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Gov. McMaster ends state of emergency in South Carolina related to COVID-19 pandemic

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 3:39 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTV) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster says there will no longer be a state of emergency in the state related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the year since the COVID-19 pandemic started, Gov. McMaster issued 30 declarations of emergency, each lasting 15 days. The declaration gave him the power to give state aid to local governments, speed up handing out resources and ask for federal money during the pandemic.

Despite lower numbers, the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Director Dr. Edward Skimmer says the work to end the pandemic is not over.

“The end of the emergency doesn’t mean the end of the effort,” says Simmer. “So there’s much more work that we’re going to be doing to get more folks vaccinated.”

The governor says there will not be a 31st declaration of emergency for COVID-19, but says residents should continue to be careful and continue to be safe as the pandemic remains. The state’s health director echoed that same message.

”We’re going to continue to focus on defeating COVID and getting to the point where we can truly saw we control COVID instead of COVID controlling us,” says Simmer.

In the COVID-19 state of emergency order, people see efforts taken against price gouging, COVID-19 transmission, and a falling economy, but as for day-to-day living, it does not have much effect.

Dr. Simmer with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) says residents still need to take care of each other. He says a lot of people are still not vaccinated but need to be. There are apparently 900 vaccine sites across the state. Dr. Simmer says the disease is not going to completely go away, but the state can get to the point of controlling it better if more people get vaccinated.

DHEC reported 79 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, June 7, 2021.

Since the pandemic started, South Carolina has had 492,356 confirmed positive cases of the virus. The total number of COVID-19-related deaths in South Carolina is 8,594.

A total of 7,960,813 COVID-19 tests have been performed statewide. The percent positive for cases is 1.8 percent.

On May 11, 2021, McMaster issued an executive order that prohibits any county or local government in the state from relying on prior executive orders or using the state of emergency as the basis for a local mask mandate. The governor has directed DHEC – in consultation with the S.C. Department of Education – to develop and distribute a form that parents, or legal guardians can sign that would allow their child to opt-out of masks requirements imposed by public schools. This order also barred all state agencies and local governments from requiring proof of vaccination as a condition for receiving government services or entry to public buildings.

When it comes to incentives for COVID-19 vaccinations, Gov. McMaster on incentives says the state is not going to force or coerce people to take the vaccines.

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