Despite increasing concern as coronavirus cases in South Carolina surge, 170 state senators and representatives have been summoned to meet for a special session this week.
On Sunday, state representative Justin Bamberg wrote a letter requesting a mandatory at-home quarantine for the lawmakers after meeting at the State House in Columbia, South Carolina on April 8.
“It does us no good to make efforts to protect our citizens while at the same time returning home and possibly exposing them to COVID-19 should any member present on Wednesday be asymptomatic of the virus,” Bamberg wrote in the letter to S.C. speaker of the House Jay Lucas and Gov. Henry McMaster.
As we previously reported, lawmakers are planning to take up two specific agenda items next week. First, they are expected to approve a continuing resolution that funds state government at its current levels. Second, they will pass a separate resolution that would allow for the chamber to adjourn sine die, which is Latin for “without day.”
In other words, they will approve the same spending plan they passed last year – and then agree not to meet again until further notice.
“Returning to session to fulfill our continuing obligations to the people of South Carolina is true leadership,” Bamberg wrote in the letter. “Failing to take adequate measures to protect our citizens upon our return is not.”
Bamberg said in the letter they’ve been told the chamber will be cleaned and the balcony will be closed to the public to make room for lawmakers to spread out during the one-day session.
Several lawmakers have expressed concern about the session being held this week as leaders and experts have urged the importance of staying home and social distancing. Senator Mia McLeod called it “political malpractice” in a recent FITSNews guest column.
“Leadership’s position is basically this: “We’ve weighed the risks for you and decided that your lives aren’t worth special or additional consideration. Neither are the lives of your loved ones who may be at risk simply by your being here,” McLeod wrote.
“And with COVID-19 peak dates looming, even the Governor has limited public gatherings to 3 people or less and closed all schools, public beach access and nonessential businesses,” she continued. “So what can Senate and House “leaders” possibly be thinking?”
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) reported another sizable surge in coronavirus cases on Sunday with 132 new cases and four deaths in the global pandemic.
S.C. now has 2,049 total COVID-19 cases and 44 deaths, officials said Sunday.
South Carolina is the only state east of the Mississippi River without a statewide stay-at-home order.
Richland County — where the State House is located— is now the epicenter for the pandemic in the Palmetto State with 298 cases.
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