Special Update - COVID-19
Our thoughts and prayers remain with the citizens and leaders of South Carolina as we deal with this crisis. As of last night, one person in Chester County and eighteen in York County have tested positive for the Coronavirus.
In just a few weeks, our state's focus has turned from the budget, education reform, and many other important issues to managing the spread and impact of this highly contagious virus. President Trump, Governor McMaster, and their respective teams are working around the clock to respond to the nation's healthcare needs and to map out a plan to get us back to our jobs, schools, friends, and families. The reality is that this situation is fluid and requires creativity, ingenuity, and an "all hands on deck" approach that I have seen firsthand throughout this pandemic. (Check out what a team of SC doctors has accomplished in this article.) I encourage you to continue thanking the doctors and nurses on the front lines and practice social distancing by staying at home to limit the spread of this virus. Together, we will come through this.
Note: The General Assembly is not in session this coming week because of the COVID-19 pandemic but can be called back into session quickly if needed by legislative leadership.
Both President Trump and Governor McMaster have been holding daily live briefings to keep the public up to date on COVID-19.
President Trump broadcasts live at 5pm EST: https://www.whitehouse.gov/live/
Governor McMaster broadcasts live at 4pm EST: https://www.scetv.org/coronavirus
*Times are subject to change.
Latest News from Governor McMaster:
- Gov. McMaster has ordered a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone coming from the states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and the city of New Orleans. He has also asked any visitors coming to South Carolina for more than two days to self-quarantine for two weeks as soon as they arrive.
- Gov. McMaster and S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman issued a joint statement announcing that S.C. public schools will remain closed through April 30.
- The U.S. Department of Education is waving standardized testing in South Carolina – including the SC READY, SC PASS end of course exams – this spring in order to relieve virtual learning stress.
- Gov. McMaster has restricted public gatherings of more than three people and that law enforcement may, in their discretion and policy, disperse groups that "pose a risk to the public's safety and to the safety of others." The Governor said that this order "does not apply to private businesses nor to responsible South Carolinians continuing to make the best out of this situation."
- Gov. McMaster issued an order last week that restricts restaurants and bars from providing sit down dining in both indoor and outdoor areas through March 31. Food service via take out, drive through, or delivery service is allowed. The Governor has also allowed curbside sale of beer and wine by restaurants during this time.
News from D.C.:
- Congress passed and the President signed a relief package aimed at lessening the economic burden of these times on hardworking Americans. Read here why U.S. Senator Tim Scott believes this legislation will help South Carolina.
- President Trump is extending the REAL ID enforcement deadline beyond the current October 1, 2020 deadline to October 1, 2021.
- Confirmed COVID-19 cases: Access this link, https://bit.ly/3bpxBwm for a summary of all confirmed cases in South Carolina listed by county and zip code.
- Filing for unemployment: Gov. McMaster has shortened the timeframe for individuals to receive unemployment by one week. To apply online, please do so at SC DEW. Unemployment is calculated as 2/3 of your average wages for previous 6 months. Those who qualify for unemployment are those individuals whose hours have been reduced due to COVID-19, or whose employer has shut down operations or whose employer has suffered a loss of production. Visit, www.scdew.gov for more information.
- Helping Small Businesses - 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. 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. South Carolina's businesses can apply online at: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
- Federal Student Loans - Interest Waived: The U.S. Department of Education has waived interest on federally held student loans for 60 days. To learn more, visit https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus.
- 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, visit https://dor.sc.gov.
- Internal Revenue Service: Payment deadline of April 15, 2020 extended to July 15, 2020. To learn more, visit https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/payment-deadline-extended-to-july-15-2020.
- COVID-19 Rumor Control -- FEMA: The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) set up a webpage to address COVID-19 related rumors, https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus-rumor-control.
- Job openings for healthcare workers: The South Carolina Medical Association and the South Carolina Hospital Association have joined together to create a database where physicians/licensed personnel can enter their information in order to be hired by S.C. Hospitals who are in need of personnel during the COVID-19 crisis. The database can be found at the following link: https://scha.org/helpnow
- COVID-19 Business Resource Center: The S.C. Department of Commerce has launched an online web portal to help businesses with issues arising from the pandemic. Visit, https://sccommerce.com for more information.
- Google COVID-19 Information & Resources: Google has launched a helpful website focused on education, prevention and local resources for COVID-19. People can find state-based resources, safety and prevention tips, search trends related to COVID-19, as well as, additional resources for individuals, educators and businesses. Visit https://www.google.com/covid19/ to find out more.