Major Local Announcements
○ In addition to the coverage we’re providing here and in our daily newsletter, you can also follow us on social media for up-to-the-minute news and announcements concerning the coronavirus. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
○ On Sunday, DHEC announced 1,366 new cases of coronavirus and 5 additional deaths in SC. That brings the total number of cases in SC of COVID-19 to 33,221, and the total deaths to 712.
○ Of those new cases, 239 were reported in Charleston County, 57 were in Berkeley County, and 43 were in Dorchester County. One reported death occurred in Charleston County.
○ The SC House has approved a plan to allocate the CARES Act federal funding the state received. The plan includes expanding broadband access across the state, testing and rebuilding the unemployment trust fund. Roughly $600 million in funding will be saved for future COVID-19 response through the end of this year. The bill will need to be signed by the governor to go into effect. (WIS)
○ Government leaders are urging anyone who has visited a beach in South Carolina to get tested for COVID-19. While positive cases continue to increase, the likelihood of being exposed to the virus, especially in a densely populated area such as the beach, also rises. (The State)
○ In April, local healthcare workers were sent to the frontlines in New York to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Read MUSC nurse Mitch Haverstuhl’s account of the events leading up to his departure, his time spent in New York + his return home here. (The Post and Courier)
○ Today, MUSC Health will offer a mobile walk-up COVID-19 testing site and drive-through specimen collection. The site is located at the Goose Creek Fire Department Headquarters (201 Button Hall Ave.) and will be open from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
○ Citadel football players, in addition to cadet-athletes from other sports, began returning to campus for voluntary workouts on Monday. After deliberation between key decision makers, a clear set of measures were created and outlined for the cadet-athletes to follow in order to phase them back in while being conscientious of the current pandemic. (The Post and Courier)
○ Emergency rental assistance through SC Thrive is still available to SC residents who are behind on rent because of the coronavirus. Residents can check eligibility + apply for the program here. (WIS)
○ Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center was awarded $10,000 from The One SC Fund: COVID-19 Response. The grant will assist Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center’s telehealth response during the pandemic. If you wish to donate to One SC Fund, you can do so here. If you are a nonprofit in need of assistance, more information on grants can be found here.
○ In a study done by WalletHub, they found that 60% of Americans feel COVID-19 has changed the way we work for the better in their Coronavirus and Working from Home Survey. The study asked questions including how being at home has affected productivity + what people miss most about the office. (WalletHub)
○ Yesterday, we mentioned that North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey had been quarantined following his wife testing positive for COVID-19. He + his wife’s test results have come back negative and the couple is no longer in quarantine. For precaution, all office employees + their spouses are getting tested for the virus. (WCIV)
○ Correction: North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey + his wife have tested negative for COVID-19 and are no longer in quarantine. Earlier this week, it was announced that a city employee’s spouse tested positive for COVID-19. For precaution, all office employees + their spouses were being tested for the virus. Yesterday, we incorrectly mentioned that Mayor Summey had been quarantined following his wife testing positive for COVID-19. (WCIV)
○ Because of the current pandemic, Camp Happy Days – a haven for children with cancer and their siblings across the state of South Carolina – is unable to hold their free, annual summer camp. Instead, the organization has decided to send 375 boxes to the children filled with games, favors and more, in addition to holding virtual zoom meetings with the children. (WCIV)
○ Whirlin’ Waters reopened on Monday, June 15, with a limited capacity of 1,000 guests at a time. With a normal capacity of 4,200 people, park officials chose to limit the capacity of patrons in an effort to promote social distancing. For more information on additional precautionary measures that the waterpark is taking, click here. (WCSC)
○ SCDHEC, the SC Hospital Association (SCHA), the SC Medical Association (SCMA) and the SC Office of Rural Health (SCORH) have issued a joint statement calling on all South Carolinians to continue to practice social distancing by maintaining at least six feet between individuals and using face masks properly in public areas. “Together, we can turn the tide on the COVID-19 pandemic and save lives in South Carolina.”
○ Silver Airways, a Fort Lauderdale-based carrier, has chosen to postpone flights between Charleston and Orlando, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale indefinitely. The airline originally planned to begin flights May 21, but this proposal was deferred due to the coronavirus outbreak. (The Post and Courier)
○ The College of Charleston announced the approval of a tuition freeze for the 2020-21 academic year, per a unanimous vote from the college’s Board of Trustees in an attempt to aid families financially struggling due to the pandemic. More info on tuition rates here.
○ SC ranked no. 19 on WalletHub’s list of State Economies Most Exposed to Coronavirus. The results were calculated by weighing a number of factors, including the share of small businesses with temporary closings, states hit with most unemployment claims, and the percent change in consumer spending. (WalletHub)
○ Due to coronavirus concerns, the Town of Summerville’s annual Fourth of July firework display has been cancelled. (WCIV)
○ Of the 11 deaths reported by DHEC Monday, one was in Berkeley County. No deaths were reported in Charleston or Dorchester counties.
○ Of the 542 new cases reported by DHEC Monday, 38 were in Charleston County, 9 were in Berkeley County, and 10 were in Dorchester County. Greenville County saw the biggest increase Monday, with 115 new cases reported.
○ All businesses – regardless of size, industry, or municipality – are invited to affirm their commitment to prioritizing safety in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic by participating in the One Region Ready Pledge. Businesses certifying the Pledge will receive “One Region Ready” materials they can post on premises and online. In addition, their organization will be added to a searchable, online database on the One Region Ready website.
