahead so they can make arrangements to protect others when people come in for testing.
  • Based on your symptoms and exposure history (if any), medical professionals will decide if you need to be evaluated in person and may confer with state authorities about where and how to do the testing. They will give you instructions on how to arrive in a way that limits exposure.
  • Testing for COVID-19 can be requested by any physician or through a telehealth screening, according to DHEC.
  • All states now have a public health lab testing for coronavirus, and an increasing number of commercial and academic labs are testing as well.
  • If you have fever, cough, and other symptoms, it is possible that you may have the normal flu and not the COVID19-Coronavirus. If you have symptoms, it is very important that you call your healthcare provider and avoid exposing other people when you have symptoms.
  • The DHEC Care Line is available to provide general information about COVID-19 by calling 1-855-472-3432 from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. seven days a week.

Closures and Restrictions

Governor McMaster’s Emergency Management Order: Governor McMaster issued this order as follows:

  • All state government offices shall remain open for operation during their normal business hours;
  • 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.

Governor McMaster Closes Schools: On Sunday, Governor McMaster issued this order closing of all public schools in the State of South Carolina through the end of the month – March 31st. This includes all public K-12 schools, universities, colleges, and technical colleges. The order also provides that districts are to provide virtual instruction and remote learning while schools are closed.

School Closure Information: Information for parents, teachers, and students regarding statewide school closures can be found at the SC Department of Education site here, the Berkeley County Public School District here, and the Charleston County Public School District here.

Postponement or Cancellation of Large Public Gatherings: Governor McMaster also ordered the postponement or cancellation of large public gatherings of more than 100 people. That does not apply to state or local government bodies or private businesses and employers. The CDC recommends no gatherings more than 10 people. Governor McMaster also ordered that events of more than 50 people in any state, county, city, or other publicly-owned facility are prohibited through March 31, except for essential government functions.

Food Service Restrictions: Governor McMaster issued this Order that restricts restaurants and bars from providing sit down dining in both indoor and out door areas through March 31. Food service via take out, drive through, or delivery service is allowed.

Other Contents of Latest Order: Governor McMaster’s Order also stipulates the following:

  • State agencies are authorized to waive any regulation that hinders their ability to address the coronavirus crisis.
  • All state tax returns and payments due April 1 – June 1 will now be due June 1, 2020. This includes South Carolina Individual Income Taxes, Corporate Income Taxes, Sales and Use Tax, Admissions Tax, and other taxes filed and paid with the SCDOR.
  • The South Carolina National Guard will coordinate and plan with hospitals to create contingency plans for infrastructure needs.
  • SCDHEC will waive regulations so hospitals may use medical and nursing school students to help with COVID-19 response needs.

No Cancellation or Termination of Utilities: Governor McMaster directed that there be no termination of utility service during the state of emergency. Read his letter here.

Important Information for Individuals and Families

Unemployment and COVID-19: To learn more about how to apply for unemployment benefits, go here. For questions related to the Coronavirus and employment-related benefits, go here.

Health Insurance and COVID-19: The S.C. Department of Insurance has provided information as to health insurance companies doing business in South Carolina and coverage. To learn more, go here.

Veterans and COVID-19: The Veterans Administration has created this website with resources for veterans.

Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations for Households: The CDC issued this guidance on cleaning and disinfecting homes.

Children and COVID-19: The CDC issued this information as to children and COVID-19.

Pregnant/Breastfeeding and COVID-19: The CDC issued this information for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Local Grocery Stores: Several stores have been out of staples including toilet paper. Stores are stocking as quickly as they can and several stores are hiring more workers to help with stocking and cleaning.

Important Information for Businesses

S.C. OSHA Guidance on Preparing the Workplace for Coronavirus: SC OSHA wants to ensure that all employers and employees in our state have access to important information about preparing workplaces for COVID-19 (coronavirus). Federal OSHA has published Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 to help companies respond in the event of coronavirus in the workplace. The documents provide practical guidance for preventing the spread of COVID-19, and contain information on safe work practices and appropriate personal protective equipment based on the risk level of exposure. In addition, Federal OSHA launched a COVID-19 webpage. If you have questions, you may contact SC OSHA at (803) 896-7665.

