S.C. Gov. McMaster orders groups of three or more people broken up as COVID-19 cases near 300 statewide

S.C. Gov. McMaster orders groups of three or more people broken up as COVID-19 cases near 300 statewide
On Monday, Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order directing all South Carolina law enforcement officials to prohibit or disperse any congregation or gatherings of people in groups of three or more if authorities believe it poses a threat to public health.

SOUTH CAROLINA (WBTV) - On Monday, Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order directing all South Carolina law enforcement officials to prohibit or disperse any congregation or gatherings of people in groups of three or more if authorities believe it poses a threat to public health.

This order does not include inside a home. It also doesn’t include people working at a business.

“It does not apply to private businesses nor to responsible South Carolinians continuing to make the best out of this situation. And as I said, this is not a shelter-in-place order but another measure aimed at containing the virus by controlling crowds, so that we do not have to shelter in place,” Gov. McMaster said.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is investigating 103 additional cases of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. This brings the total number statewide to 298 cases in 34 counties.

Five people in the state have died due to health reasons related to the coronavirus.

On Monday, officials revealed one of the newly-reported cases is in Chester County, two others are in Lancaster County and three others are in York County.

“Please note that today’s reported cases include two days’ worth of DHEC Public Health Laboratory testing. Due to a shipment delay from one of our lab suppliers, yesterday’s lab results were run later than usual and received after the 4 p.m. daily update,” Monday’s press release said.

“We recognize the hardships that are facing many South Carolinians as we continue to respond to this ongoing public health event,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC physician. “We encourage the public to focus on things that each of us can do to limit the spread of illness by washing your hands, covering your mouth when you cough, and practicing social distancing.”

County location of new cases

  • Anderson County: 5 cases
  • Beaufort County: 7 cases
  • Berkeley County: 2 case
  • Charleston County: 17 cases
  • Chester County: 1 case
  • Clarendon County: 3 cases
  • Dorchester County: 1 case
  • Darlington County: 2 cases
  • Fairfield County: 1 case
  • Florence County: 2 cases
  • Horry County: 5 cases
  • Kershaw County: 10 cases
  • Lancaster County: 2 cases
  • Lee County: 1 case
  • Lexington County: 5 cases
  • Georgetown County: 2 cases
  • Greenville County: 12 cases
  • Oconee County: 1 case
  • Orangeburg County: 5 cases
  • Richland County: 14 cases
  • Spartanburg County: 1 case
  • Sumter County: 1 case
  • York County: 3 cases

“This weekend, we saw large crowds gathered on beaches, on sandbars, and in parking lots. We are facing a dangerous and deadly enemy and this type of behavior is both irresponsible and selfish. Law enforcement asked for clarification as to how this existing law applies during this state of emergency. I have included it in an executive order to make it clear that law enforcement has the ability to disperse groups of people who pose a risk to the public’s safety and to the safety of others,” Gov. McMaster said.

So far, the governor has ordered all bars and restaurants to end dine-in service, and made an executive order to allow beer and wine curbside sales, though the alcohol cannot be delivered. He shut down public schools through the end of March and public universities were urged to finish the semester through online classes. The federal government canceled all mandatory testing done at k-12 schools each spring.

State health officials have urged business owners to “practice social distancing and think about whether they are providing an essential service.”

On Friday, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster directed agents with the State Law Enforcement Division and local law enforcement to disperse crowds gathered on state beaches to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. That enforcement order declares that it is unlawful for a person to, “congregate, unless authorized or in their homes, in groups of three or more and to refuse to disperse upon order of a law enforcement officer.”

On Thursday, Gov. McMaster signed an emergency funding bill to help with the state’s fight against the new coronavirus. House members voted unanimously to approve the legislation on Thursday afternoon, after the Senate passed it earlier this week.

The bill allocates $45 million to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). That money comes from the state’s contingency reserve fund. Lawmakers said right now the fund has $349 million waiting to be allocated.

DHEC said some of that $45 million will allow the agency to hire more people, buy more protective equipment, pay for staff support, finance an education campaign, cover the costs of quarantine and transportation and any other unexpected expenses related to fighting the coronavirus.

Gov. McMaster is also asking for South Carolina hospitals to immediately restrict visitations to patients, with the exception of end of life situations. The governor asks for compassion from South Carolina residents, and he also wants people to stay home to keep from spreading the virus.

McMaster has called for all public colleges and universities in the state to determine which employees are needed to ensure classes can continue online for the rest of the semester.

Around the same time as the news conference, officials at the University of South Carolina announced that all campuses within their system will be closed through the end of the semester due to the coronavirus pandemic. Also, UofSC has postponed all commencement ceremonies in May for all campuses. Officials are looking into possibly rescheduling in-person ceremonies.

Winthrop University is also moving to remote instruction for all courses for the remainder of the semester and is postponing spring commencement ceremonies.

As the state’s number of positive cases expectedly increases, DHEC will continue to provide the number of positive cases and the county of residence. DHEC’s COVID-19 county map provides the number of cases by county and is updated daily.

“Our top priorities remain preventing the spread of the disease and protecting the public health,” Traxler said. “This includes working to control spread and sharing measures that best protect our neighbors, friends and family.”

Gov. McMaster has also issued an executive order stating new guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The executive order will close all dine-in services at restaurants and bars beginning on Wednesday, March 18. To-go/take out services will be allowed.

McMaster also announced that he is prohibiting organized events of 50 or more across the state. The Department of Revenue has extended the state tax deadlines to June 1. McMaster also asked grocery stores and big box stores to limit the number of customer purchases on paper products and disinfectants.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the coronavirus is spread mainly from person-to-person by those in close contact, or through coughing and sneezing by someone who’s infected.

Symptoms of coronavirus can show up between two and 14 days of exposure, health officials said. Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But some severe cases can lead to death.

Those who are at the highest risk of catching COVID-19 are the young, the elderly and those who are already being treated for chronic medical diseases.

Young people who contract the virus are not likely to have a serious case, research shows.

Doctors said there is not currently a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, but over-the-counter medications, like cold and cough medicines, can help treat symptoms of the virus.

The mortality rate for people with the virus has been widely reported around 2 to 3%, but health experts note the actual percentage is not that high, as not all cases are diagnosed or reported.

The rate is higher than the flu, which kills on average about 0.1% of people who get it, based on a 10-year average of data from the CDC.

Anyone with concerns about their health, or who believes they are showing symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, should call their health care provider.

People with general questions about coronavirus should call the DHEC Care Line at 855-472-3432. The line is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. Callers are urged to be patient as call volumes are high.

People without a doctor can take advantage of free online screening from Prisma Health and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

MUSC has an online platform to aid with coronavirus diagnosis and care. Go to musc.care and access the COVID-19 platform. The service is free with code: COVID19.

Prisma Health also has a free virtual visit, which allows patients to video conference with a doctor instead of coming into a facility. The goal is to keep patients who don’t need to be treated at a hospital at home. Go to primsahealth.org/virtual-visit and use promo code COVID19 for a free virtual visit.

For more information on COVID-19, click or tap here to visit the CDC’s website.

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