○ As SC begins to reopen, the medical experts at MUSC Health are sharing how they’re keeping patients safe during emergency surgeries and procedures. Dr. Prabhakar K. Baliga explains why patients shouldn’t wait to visit the hospital during an emergency. Ⓟ
○ As South Carolina increases testing, DHEC reports that there will likely be more laboratory-confirmed cases. The total number of individuals tested Monday statewide was 6,262 and the percent positive was 8.7%. DHEC says the percent positive may more accurately reflect how much disease is present in the community.
○ As of Thursday morning, DHEC reported a 71.34% statewide hospital bed utilization rate. Of the 7,390 inpatient beds currently used, 453 are occupied by patients who have either tested positive or are under investigation for COVID-19.
○ There are currently 168 permanent testing locations for COVID-19 across South Carolina. There are also 116 mobile testing events scheduled around the state through July 2. Find a testing facility or event near you here.
○ South Carolina Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette indicated that the final business restrictions put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic could be lifted as early as this week. While most sectors have been given the green light to reopen, nightclubs, bowling alleys, theaters, adult entertainment venues and some spectator sports are still prohibited.
○ Charleston ranks 14th on WalletHub’s list of cities with the biggest increases in unemployment rates due to coronavirus. Unemployment in Charleston in April 2020 grew by 651.78% compared to April 2019.
○ That being said, the number of new unemployment claims in SC is decreasing. Last week, 18,986 South Carolinians filed their initial uninsurance claim – representing 5,964 fewer claims than the week prior. The number of new claims has decreased weekly for seven consecutive weeks. (WCSC)
○ Berkeley Electric Cooperative announced it will return $5 million in capital credits to its customers, in an effort to alleviate financial pressure caused by the pandemic. The share of the credit will be based on past credit usage, and will be issued in the next few weeks. (WCBD)
○ With the ongoing threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Charleston tourism remains down during what would otherwise be one of the busiest times of year for visitors. Explore Charleston leaders say they are focusing on bringing in visitors within the “drive market”, meaning those who would be driving to Charleston versus flying. (WCIV)
○ On Tuesday, UofSC men’s basketball coach Frank Martin released a statement announcing that he was diagnosed with COVID-19 last month. Martin says he was tested for the virus while preparing to undergo knee replacement surgery on May 8. On May 23, a follow-up test came back negative. (WCSC)
○ South Carolina is currently lacking a medical stockpile of resources like masks, gowns, and pharmaceuticals. Instead, most medical equipment being used by the state has come from a federal stockpile or donations. During a recent AccelerateSC meeting, committees recommended establishing a stockpile of 28 days worth of equipment. It would cost an estimated $16.7 million. (Charleston City Paper)
○ As of Sunday, there have been 617 reported cases of coronavirus in Charleston County. To see the breakdown of numbers by zip code and county, visit SCDHEC’s site here.
○ Stephen Colbert joined SCDHEC’s #StaySCStrong influencer campaign to encourage all SC residents to continue to do their part to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Through this initiative, Colbert + other fellow prominent South Carolinians are sharing educational video messages on steps residents can take to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. For more information about DHEC’s #StaySCStrong campaign and on how you can make + share your own video, visit the SCDHEC website.
○ CVS has opened 15 drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites across the state, including three locations in Charleston. The new sites will use self-swab testing that is monitored by a CVS team member to make sure it’s done correctly. The test will be available to those meeting the CDC criteria, and the state + age guidelines. The full lists of testing sites can be found here. (FOX Carolina)
○ Charleston Southern University has altered its Fall 2020 Academic Calendar in an effort to minimize the risks of additional waves of COVID-19 cases. The accelerated schedule begins earlier in August (Aug. 19) and eliminates Fall Break, providing a seven-week winter break (Nov. 25-Jan. 10) before students return for the spring semester.
○ After a month of serving COVID-19 patients in New York City, most of the seven members from the 315th Aerospace Medicine Squadron returned to Joint Base Charleston last week. Watch a clip of the first responders’ interviews upon their arrival back to SC here. (WCIV)
○ For the first time in its history, College of Charleston will be holding summer classes 100% online. Click here for a rundown of eight interesting courses being offered, and here to see all 389 summer sections. (WCIV)
○ South Carolina Advocates for Agriculture announced yesterday that they will buy food from SC farmers + distribute it to local food banks as part of a new charitable effort to ease COVID-19 strains on the food system. Through a partnership with Certified South Carolina, the initiative aims to support farmers by raising a goal of $500,000.
○ As of Tuesday, May 26, a total of 181,154 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in South Carolina (a combination of DHEC’s Public Health Lab and private labs).
○ As of Wednesday morning, South Carolina’s statewide hospital bed utilization rate was 68.36%. Of the 7,081 inpatient beds currently being used, 398 are occupied by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients.
○ There are currently 86 mobile testing events scheduled through July 2 across the state, with new events being added regularly. Additionally, there are currently 145 permanent testing facilities located throughout the state. Find a testing location near you here.
