COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and members of the Department of Health and Environmental Control provided an update on the state’s response to the coronavirus.
During the news conference, McMaster asked that all South Carolina hospitals and medical facilities to immediately restrict visitation to patients, with the exception of end of life situations.
He added that visitors are asking for masks, gloves and gowns and that’s taking away from the people who need to treat the virus.
He also ordered that all non-essential employees and staff of the state of South Carolina to not report to work, starting on Friday. He said that agency heads must identify which employees are non-essential and who is able to work from home.
The governor also addressed unemployment benefits. He said that the approval period for unemployment benefits has been expedited and that those who are entitled to benefits will receive them a week earlier than usual.
The governor also said that unemployment benefit payments for employers are suspended until June 1.
During the news conference, he addressed public universities, colleges and technical colleges. He said each institution’s president will determine essential employees and allow non-essential employees to work from home, and in all cases, allow students to continue coursework online for the spring semester.
McMaster also sent a message to criminals who attempt to take advantage of the coronavirus situation. He said that lawless behavior, such as looting, robbery and theft, will not be tolerated.
During the news conference, it was asked whether South Carolina beaches will be closed. McMaster said that he has seen scenes like ones in Florida where beaches are packed and said that nothing is off the table and they’re monitoring the situation.
McMaster continued to urge common sense and said people need to wash their hands, don’t hoard paper products and sanitizers at stores and stop spreading rumors about the virus.
“We have to be calm, we need to not lose our heads, we need to be courteous and act like South Carolinians,” McMaster said.
DHEC officials released new numbers on coronavirus cases during the news conference. They said there are 81 confirmed cases, with a new case in Horry County bringing the total number to six.
Health officials said 906 tests have been done and 833 are negative which makes the number of positive cases less than 10%.