By Mike McCombs
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) on Saturday announced 165 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, and 3 additional deaths as Governor Henry McMaster moved closer to re-opening the state’s beaches and waterways and many retail businesses.
This brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Carolina to 4,246 and puts the death toll at 119.
Of the three deaths reported Saturday, two were elderly individuals with underlying health conditions from Horry County, and one was a middle-aged individual with no known underlying health conditions from Aiken County.
There were six new cases in Beaufort County bringing the total to 220 with eight deaths reported.
Widespread media reports indicate McMaster will issue orders allowing the re-opening of beaches and public access to rives, lakes and waterways, as well as many retail stores, on Monday, with the orders taking effect as soon as Tuesday.
“I’m hopeful that we can continue with safe, incremental progress,” Shannon Smith Erickson, S.C. State Representative for District 124, said in a text message to The Island News. “With continued social distancing, we can move back to some of our regular activities. Our citizens, businesses and community have been amazing, so I know we can do this together, too. I hope the Governor’s incremental, scientific matrix allows us these options.”
Congressman Joe Cunningham of the 1st Congressional District, in messages on Twitter and Facebook, said the details would be important.
“As much as I would love the beaches to be open, this feels premature. Any reopening must be done safely and in partnership with the local municipalities who will be directly impacted. They should have the autonomy to protect their residents,”Cunningham said. “The details here will be very important. I look forward to hearing those details from Governor McMaster on Monday, particularly how he intends to enforce this without putting our law enforcement at unnecessary risk.”