○ Mount Pleasant Town Hall (100 Ann Edwards Lane) will reopen to the public on Monday, June 1, with municipal court resuming June 2. Various measures – including plexiglass barriers, masks, limited room occupancy, social distancing, and sanitation procedures – have been put in place to ensure public health and safety. (The Post and Courier)
○ Early results of a South Carolina wide survey indicate that rural restaurants are feeling generally confident in continuing business in spite of the public health crisis, while restaurants in cities primarily supported by tourism, such as Charleston, are more concerned. Of the 150 respondents, 70% reported that they would be unable to reopen if there was a second wave of shutdowns due to the pandemic. Most respondents claimed they could last four to six more months with current conditions. Restaurant owners can participate in the survey here. (The Post & Courier)
○ The Coastal Conservation League announced that, through a new contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it has substantially increased its deliveries of fresh, local produce to families in need. The organization (in partnership with GrowFood Carolina, One80 Place, Enough Pie, and the Humanities Foundation) has been delivering 30-pound food boxes with a variety of seasonal produce since May 15. Thanks to the new contract, they will be able to deliver more than 1,000 more food boxes through June 30.
○ SCDMV branches have resumed driver skills tests, which were temporarily suspended due to COVID-19. The tests will be adjusted to maintain proper social distancing and safety measures. More info on new protocol here. (WCIV)
○ On Tuesday, SC’s Superintendent of Education, Molly Spearman, announced that $50 million in funds is needed for Academic Recovery Camps – summer programs aimed to aid students who have fallen behind due to COVID-19. An estimated 30,000 SC students will be participating in the specialized four-week program, and funding from AccelerateSC + the state legislature has been requested. (WCSC)
○ The number of unemployment claims in the state has decreased for the fifth consecutive week, according to data from the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. Over 500,000 claims have been filed since March 15. (CRBR)
○ Since March, local nonprofit Dorchester Seniors, Inc. has distributed 23,183 meals to seniors across Dorchester County. Mon.-Fri. of each week, seniors receive a hot meal + two additional meals for the weekend. They are also given essentials such as toiletries, paper products and non-perishable items via contactless delivery. For those who would like to volunteer with this program, click here. For those who would like to donate items, you can do so through Amazon Smile and Dorchester Seniors’ wish list.
○ On Sunday, positive numbers of coronavirus cases in SC surpassed 10,000, making it the 32nd state to reach this number. This past weekend was the first time the state has seen 200+ positive cases a day for three days in a row. (WCIV)
○ On Sun., May 31, The Blood Connection and MUSC Health will host a blood drive from 1-5 p.m. in the Antiques & Artisans Village parking lot (619 Old Trolley Rd., Summerville). Donors will also receive free COVID-19 antibody testing on site.
○ Last year, Charleston International Airport was seeing 17,000-19,000 travelers a day during Memorial Day weekend. Due to COVID-19, however, only 10% of those numbers were seen this year, at an average of 2,000 fliers a day coming through CHS this past weekend. While numbers are expected to rise to 50% by fall, the airport doesn’t expect as high capacity again until 2022. (WCSC)
○ Trident United Way’s COVID-19 Response Fund now has $425,000 in donations, which is the most money the organization has raised in a single event in its 75 years. Learn more + donate here. See additional local COVID-19 drives + fundraisers here. (The Berkeley Independent)
○ Between April and July, the SC Department of Transportation (SCDOT) expects to lose $78 million in revenue due to less people driving + buying cars during quarantine, which reduces the collection of gas and car sales taxes. To make sure this loss doesn’t impact highway construction projects, the DOT plans to cut expenses at the agency. (WCIV)
○ In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Henry McMaster announced that all SC public attraction facilities will be permitted to open beginning Friday, May 22. This includes entertainment facilities and tourist attractions from zoos to historic buildings + amusement parks to museums. Additionally, youth and adult sports leagues will be allowed to begin practicing on May 30 with competitive play resuming on June 15.
○ Uber has implemented a new safety policy to help protect drivers and passengers from coronavirus. All users must now wear face masks during rides + there is a ban on front-seat passengers. (USA Today)
○ On Wednesday, Joint Base Charleston delivered 50 ventilators to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. This delivery was the first step in the U.S. Agency for International Development’s mission to send 200 ventilators to Russia this month to help fight COVID-19. (WCIV)
○ After nine weeks of students learning from home, statistics show that nearly 5% of SC students (roughly 40,000 K-12 graders) have failed to turn in their work. While teachers + the community continue to do all they can to enhance virtual learning, here are some additional resources for parents and students to utilize during this time. (WCBD)
○ There is currently $132,099 in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) available through the CARES Act for nonprofit organizations who provide rental, mortgage, and utility assistance to households in the city of Charleston that have been affected by COVID-19. Nonprofits can request funding by contacting [email protected]. Applications are due to Trident United Way by June 1, and award notifications will be sent out mid-June. Any remaining money from the fund will be used to support those who are experiencing homelessness and have been affected by the pandemic.
○ Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill this week giving state legislators sole authority over how to spend $1.9 billion in coronavirus aid from the federal government. The bill also ensures that the state government will be able to keep running past June 30 (the beginning of the next fiscal year) without creating a new budget. Lawmakers now plan to draft the 2020-21 budget in September – with the idea they’ll have a better idea of the economic impact of the health crisis by that time. (The Post & Courier)
○ April Gilliard, a nurse from Charleston and the daughter of Rep. Wendell Gilliard, returned home this week after spending nearly two months helping treat COVID-19 patients at a hospital in New York City. Read more about her experience here. (WCBD)
○ Feeling anxious, bored + restless as a result of quarantine is normal. If you’re struggling with any of these, check out these 7 self care tips which can improve your personal wellness and, in turn, allow you to better care for those around you. Ⓟ
○ Harris Teeter announced it is offering free COVID-19 drive-thru testing three days a week from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Charleston Convention Center (5000 Coliseum Dr., North Charleston) through May 30 (with the exception of Memorial Day). You must make an appointment here prior to showing up for a test.
