WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Gov. Henry McMaster has announced his plan to reopen South Carolina beaches and certain non-essential retail stores.
McMaster issued a new executive order Monday that will make that possible.
Beaches can reopen Tuesday, April 21 at noon. However, it will be up to local officials whether or not beaches will reopen, the governor said.
Some have already spoken up saying they will not reopen, such as Myrtle Beach and Isle of Palms, Edisto Beach, Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island.
If local officials do reopen beaches, the governor says his mandate preventing groups of three or more people from gathering will remain in effect.
As for stores, several types of retail stores will be allowed to reopen under this executive order. That goes into effect at 5 p.m. Monday. Those stores include:
- furniture stores
- clothing and shoe stores
- department stores
- home furnishing stores
- music stores
- sporting good stores
- jewelry stores
- crafts stores
- flea markets
- accessory stores
- luggage and leather goods stores
Restrictions on how many customers can be inside those stores at once will be in effect. That means there can be no more than five customers per 1,000 square feet, or 20% occupancy, whichever is less.
“The people of South Carolina are complying very well,” the governor said.
He said residents are using common sense and that is why the reopening of beaches and stores is possible.
The governor also said people must continue to practice social distancing and good hygiene to help prevent further spread of the coronavirus. He reiterated the virus is deadly and we still need to protect those most at risk.
McMaster also said his previous executive order that prevents people traveling to South Carolina from hot spots from renting hotel rooms or other accommodations is still in effect.
The governor called reopening beaches and some businesses “a cautious step” and he assured the public he is looking at public health data to inform his decision.
As of Monday, no decision has been made about reopening schools or keeping them closed for the rest of the school year.
State Superintendent Molly Spearman joined WIS Today on Monday and said that decision will be announced later this week.
There are 4,439 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in South Carolina as of Monday, and 124 people have died.
When asked if officials believe South Carolina will see a second wave of coronavirus cases, DHEC director Rick Toomey said he is optimistic that won’t happen, but he cannot be sure.
This story will be updated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is spread mainly from person-to-person by those in close contact, or through coughing and sneezing by someone who’s infected.
Symptoms of the coronavirus can show up between two and 14 days of exposure, health officials say. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
For most people, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But some severe cases can lead to death.
Most people can recover from the virus at home using over-the-counter medications to treat their symptoms.
Those who are at the highest risk of developing severe case of COVID-19 are the elderly and those who are already being treated for chronic medical diseases.
Young people who contract the virus are not likely to have a serious case, research shows. However, the CDC said about 40% of people who needed to be hospitalized due to the coronavirus are between the ages of 20 and 54.
Those who are hospitalized with serious cases of COVID-19 have trouble breathing, and many need support from ventilators, which breathe for them. The U.S. is working to produce more of the machines to prepare, but experts fear a shortage of the life-saving devices.
The mortality rate for people with the virus has been widely reported around 2 to 3%, but health experts note the actual percentage is not that high, as not all cases are diagnosed or reported.
The rate is higher than the flu, which kills on average about 0.1% of people who get it, based on a 10-year average of data from the CDC.
Anyone with concerns about their health, or who believes they are showing symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, should call their health care provider. Avoid going to the doctor or an emergency room unless the situation is life-threatening.
People without a doctor can take advantage of free online screening from Prisma Health and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).
MUSC has an online platform to aid with coronavirus diagnosis and care. Go to musc.care and access the COVID-19 platform. The service is free with code: COVID19.
Prisma Health also has a free virtual visit, which allows patients to video conference with a doctor instead of coming into a facility. The goal is to keep patients who don’t need to be treated at a hospital at home. Go to prismahealth.org/virtual-visit and use promo code COVID19 for a free virtual visit.
For more information on COVID-19, click or tap here to visit the CDC’s website.