COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – Gov. Henry McMaster and state health officials provided an update on South Carolina’s response to COVID-19 Wednesday afternoon.
Daily case counts in the state have continued to rise since late May.
528 new cases of the novel coronavirus were reported in South Carolina Wednesday, the second highest single-day total since the pandemic began.
During Wednesday’s news conference, South Carolina State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell expressed worry over the increasing case counts.
“Today, I am more concerned about COVID-19 in South Carolina then I have ever been before,” said Dr. Bell.
Greenville County has also been identified as a hot spot for the virus. 145 new cases were reported in the county Wednesday alone.
Dr. Bell said that DHEC determined that 31% of the Greenville cases have been occurring in the Latino population.
7 more people have also died from the virus in the state. Five of the deaths were elderly residents, including two in Greenville and one each in Chesterfield, Florence, and Spartanburg counties.
When asked if the state would require the public to wear masks, Governor McMaster said that would be left to individual responsibility, not mandates by the government.
McMaster also said they are planning to extend South Carolina’s state of emergency. The governor had previously extended the state of emergency for 15 additional days in late May.
A total of 15,759 people have been confirmed to have COVID-19 in the state while 575 people have died from the virus statewide.
261,377 coronavirus tests have been conducted by the DHEC Public Health Laboratory and private labs.
513 people are currently hospitalized who have tested positive for or are being investigated for COVID-19.
CARES Act Funds
On Wednesday, McMaster released his recommendations to the South Carolina General Assembly for how the state’s share of federal CARES Act funds should be used. His proposal comes after AccelerateSC worked to determine how to best use the funds.
“One important charge given to AccelerateSC was the conduct of a thorough and complete review of the federal Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act,” McMaster said. “They were also tasked with providing expenditure recommendations to the governor for the $1.9 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) included in the CARES Act for the reimbursement of South Carolina COVID-19 related expenses.”
“Authorization for the disbursal of CRF funds should be done in two phases. The first phase done this month before the close of the fiscal year to address the most pressing and time sensitive needs. A second phase of needs can be addressed by the General Assembly at a later date,” the governor said.
Among the governor’s recommendations is, at a minimum, a $500 million investment in the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which was depleted due to COVID-19’s economic impact on South Carolina.
“The reforms enacted by the General Assembly in the wake of the 2008 Great Recession should not be forgotten, including paying off the billion-dollar unemployment insurance trust fund deficit,” according to the governor’s letter. “Many businesses will not survive paying higher taxes to replenish the fund twice in one decade. This nightmare can be avoided by immediately directing $500,000,000 be deposited into the unemployment insurance trust fund, with the understanding that additional funds will be necessary as the full impact on the unemployment insurance trust fund is calculated in the coming months.”
“I believe this may be the most important step we can take toward restoring our state’s economic engines to full speed and it will instill a renewed sense of confidence and stability with our business owners, investors and entrepreneurs,” McMaster said.
New cases by county:
- Aiken County: 2
- Anderson County: 1
- Barnwell County: 1
- Beaufort County: 19
- Berkeley County: 11
- Charleston County: 37
- Cherokee County: 2
- Chesterfield County: 7
- Clarendon County: 2
- Colleton County: 9
- Darlington County: 3
- Dillon County: 1
- Dorchester County: 7
- Fairfield County: 3
- Florence County: 3
- Georgetown County: 8
- Greenville County: 145
- Greenwood County: 1
- Horry County: 79
- Kershaw County: 6
- Lancaster County: 6
- Laurens County: 4
- Lee County: 2
- Lexington County: 27
- Marlboro County: 4
- Newberry County: 1
- Oconee County: 4
- Orangeburg County: 4
- Pickens County: 14
- Richland County: 66
- Spartanburg County: 11
- Sumter County: 15
- Williamsburg County: 1
- York County: 22