○ A new campaign called Growth Under Pressure was launched in Charleston this week to help provide support for charities and businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The initiative was launched by a local youth sports fundraising company called mPower6. You can learn more about participating organizations and donate here.
○ On Saturday, the Isle of Palms City Council held an emergency meeting regarding crowds + parking issues following the lifting of checkpoints along with the “exercise-only” rule. While no additional ordinances or rules were ordered, the town warned the public of additional police presence + safety measures, and the crowding was significantly lighter the following day. View the town’s rules + safety recommendations here. (WCIV)
○ Dorchester County offices + courts are now open to the public, and have several safety measures in place – including temperature checks and requiring the use of masks. The county highly recommends residents + business owners to continue utilizing online services, and convenience fees for certain transactions remain waived until further notice. Beginning May 27, the hours of 8:30-10 a.m. on Wednesdays will be reserved for seniors citizens.
○ Since the beginning of March, 498,989 South Carolina residents filed for unemployment – accounting for nearly 20% of SC’s workforce. However, with the reopening of businesses, the SC Department of Employment and Workforce saw a significant decrease in applications last week. (The Post and Courier)
○ Check out Explore Charleston’s updated list of openings – from hotels, attractions, retail + restaurants that are open for takeout, indoor and/or outdoor service.
○ The 2020 Cooper River Bridge Run has been canceled. Mayors John Tecklenburg and Will Haynie released the following statement announcing the decision late Friday: “Given the current circumstances related to COVID-19, we feel that it is time to cancel this year’s Cooper River Bridge Run. These are truly unprecedented times and, as the situation is constantly evolving, we believe that this decision is in the best interest of all our citizens and visitors. We are grateful to Cooper River Bridge Run leadership and staff for their partnership and guidance as we reached this tough decision and we look forward to working with them to make next year’s race the best one yet.”
○ Starting today, close contact service providers, fitness and exercise centers, commercial gyms, and public or commercial pools in South Carolina will be able to open in a limited capacity. Close contact service providers include barber shops, hair salons, waxing salons, threading salons, nail salons and spas, body-art facilities and tattoo services, tanning salons, massage-therapy establishments and massage services.
○ Publix supermarkets are now open daily from 7 a.m.-9 p.m., and the store’s pharmacies have resumed normal operating hours. The chain also announced that designated senior shopping hours and first responder / health care worker hours have been discontinued. (The Post & Courier)
○ The following Charleston County parks reopened over the weekend: Kiawah Beachwalker Park, Cooper River County Park, Folly Beach County Park, the Folly Beach Fishing Pier, Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve, McLeod Plantation Historic Site (self-guided tours only at this time), and SK8 Charleston. Find a full list of open county parks here.
○ Looking for a new position in the life sciences? A new job board matches employees displaced due to COVID-19 with life sciences companies that are hiring right now. Companies can post positions on the board at no cost. Check it out here.
○ Charleston Southern University announced four areas of financial assistance for residential and commuter students experiencing financial strain due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Relief includes room and board rebates, CARES Act student grants, and the establishment of a COVID-19 student relief fund. Learn more about each here.
○ Charleston Southern University announced it will reopen its campus in August for the beginning of the fall semester. Reopening plans + updates can be found here.
○ Any graduates who don’t have plans to wear their gown this year can repurpose the garment by donating it to Gowns4Good. Donors can choose what facility they would like to send the gown to. More than 5,100 gowns have been donated so far. (The State)
○ A free public webinar will be held on May 19 featuring four SC healthcare leaders who will discuss how our state’s health systems have responded to COVID-19 + what the future of healthcare looks like in South Carolina. The event will be moderated by Sam Konduros, CEO + President of SCBIO. Click here to register for the event.
○ South Carolina Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is offering $25 vouchers to low-income senior citizens. The vouchers are for purchasing fresh locally grown fruits + vegetables from authorized farmers this summer. Visit SC DSS to complete an online application now through May 25. Vouchers will be distributed at a later date and used this summer.
○ Since the launch of the second round of Payment Protection Program (PPP) on April 27, South Carolina businesses have claimed $2 billion in federal funding. The number of approved loans in SC increased by 10,000, going from 23,000 in the first round to 33,000. However, this decreased loan amount from an average of $166,000/person to $61,000/person. (The Post and Courier)
○ On Wednesday, Gov. Henry McMaster once again extended the State of Emergency in South Carolina. The order – which is in effect for the next 15 days – keeps protective measures in place, including price gouging laws and the activation of the SC National Guard. (WCBD)
○ Sullivan’s Island leaders voted this week to remove checkpoints from the island. While non-residents can now access the island, there remains a “keep moving” rule in place on the beach. That means chairs, umbrellas, coolers, and groups of more than 3 people (unless exercise related) remain prohibited. (WCSC)
○ Joint Base Charleston will honor frontline workers with a flyover on Friday at 11 a.m. Two military aircraft are expected to pass over the Ravenel Bridge as well as several local hospitals (MUSC Health, Roper Hospital, the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center and East Cooper Medical Center). Officials say the flyover is part of pilots’ regularly scheduled training, and will not cost the taxpayers any additional money. (WCIV)
○ In a senate hearing this week, top US health official Dr. Anthony Fauci praised South Carolina’s response to the pandemic. Explore Charleston CEO Helen Hill also testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, noting through written testimony that the pandemic has resulted in a 70% decline in the Charleston region’s tourism economy. (WBTW)
○ Veteran health care attorneys Matthew B. Roberts and Darra James Coleman, alongside former reporter Heather Matthews, have launched a new weekly podcast. “The Pulse Healthcast” will feature conversations about the impact COVID-19 has on the healthcare industry. Listen to the first episode here.
