By Mike McCombs
On the day South Carolina broke the 1,000-case mark and a day after Beaufort County saw its first death from the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, S.C. Governor Henry McMaster ordered all non-essential businesses closed in the state, still falling short of a shelter-in-place order desired by the mayors of the four municipalities in Beaufort County.
On Tuesday, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today reported 158 additional confirmed cases of coronavirus, taking South Carolina to 1,083 cases in 42 counties. There were 17 new cases in Beaufort County, making it a troubling 41 cases in two days and 91 total, the fifth highest county total in the state.
A day after Beaufort County reported its first coronavirus death — an elderly individual who had underlying health conditions – there were four more deaths, according to DHEC, bringing the total statewide to 22.
Three of Tuesday’s victims were elderly individuals who also had underlying health conditions, and one patient was a middle-aged individual who did not have underlying health conditions. They were residents of Aiken, Calhoun, Marion, and York counties.
“Our hearts go out to the families and friends of these individuals, as well as to the medical professionals who helped care for them,” DHEC medical consultant Dr. Brannon Traxler said. “Their loss is a reminder that the risk of inaction on all of our parts is far too great. Social distancing and staying home have never been more critical in our fight against this pandemic.”
McMaster issued Executive Order 2020-17, which ordered the closure of non-essential businesses, as defined by the executive order, throughout the state.
If a business has a question as to whether it qualifies as essential, it should complete the Essential Business Clarification form located on the South Carolina Department of Commerce website. Questions can also be sent to email@example.com, or business representatives can call 803-734-2873.
A team from South Carolina Department of Commerce will review the business’s request for clarification, and the business will receive a response with their determination, essential or non-essential, within 24 hours. If a business is not explicitly addressed in the governor’s executive order, the business should continue normal operations until a determination is made.
In recent days, McMaster has also closed all public access to beaches and waterways to combat groups of people which did not practice social distancing. He also ordered all out-of-state visitors to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in South Carolina, essentially shutting down tourism.
Earlier in the week, the mayors of Beaufort, Port Royal, Bluffton and Hilton Head Island took part in a joint resolution asking McMaster to enact a shelter-in-place or stay-at-home mandate. McMaster is on record opposing such an act.
The businesses that will be closed as a result of the governor’s executive order are as follows:
Entertainment venues and facilities as follows: Night clubs; bowling alleys; arcades; concert venues; theaters, auditoriums, and performing arts centers; tourist attractions (including museums, aquariums, and planetariums); racetracks; indoor children’s play areas (excluding daycare facilities); adult entertainment venues; bingo halls; venues operated by social clubs.
Recreational and athletic facilities and activities as follows: Fitness and exercise centers and commercial gyms; spas and public or commercial swimming pools; group exercise facilities, to include yoga, barre, and spin studios or facilities; spectator sports; sports that involve interaction with another person in close proximity and within less than six (6) feet of another person; activities that require the use of shared sporting apparatus and equipment; activities on commercial or public playground equipment.
Close-contact service providers as follows: Barber shops; hair salons; waxing salons treading salons nail salons and spas; body-art facilities and tattoo services tanning salons; massage-therapy establishments and massage services.