At 3:00 pm on Friday, March 13, 2020, President Donald Trump declared a National Emergency over the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and announced a set of specific measures aimed at stemming the effects of the outbreak. The declaration frees up approximately $50 billion in federal funds under the Stafford Act to fight the fast-spreading virus. The declaration grants broad authority to the Secretary for Health and Human Services to waive provisions of certain laws and regulations to give doctors and hospitals maximum flexibility to respond to the virus and requires every state to open emergency operation centers. President Trump also announced that he was waiving interest on all student loans held by federal government agencies and has directed the Secretary of Energy to purchase large quantities of crude oil for the US strategic reserves to take advantage of low oil prices.
At 5:00 pm on Friday, March 13, 2020, Governor Henry McMaster declared a State of Emergency to enhance the state’s response to the COVID-19 virus. The Governor’s emergency declaration includes:
- Immediate restriction on visitation to nursing homes and assisted living facilities throughout the state (with the exception of end of life situations);
- Immediate suspension of visitation at state and local correctional facilities in all 46 counties;
- Immediate activation of the state’s price gouging laws;
- Immediate activation of the State Emergency Management Plan;
- Closing of all schools in Kershaw and Lancaster Counties for a period of 14 days;
- Directing the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) to consult with the state’s Superintendent of Education and local school district leadership to provide guidance on if and when remaining school districts should close schools and for what period of time; and
- Confirming that state government offices shall remain open during their normal business hours.
At this time, the Town of Seabrook Island and Charleston County government remain under normal operating conditions.
For general questions about COVID-19, please contact the SCDHEC Care Line at (855) 472-3432. Staff will be available to answer calls from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm seven days a week.
-Submitted by Joe Cronin, Town Administrator