○ Local hydroponic produce grower Vertical Roots has hired about two dozen displaced food + bev workers since the pandemic began. The owners say they expect most of the new hires to return to their previous employers when restaurants reopen. (Charleston City Paper)
○ The Citadel announced it will reopen its campus in August for the beginning of the fall semester. It is the first local college to announce concrete plans for the start of the academic year. (CRBJ)
○ South Carolina was ranked 9th on WalletHub’s list of states with a population most vulnerable to COVID-19. Data was pulled and analyzed from each state’s population in three categories: medical vulnerability, housing vulnerability, and financial vulnerability. (Holy City Sinner)
○ A new social media strategy is being used by artists all over the world to help support one another during the pandemic. Recently, artists have been using the hashtag “#ArtistSupportPledge” on photos of their work to sell their art discounted (under $200), and pledge to buy another artist’s piece once they earn a certain commission. Local artists Susan Irish + Rick Sharp are among those participating. (The Post and Courier)
○ Due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, there is a desperate need for O Negative blood. If you’re an eligible donor, consider donating with The Blood Connection at their Charleston center. Make an appointment online or by texting “ONENEGATIVE” to 70547. Ⓟ
○ Creating a safe environment in stores for both hosts + guests is a top priority at Lowes Foods. The company is now requiring all staff to wear masks and asks customers to do the same while shopping. Ⓟ
○ DHEC announced Monday that it is expanding its contact tracing, and has identified more than 1,800 contact tracers so far. The department has increased its number of staff working on contact tracing from 20 to 400, and is working with two private staffing companies to assist with the initiative.
○ Gov. Henry McMaster announced Monday that close contact service providers, fitness and exercise centers, commercial gyms, and public or commercial pools will be able to open in a limited capacity beginning Monday, May 18. Close contact service providers include barber shops, hair salons, waxing salons, threading salons, nail salons and spas, body-art facilities and tattoo services, tanning salons, massage-therapy establishments and massage services.
○ As a *healthy* reminder, MUSC Health offers virtual visits to allow patients to meet with doctors and providers without having to leave their homes. Schedule an appointment through the virtual care network and see your doctor using your computer, tablet, or mobile phone. Ⓟ
○ The city of North Charleston has resumed normal operations, and the public will be able to once again be allowed access into North Charleston City Hall beginning Wednesday, with strict guidelines in place. Citizens are still encouraged to interact with city departments and employees online or by phone.
○ DHEC is partnering with local organizations to launch free COVID-10 mobile and pop-up testing clinics around the state. These sites are scheduled around Charleston County: May 12 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Johns Island Regional Library (3531 Maybank Hwy, Johns Island); May 13 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., St. James AME Church (5305 Maybank Hwy, Wadmalaw Island); May 14 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Azalea Drive Church of Christ (3950 Azalea Dr., North Charleston); and May 15 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Life Center Cathedral ( 7190 Cross County Rd., North Charleston). More details.
○ The Blood Connection is now offering free COVID-19 antibody testing. The test samples each donor’s blood to see if it contains COVID-19 antibodies, and will be available at all Blood Connection donation centers across SC at no cost. Appointments are encouraged. More information here.
○ TechSC and SC Cyber launched a new online resume database to connect tech workers in SC with companies that are hiring now. Tech professionals can upload their resume to the bank for free here. (Metro Columbia CEO)
○ The One Region re|IGNITE plan for reopening the economy is now available to view online. Review the plan guidelines here.
○ Governor Henry McMaster announced on Friday that restaurants will be allowed to reopen for limited dine-in services beginning today. Recommended guidelines include allowing 50% occupancy inside, distancing tables 6-8 feet apart + giving all employees regular health checks. A full list of the new guidelines can be found here.
○ Gov. McMaster also announced that he would be lifting all remaining restrictions on boating in the state, effective immediately.
○ In the same press conference, Gov. McMaster also stated he hopes to have a decision on the reopening of personal services + businesses, like nail and hair salons, today.
○ This Wednesday, Charleston County government offices + buildings will resume public access between the hours of 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Citizens can continue to receive online services here. (Holy City Sinner)
○ Charleston County Public Library announced its phased reopening plan, which includes accepting returns starting Mon., May 18. Limited in-person services are scheduled to begin on Mon., June 8. (Holy City Sinner)
○ Here is a list of Charleston restaurants that have opening patio dining to the public. (WCSC)
○ With businesses + restaurants beginning to slowly open back up, check out these easy DIY face masks you can make in under five minutes to keep yourself safe from germs while out and about.
○ Beginning last Friday, Charleston County reopened the following parks: Caw Caw Interpretive Center, James Island County Park, Johns Island County Park, Palmetto Islands County Park, the Mount Pleasant Pier (no fishing allowed), and Wannamaker County Park. Click here for the full list of county parks that have opened, as well as those that remain closed for the time being.
