McMaster closes additional businesses, stops short of stay-at-home order
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster shut down other businesses by executive order Friday that had previously been deemed essential as COVID-19 continued to spread across the state.
Two additional cases of the novel corona virus were confirmed in Laurens County, bringing the total to six across the county. Statewide, the number of confirmed cases grew to 1,700 – and increase of 147 cases from Thursday. Thirty-four people in the state have died from the virus.
The additional business closures include – but are not limited to – bookstores, music scores, hobby and craft stores and home furnishings stores. Those closures will go into effect at 5 p.m. Monday.
McMaster also announced that short-term rentals to anyone from Center for Disease Control-identified “hotspots” for the virus such as New York and Massachusetts have been stopped. There are exceptions, which include emergency personnel, law enforcement and medical professionals who can still rent in the short term at hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, timeshares and private properties.
While adding to the list of non-essential businesses that are to be closed, McMaster stopped short of stay-at-home orders that would shut down even more businesses across the state. South Carolina remains one of nine states that have not enacted such orders. Alabama became the latest to issue stay-at-home orders, leaving South Carolina as the only state in the Southeast region without stay-at-home orders.
“We’re taking a deliberate approach to be as aggressive as we possibly can at the right time using the data and the science,” McMaster said, adding that if such an order is deemed necessary it would be made.
McMaster said the state is “unique,” and that is been a determining factor as to why the stay-at-home order has not be issued, citing other executive orders that he said are helping to curb the spread of the virus. He also said the absence of a large metropolitan area such as Atlanta has weighed in the decision-making process.
“We will do everything we can without doing lasting damage that is unnecessary,” McMaster said. “I believe we are taking a precise, deliberate approach that will keep everybody safe.”
DHEC officials also said there is currently no backlog of COVID-19 tests, but the agency will soon run out of the reagents needed for the tests.
State officials have also asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for equipment, including ventilators, but have received nothing so far. They also said 52% of critical care beds in hospitals around the state are filled.