S.C. DHEC Employer Guidance on Coronavirus: DHEC issued this guidance to help businesses make informed decisions related to the virus.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans: The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans, through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the COVID-19. This program is designed to help the business community address financing and cash flow issues, which may exceed the underwriting requirements for local financial institutions. On March 17, Governor McMaster submitted the required request for assistance to the Small Business Administration (SBA) to make loans available in the form of SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans for eligible small businesses located in all 46 counties of the state. After approval of our state-certification by the SBA, the South Carolina Department of Commerce and South Carolina Emergency Management Division websites will have explicit instructions on how to fill out the SBA loan application. Please note this is a loan—not a grant—and will still carry underwriting requirements. If a small business is interested in obtaining an SBA loan, please contact Chuck Bundy at the South Carolina Department of Commerce at cbundy@sccommerce.com or 803-737-0440.

Department of Labor — FMLA and COVID-19: The Department of Labor issued this information bulletin for guidance on FMLA.

Filing Temporary Unemployment Claims for Your Employees: If a business owner is planning a temporary lay off related to the Coronavirus, guidance for that can be found here.

Business Interruption Insurance: Some local businesses may have business interruption insurance. There may be exclusions in the policy as to business loss from a virus. Business owners and staff can contact the SC Department of Insurance at (803) 737-6805 to request a policy review if needed.

Payment of Taxes — Extensions

SC Department of Revenue: Various tax filing and payment deadlines starting on April 1, 2020 were extended. As a result, affected individuals and businesses will have until June 1, 2020 to file and pay taxes for returns that are due between April 1, 2020 and June 1, 2020. To learn more, go here.

Internal Revenue Service: Payment deadline of April 15, 2020 extended to July 15, 2020. To learn more, go here.

Other Information and Updates

Additional Funding Approved for SCDHEC: The State Legislature has approved Governor McMaster’s request to make $45 million in state funds from the 2019/2020 Contingency Reserve Fund immediately available for SCDHEC to use to coordinate the state’s response in combatting the virus. Any funds not utilized by DHEC would be returned to the Contingency Reserve Fund upon completion of the department’s efforts. After passing the Senate, the House of Representatives approved the request on Thursday, with McMaster signing the bill only 15 minutes later.

S.C. Medical and Licensing Boards Issue Emergency Licensing: 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. This is an available tool to combat the virus in our state. Here are the specifics:

  • 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. You can apply for licensure by clicking here.
  • For nurses, South Carolina is part of the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC), which means registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) from these 32 other states who have multi-state licenses can work in South Carolina at any time. All states in the Southeast are part of the Nursing Compact. Additionally, the Board of Nursing can expedite licensure of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), as well as RNs and LPNs from non-compact states. The expedited licensure only requires information from the hospital or other health provider or organization that is requesting the additional nursing staff from another state. The license is good for 15 days, but may be renewed. There is no fee associated with this expedited, temporary license. You can apply for licensure by clicking here.

President Trump’s Emergency Order: President Trump issued this Order declaring a national emergency. To see updates from the White House on this, go here.

SRS and Department of Energy: SRS is fully operational at this time. SRS and DOE officials have taken these steps to protect workers:

  • Activated the SRS Infectious Disease Response Team and implemented a command structure that includes 24-hour staffing and situation monitoring as well as daily leadership calls to ensure all issues are being appropriately addressed.
  • Followed the guidelines of the Center for Disease Control and shared specific guidance with our employees on the importance of respecting social distancing, proper hand washing and personal hygiene.
  • Initiated remote screening for all returning international travelers and a robust policy to avoid non-essential travel has been put in place.
  • Canceled tours and visits to SRS through the end of April.
  • Limited in-person meetings to less than 10 employees, larger meetings are being conducted via telephone.
  • Instituted extra cleaning of our facilities and put contracts in place to handle more extensive sanitizing.

Be Cautious of Scams: Be alert to possible disaster-related scams such as fraudulent phone calls or price gouging and report any suspected scams to the S.C. Attorney General by going here.