○ 45,000+ unemployment claims were filed in South Carolina last week, marking the third straight week that unemployment claims have decreased. Since March 15, the SC Department of Employment and Workforce has distributed more than $831 million in unemployment assistance. (WCBD)
○ Richland County became the first county in South Carolina to surpass 1,000 cases of COVID-19. On Wednesday, DHEC reported the Midlands county had 1,016 known cases, and an estimated that there’s another 6,229 untested cases. (The State)
○ Local brewers have expressed worry that they will soon have to start dumping full kegs of beer, which is going stale due to the sharp decrease in keg sales as a result of limited operations. Brewers are advocating for lawmakers to change the rules in South Carolina to make way for new ways to sell – including home delivery and selling kegs directly to individuals. (The Post & Courier)
○ On the bright side of that news: Palmetto Brewing and High Wire Distilling Company announced a new collaboration this week that will allow that surplus beer to be processed into hand sanitizer for local distribution. Palmetto donated more than 100 barrels to their neighbor, High Wire, which then used its equipment to evaporate the alcohol from the beer, and mixed it with glycerin and hydrogen peroxide to make a hand sanitizer solution. So far, the hand sanitizer has already been distributed to several fire houses around Charleston.
○ College of Charleston Professor Grant Gilmore took action when he heard about the shortages of personal protective equipment impacting healthcare workers. Using a 3D printer and collaborating with MUSC Health, Gilmore printed a mask that can be sanitized + reused up to 20 times. Learn more about the ongoing project. Ⓟ
○ Starting today, checkpoints will be removed from Isle of Palms, opening the island back up to non-residents. However, the beach will be open only for active recreational activities (running, walking, dog-walking, biking, and surfing) – in other words, you can’t hang out in the sand with a beach chair and a cooler just yet. Groups of more than three people are not allowed. (Island Eye News)
○ Sullivan’s Island reduced its checkpoints so that they are effective between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, effective now. Previously, checkpoints were in place between 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
○ The South Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Administration says it is currently investigating nearly 100 complaints related to the coronavirus. The complaints, which date back to mid-March, include accusations of inadequate personal protective equipment, colleagues continuing to work while displaying symptoms of coronavirus, and violations of social distancing guidelines. (CRBJ)
○ The South Carolina African American Heritage Commission is inviting African Americans to share their testimonies, art, and more relating to the coronavirus pandemic as part of a new project called “Black Carolinians Speak: Portrait of a Pandemic.” Learn more about what the organization is looking for + how to submit here. (WCSC)
○ Charleston-based esthetician Liz Munn launched a new product called The Facial Guardian – a physical barrier and sanitation system that can provide an added layer of safety for fellow skin care specialists and their clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. The device costs $375 and includes a lightweight, shatterproof barrier; a steam cleaner; and a microfiber towel. Find it on her website as well as on Amazon.
○ A new company called Tip Jar Masks is selling cloth face masks online – with the added incentive that $3 from each sale will be donated to virtual tip jars in support of furloughed restaurant and hospitality employees. One of the featured virtual tip jars is the Charleston-based one created by Holy City Sinner. (Holy City Sinner)
○ The fight against COVID-19 isn’t limited to hospitals. Home healthcare nurses, like Tiffany Redders with Roper St. Francis Healthcare, are traveling to treat high-risk patients who are more likely to contract the virus if they leave their homes. Here are their stories. Ⓟ
○ The Post and Courier began a tribute series honoring South Carolina residents that have died due to COVID-19 by sharing their stories and legacies. Read the first installment here, and the second here. If you have lost someone to the virus, you can share their story here.
○ On Sunday, Boeing employees began coming back to work at the North Charleston plant after operations temporarily ceased in April. Personal protective equipment + increased safety measures have been implemented throughout the facility, and social distancing protocol will be followed. (WCBD)
○ As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Booz Allen Foundation has created the Innovation Fund. Up to $1 million in grants will be awarded to those who apply with ideas + solutions to combat the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications for this grant funding will be accepted now through June 5. More info here.
○ Rep. JA Moore – professional chef and a member of the SC State Legislature – is preparing + delivering meals to members of the community and frontline workers. For every lunch box that is ordered, a snack box will be delivered to a first responder working to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Learn more and order here.
○ Little by little, businesses + restaurants are beginning to open up and resume operation. If you choose to go out, be sure to catch up on CDC-recommended rules and guidelines on social distancing – including limited group size and remaining six feet apart.
○ More than 28,000 small businesses across South Carolina were approved for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans from the federal government. An estimated $1.8 billion will be issued to these businesses statewide. (Greenville News)
○ Gov. Henry McMaster lifted the statewide ‘work or home’ order, effective Monday. Also starting today, restaurants are able to resume outdoor dining service in addition to existing curbside, takeout, and delivery services. More details here.
○ As of May 1, most Charleston city parks are back open. Demetre Park (aka Sunrise Park) on James Island will remain closed, and the Municipal Golf Course is closed for renovations. All indoor recreation facilities remain closed, and those who visit city parks will continue to be barred from gathering in large groups.
