Gov. McMaster activates National Guard, grants DHEC emergency powers


South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster speaks at a news conference introducing state Rep. Bobby Cox as his pick to lead the state’s veterans’ affairs agency, on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, at a news conference in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – Governor Henry McMaster implemented an executive order Saturday activating the South Carolina National Guard and giving DHEC the permission to utilize its emergency powers.

The executive order directs the Department of Health and Environmental Control to exercise all of its emergency powers as outlined in the Emergency Health Powers Act which allows the departments to do what it deems necessary to address the coronavirus pandemic.

In the executive order McMaster states, “I further direct DHEC to restrict visitation to nursing homes and assisted living facilities, with the exception of end-of-life situations, as DHEC deems necessary and appropriate.”

In addition the governor is placing the South Carolina National Guard on State Active Duty.

In Section 1 the executive order reads, “I further order the activation of South Carolina National Guard personnel and the utilization of appropriate equipment at the discretion of the Adjutant General, and in coordination with the Director of EMD, to take necessary and prudent actions to assist the people of this State. I authorize Dual Status Command, as necessary, to allow the Adjutant General or his designee to serve as commander over both federal (Title 10) and state forces (National Guard in Title 32 and/or State Active Duty status).”

The order also includes protections for first responders as it requires all emergency dispatchers to ask anyone calling 911 whether someone at their location is symptomatic for COVID-19.

The full executive order from the governor’s office can be found here.

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