On Thursday, South Carolina governor Henry McMaster ordered that non-essential state employees should stay home from work as the number of coronavirus (known officially as 2019-nCoV or COVID-19) cases statewide continued to climb.
The supervisors of each individual agency should decide which employees work from home starting Friday (March 20, 2020) until further notice, McMaster announced in a Thursday afternoon press conference.
“State agencies and departments shall utilize, to the maximum extent possible, telecommuting or work-from-home options for non-essential employees,” an executive order released by the governor’s office noted.
Meanwhile, college and university presidents in South Carolina should decide which employees are essential for students to finish the current spring semester online.
County and municipal governments were also ordered to provide access to state agencies deemed critical in responding to this crisis, McMaster said.
McMaster added that the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) is working to speed up the approval period for unemployment benefits – at least one week faster than normal. For employers, unemployment insurance benefits are suspended until June 1.
The governor said that law enforcement is on duty “as strong or stronger than before to (ensure) that no one is harmed by lawless behavior in this period.” He said student resource officers and court officers can work in different positions to accomplish this.
McMaster requested – but did not order – hospitals to restrict visitations to patients with the exception of end-of-life situations.
He urged again for South Carolinians practice social distancing.
“If you don’t need to be in a public place then stay home,” McMaster said.
S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Services (SCDHEC) officials said they’re seeing a dramatic increase in the number of tests, but a majority of the cases have been negative. In total, 833 people have tested negative for coronavirus. The state now has 81 cases across 17 cases.
Officials said they want to reserve the supplies of testing now that they’re using the supply of tests so quickly.
Earlier this week, McMaster shut down schools, banned events with more than 50 people, and restricted restaurant operations by closing all dining-in services.
The latest CDC research released this week shows that COVID-19 is hitting millennials harder than it did in China with about 1/5 of infected people between 20 and 44 requiring hospitalization for treatment. Of the 508 patients hospitalized, between 4.9 and 11.5 percent of COVID-19 patients were admitted to the ICU.
The CDC data (encompassing more than 2,000 patients in the United States) showed that 49 percent of cases were people over 55 years old. Mortality rates are highest among the elderly in the U.S., as they were in China. About 80 percent of the deaths so far were people over 60.
Data continues to show that coronavirus is largely sparing children. Less than five percent of the cases reported to the CDC were children under the age of nineteen. There have been no deaths of children under the age of nineteen so far in the United States.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 2019-nCoV had infected 207,855
people in 166 countries, killing 8,648 of them – according to the latest statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO). In the United States, the virus had infected 10,822 people in all fifty states – killing 172 of them – according to a database maintained by The New York Times.
In South Carolina, there have been 81 cases with one fatality, according to the latest statistics provided by government health officials.