○ State leaders have extended the halt on eviction proceedings and foreclosures through May 15. However, renters who do not pay rent during this time could still be subject to penalties or eviction at a later date. (The State)
○ Starting today, Costco will require that customers wear a mask or covering that protects their nose and mouths. The wholesaler asks shoppers to continue to maintain social distancing in addition to the new regulation. (WCBD)
○ On Saturday, May 9, Charleston Southern University will host a virtual commencement ceremony at the same time of the originally planned graduation. CSU leaders also plan to host an in-person celebration for the Class of 2020 later this year.
○ Tomorrow night (Tues., May 5) is the final night to catch a parade of Charleston first responders, who will ride through MUSC Health’s campus (with lights flashing) from 6:45-7:15 p.m. to honor healthcare heroes on the frontlines. Ⓟ
○ Four Charleston County Parks – Laurel Hill County Park (Mount Pleasant), Meggett County Park, North Charleston Wannamaker North Trail + Stono River County Park (West Ashley) – will reopen today. Visitors must follow social distancing protocol. More info + updates on future park reopenings here.
○ After securing a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan for small businesses, Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar was able to bring back 130 furloughed employees to work this week. If you are a small business interested in a PPP loan or an individual seeking a job, check out this list of resources that can help.
○ In a study of small metropolitan areas + rural counties that could see a spike in positive COVID-19 cases, Charleston County was ranked no. 2. Read more on the factors + conclusions here, and keep up with the latest coronavirus data by county here. (WCIV)
○ All South Carolina Walmart associates received a bonus this week, adding up to $3.4 million statewide. In all, Walmart gave associates $180 million in bonuses nationwide as of Thursday. Learn more about the company’s initiatives during the pandemic here.
○ Johns Island’s life sciences start-up company Okra Medical donated nearly 100,000 face masks to eight local hospitals and one pediatric group – most of which are small enough for children + young adults.
○ As of Tuesday, there were 441 reported cases of coronavirus in Charleston County. DHEC estimates that there could actually be around 3,150 cases in the county, based on evidence that for every known case of COVID-19, there could be up to 9 people in the community who have the virus but remain unknown.
○ Isle of Palms leaders voted to extend restricted access to the island through May 12. Beginning this Friday, May 1, checkpoints will be in place to restrict non-resident travel onto the island during the hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The current ordinance, which is set to expire today, restricts access between the hours of 7 a.m.-7 p.m. (Moultrie News)
○ The Charleston Chapter of Les Dames D’Escoffier (LDEI) announced the launch of Vital Hospitality CHS, a fundraising and service program for COVID-19 recovery. Donations, which are accepted through its GoFundMe page, will be used to purchase meals from local businesses that are then distributed to healthcare workers. On average, $10 covers the purchase of one individually wrapped meal and its delivery, and $200 covers lunch or dinner for an entire hospital department.
○ Data marketing website Uncast created a “Social Distancing Scoreboard” that grades every state on their adherence to social distancing guidelines – and South Carolina got an “F”. In its county-by-county breakdown, Charleston County received a “D-”.
○ Beginning Mon., May 4, all JetBlue airline passengers will be required to wear a face mask or covering, a policy previously reserved for crew members. It is the first major U.S. airline to make this type of requirement. (The New York Times)
○ Fleet Feet is accepting nominations for its “Community Champions” award, which recognizes people in the community who have gone above and beyond during the COVID-19 crisis. Each week, a new round of winners will be announced + will be awarded a pair of Hoka shoes. Check out the first round of winners here and nominate someone you know here.
○ Read how Hamby Catering and Events has shifted its business model to adapt to the drastic impacts COVID-19 has had on the hospitality industry – and find out how you can share your own story with us – here. ○ South Carolina ranked 47th on WalletHub’s list of States Offering the Most Coronavirus Support. Factors include whether states will offer a free COVID-19 vaccine once it exists, whether they have adopted long-distance healthcare technology, coronavirus relief funds per capita + number of households in poverty receiving assistance. Massachusetts ranked most supportive, and North Carolina ranked least supportive. (WalletHub)
○ This Friday, around 40 of Mount Pleasant’s public parks will reopen after an 8-1 vote on Monday. Social distancing rules must be followed in these areas, including limiting group size to a maximum of three people, and will be monitored by staff + law enforcement. Organized events in these spaces are still prohibited. (WCSC)
○ Avocet Hospitality Group, which owns + operates The Vendue, Tides Folly Beach, Blu Beach Bar & Grill, + Pier 101 Restaurant & Bar, plans to bring 100+ of its furloughed employees back to work today. The staff, a majority of which were furloughed March 16, will be completing online training in preparation for the reopening of hotels + restaurants. (CRBJ)
○ SCDHEC is distributing rapid-testing devices + testing supplies to areas of the state where testing for COVID-19 may be limited. SC received 15 FDA-approved Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 testing devices from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) last week, which were distributed to 15 healthcare centers across the state. On Tuesday, the agency distributed additional testing supplies to those facilities, including Al Cannon Detention Center in Charleston County.
○ Upscale restaurant Parcel 32 (442 King St.) is the first of Charleston’s restaurants to announce that it will not reopen for service following the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the space will be used as an event venue under Patrick Properties Hospitality Group. The group’s first priority is to host weddings that may have been cancelled or rescheduled because of the virus. (The Post and Courier)
○ Also on Monday, SC Gov. Henry McMaster declared an extended state of emergency. The prolonged declaration will allow for the state’s response to COVID-19 – including testing, prevention, and economic relief efforts – to continue.
