McMaster to announce 'Accelerate South Carolina’ initiative

Updated: Apr. 16, 2020 at 5:48 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTV) - The governor of South Carolina urged residents to keep social distancing right now, but had encouraging words about when restrictions could be lifted.

“I look forward to working together to accelerate South Carolina’s economic restart,” McMaster wrote.

During a news conference Thursday, McMaster said he will announce “Accelerate South Carolina,” an initiative to get the state’s economy up and running.

He said the initiative will put together a group consisting of representatives from manufacturing, tourism, hospitality, and agribusiness industries, among others, to come up with the best practices to get businesses “humming again.”

“We are going to find the best ways to do it quickly and safely,” McMaster said.

The governor is issuing an executive order to reopen public boat landings and ramps across the state. The ramps and landings were previously ordered closed to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

McMaster is hopeful that businesses and activities in the state can resume by late June after the expected peak of COVID-19 cases in May, according to a letter sent to the leaders of the General Assembly.

Brian Symmes, spokesperson for the governor’s office, said via email, however, that the reference to late June was simply a suggestion as to when McMaster could call the General Assembly back into session.

McMaster said returning for session before May 14 could place the health and safety of legislatures “at an elevated risk for exposure to the virus.” The governor cited information from health officials, who said the projected peak of the coronavirus in the state is the end of April/early May.

The state now has 3,931 people who have tested positive for COVID-19. There have also been 109 deaths in the state.

On Thursday, state health officials announced 276 new cases and two additional deaths.

The Lancaster County Coroner’s Office has confirmed its third coronavirus-related death.

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.

The total number of S.C. cases in the WBTV viewing area by county include:

  • Chester County: 21 cases
  • Chesterfield County: 29 cases
  • Lancaster County: 70 total cases
  • York County: 150 cases

DHEC provided an updated summary regarding cases confirmed to date as well as projections through May 2.

On March 6 the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in South Carolina. The projections currently indicate that South Carolina may see almost 2,000 new cases per week by early May. The total number of cases is estimated to grow to 8,677 confirmed cases on May 2.

As of April 15, DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory has conducted 11,271 tests for COVID-19. Of these tests, 1,370 positive and 9,901 were negative. A total of 36,284 total tests by both DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory and private labs have been conducted in the state.

As of Thursday morning, 5,074 hospital beds are available and 6,283 are utilized, which is a 55.3% statewide hospital bed utilization rate.

The latest confirmed COVID-19 cases by ZIP code are available here. This includes estimated cases by ZIP code.

South Carolinians are encouraged to stay home and minimize contact with people outside their households to prevent the spread of the disease. Other steps the public should take include:

  • Monitoring for symptoms
  • Practicing social distancing
  • Avoiding touching frequently touched items
  • Regularly washing your hands

A “Home or Work" order signed by Gov. Henry McMaster went into effect at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7.

Under the order, all South Carolina residents should stay at home unless they are working, visiting family, participating in recreational outdoor activity or obtaining necessary goods, items or services, attending religious services or traveling as required.

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