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SC Governor Reopens More Businesses, Requires Masks In Restaurants, State Buildings

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At the end of the deadliest month yet in the COVID-19 pandemic, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued several executive orders Wednesday — to include reopening of all remaining businesses and implementing enforceable laws for restaurants.

In Wednesday’s press conference, McMaster reopened concert halls, stadiums, spectator sport venues, amphitheaters, gymnasiums and movie theaters starting Monday Aug. 3 with certain restrictions that will be enforceable by local and state law enforcement.

These mass-gathering type businesses can reopen if owners and customers wear masks and follow these guidelines. Owners must also operate at 50 percent occupancy with a 250-person limit per venue.

McMaster also ordered that restaurants must adhere to the following guidelines, now enforceable by law:

  • Tables must be spaced 6 feet apart.
  • No more than 50 percent occupancy indoors.
  • No gatherings at bar areas.
  • Masks required for employees and customers.

McMaster encouraged local, county, and state officials to enforce these orders. Violators would be charged with a misdemeanor.

The South Carolina governor also ordered for masks to be required inside all state government buildings.

“These limited restrictions are temporary, they are measured, and they are targeted towards what we know works,” McMaster said.

Outside of these businesses, McMaster “strongly encouraged” South Carolinians to wear face masks, and asked city and county officials to pass mask mandates. At least 13 of South Carolina’s 15 largest cities have passed mask ordinances.

Before Wednesday, McMaster had not addressed the state on the COVID-19 pandemic since U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited on July 21. In those eight days, South Carolina reported 406 coronavirus deaths.

COVID-19 In SC

South Carolina health officials reported an additional 48 COVID-19 deaths and 1,666 cases Wednesday.

South Carolina has reported more deaths in the month of July (822) than it did in the first four months of the pandemic combined.

As you can see, COVID-19 deaths in South Carolina have surged in July. South Carolina averaged 8 daily coronavirus deaths in May and June. In July, the average daily death count has tripled, now at 27 deaths per day.

In the last week, South Carolina’s percent positive rate and number of positive cases have shown signs of leveling off. For the fifth day in a row, the state’s percent positive rate was below 20.

McMaster said Wednesday that hospitalization numbers were his largest concern as some hospitals were facing staff shortages.

For hospitalizations, SCDHEC did not provide this data from July 24-27, 2020 – which the agency blamed on a federally mandated switch from a reporting system administered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to a “TeleTracking” system administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“DHEC is working with the S.C. Hospital Association to create a new process for gathering inpatient bed availability and occupancy from each hospital in the state, as this is the reporting metric that best provides the number of hospital beds available for caring for adult COVID-19 patients,” DHEC officials said Wednesday.

Here is our latest chart on hospitalizations …

(Via: Mandy Matney)

Among the 1,596 hospitalized for COVID-19, 404 are in the ICU and 242 are on ventilators.

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