COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said he is not renewing the State of Emergency he issued for the COVID-19 pandemic 451 days ago.
He made that announcement at the South Carolina Emergency Operations Center Monday afternoon during a briefing with state health officials. The State of Emergency was put in place on March 13, 2020.
Governor McMaster had renewed the emergency declaration 30 times he said. It expired Sunday.
According to McMaster, the emergency declaration isn’t necessary at this point in the pandemic. “The consensus now is we longer need the emergency powers, but we need to proceed on the course we’ve set out.”
He urged South Carolinians to remain careful and alert.
Under the emergency declaration, the Governor issued orders to close schools, activate the National Guard, offer protections for First Responders, inmates and staff at state prisons to name a few things.
Over time, Gov. McMaster had ended some of these Executive Orders.
No COVID-19 restrictions were tied to the State of Emergency that was in place so it really doesn’t have an impact on day-to-day activities in the Palmetto State.
“We have worked our way through this well,” McMaster said.
State health officials said they agree with the decision because daily cases and deaths numbers are trending in the right direction. In DHEC’s daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic Monday, they said South Carolina the percent positive is under 2%.
DHEC Director Dr. Edward Simmer and Governor McMaster said without the State of Emergency the effort to protect South Carolinians remains. Only 38% of South Carolinians are fully vaccinated as of Monday afternoon.
Dr. Simmer said, “We’re still going to be doing lots of things to get vaccine out to our rural areas. Try to go door to door to encourage folks where we can. Just because the emergency ends it doesn’t mean the effort does.”
According to officials, this decision will not jeopardize the federal funding South Carolina is supposed to receive for the state’s response to COVID-19.
South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) Director Kim Stenson said South Carolina could receive about $415 million. Stenson said, “It can be used for everything from contract staff, medical supplies, PPE and vaccination operations. So it’s pretty much open ended.”
According to Governor McMaster, South Carolina is the seventh state to end it’s State of Emergency tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can watch the full press conference below: