WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTV) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order Friday calling for a mandatory quarantine for those coming into the state from areas in the country deemed “hot spots” for the novel coronavirus.
McMaster said that mandatory self-quarantine for those coming into the state from the states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and the city of New Orleans would be for 14 days. Those who disobey could face a criminal penalty, according to the governor.
A link to the executive order can be found here.
The governor made the announcement during a press conference with public health officials, in addition to senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott.
Graham took the stand to announce the signing of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Graham says $150 billion was set aside for states, municipalities, and counties to replenish money spent on fighting the virus.
Scott also mentioned the CARES Act touching on the small businesses’ benefit. Scott says $350 million is set aside to help small businesses who keep their employees.
“The goal is to secure the relationship between employers and employees. The best and most effective way for us to stymie the utilization of the unemployment system is to give incentive to employers to maintain the healthy relationship for employees,” Scott said.
South Carolina now has 925 cases in 41 counties*. The state has 18 virus-related deaths.
On Monday, South Carolina health officials announced 151 additional cases and two additional deaths related to the coronavirus.
One patient was an elderly individual from Beaufort County who had underlying health conditions. The other patient was an elderly individual from Anderson County with underlying health conditions.
“We’re all in this together,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC physician. “Today’s announcement is a stark reminder of the serious threat that COVID-19 poses to our families, friends, and communities. We encourage all South Carolinians to continue to listen to the guidance of our public health professionals and to, when possible, stay home and limit your close contact with others.”
On Friday afternoon, South Carolina health officials released the state’s coronavirus cases by zip code.
Late last week, DHEC reported a backlog of specimens to be tested that had developed at DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory due to a nationwide shortage in the reagents (chemicals) required to perform testing.
As of March 27, 2020, DHEC’s Laboratory now has the necessary reagents. The lab is operating extended hours and is testing specimens seven days a week. As of today, DHEC’s Laboratory will resume a turnaround time of 24-48 hours once specimens are received at the lab.
DHEC’s COVID-19 webpage is updated daily with a map of positive cases as well as the most current recommendations for protecting against COVID-19.
“We recognize that this is a challenging time and that what we’re calling on everyone across our state to do is not easy,” Dr. Traxler said. “But the risk of inaction is far too great. If we all don’t follow the guidance for social distancing and staying home, then we can anticipate seeing higher rates of cases similar to what we’ve seen in other states.”
All South Carolinians are encouraged to stay home and minimize contact with people outside their households to prevent the spread of the disease. Everyone is encouraged to monitor themselves for symptoms, practice social distancing, avoid touching frequently touched items, and regularly wash their hands.