○ The Small Business Administration is once again accepting Paycheck Protection Program applications from participating lenders. The funding is once again limited, and expected to be fully claimed soon. Click here for more information, via Lowcountry Local First.
○ Are you planning to reopen your business during the pandemic? Check out this guidance from DHEC on how to ensure you are able to operate safely.
○ The City of North Charleston resumed its regular schedule for garbage, trash and yard debris pick-up this week. Previously, trash and yard debris were being picked up on a bi-weekly basis.
○ Last week, the CDC issued new guidance to help reduce the spread of coronavirus between people with pets. Recommendations include the following: do not let your pets interact with people not in your household, keep cats indoors if possible, and avoid dog parks. While domestic pets are not known to transmit coronavirus, there is a possibility that the virus can survive on animals’ fur for up to a few hours.
○ The Fort Sullivan chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) has sewn and donated over 765 masks and mask extenders to East Cooper Medical Center, Roper St. Francis, the USS Charleston, local businesses and nursing homes, and other friends and family in need. Those interested in making a donation of their own should reach out to the Volunteer Service Office of the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center.
○ For information about Roper St. Francis visitor policies, donations, and other COVID-19 updates, check their dedicated Coronavirus page. Ⓟ○ As of Friday, DHEC estimates that 73% of coronavirus patients have recovered from the virus, while 27% remain sick. DHEC will be updating recovery numbers on its website every Tuesday + Friday.
○ On Sunday, 1.3 million surgical face masks were delivered from China to South Carolina by a Boeing Dreamlifter. The Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) will be distributed to healthcare workers across the state – 10,000 of which are going to MUSC Health. (The State)
○ On Friday, the President signed a new $500 billion infusion of relief spending to help support small businesses, banks + hospitals across the country. The bill passed Congress almost unanimously and allocates an additional $250 billion to replenish PPP loans, as well as $60 billion for additional small business disaster funds. (WCSC)
○ WalletHub ranked South Carolina no. 12 amongst the top 15 states in the country with the biggest increases in unemployment due to coronavirus since the start of the crisis. SC’s neighbors, North Carolina + Georgia, ranked 5 and 3, respectively. (WalletHub)
○ North Charleston’s Northwoods Mall is aiming to reopen to the public May 1, following Gov. Henry McMaster’s announcement of certain businesses being allowed to reopen. Safety measures are being taken such as closing the food court seating area + prohibiting gatherings of 10+ people in common areas, and social distancing rules are to be followed. (WCIV)
○ The City of Charleston launched a new initiative called One Charleston to raise spirits during social distancing. Its website and social media pages provide information and resources designed to educate and entertain. It also shares health and wellness opportunities that Charlestonians are able to enjoy while at home.
○ In response to Governor Henry McMaster’s order to allow retail establishments to re-open, the City of Charleston passed an emergency ordinance imposing health and safety guidelines for those businesses to follow if they opt to open during this time. Rules include occupancy limits, social distancing policies, employee monitoring, cleaning protocols, and more. View the complete ordinance here.
○ Booz Allen Hamilton is donating $50,000 to the Lowcountry Food Bank to help support COVID-19 relief efforts. The contribution comes from a $100 million program launched by the IT company, which includes support for its employees (like increased benefits, public service leave, and a job security pledge through July 1) and donations to area nonprofit organizations. (CRBJ)
○ Beginning Saturday, April 25, the town of Summerville will host an Essential Goods Farmers Market in place of the Summerville Farmers Market. It will take place every Saturday from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. in the town hall parking lot. Find our complete list of local produce + grocery offerings here.
○ Walmart launched a new “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” program in partnership with Nextdoor. Nextdoor members around the country can either request shopping assistance or offer to help someone in their community shop for essential items at Walmart stores.
○ On Wednesday, the Town of Edisto Beach announced that short + long term rentals will be permitted beginning May 15. Rentals previously booked will be allowed starting May 8 – the same day that beach access will be granted for residents, lease owners and property owners. A 24-hour checkpoint will remain in place, and social distancing rules will apply to all public spaces. (WCIV)
○ The Heartland Health and Rehabilitation Care Center in Hanahan has the most positive cases of COVID-19 of all South Carolina nursing homes with a total of 57 cases. The center is now taking precautionary steps eliminating group activities and restricting visitors, which was mandated by Gov. McMaster on March 13. (WCSC)
○ Staying active on foot + bikes with parks closed and social distancing rules in place can be difficult. This petition was created to request support from Mayor Tecklenburg and the Charleston City Council in designating specific streets as pedestrian + bike lanes only, by closing some segments to vehicle traffic which will result in more open space. Learn more here.
○ Employees of Boeing SC donated $10,000 to the Lowcountry Food Bank to help support hunger-relief efforts in response to COVID-19. The money is being donated through The Employees Community Fund of Boeing, which is made up of donations from members of the Boeing team. (WCIV)
○ South Carolina State Treasurer Curtis Loftis is sharing his tips for maintaining good financial habits during COVID-19. Check them out here. (Metro Columbia CEO)
○ Gov. McMaster announced the creation of accelerateSC. This volunteer organization led by appointed executive director James Burns, a partner at a Columbia law firm, will work to “identify issues, solutions, and assets necessary for a phased revitalization path for South Carolina’s economy, guided by healthcare and medical data.” (WYFF 4)
○ The Folly Beach Association of Business (FAB) launched a GoFundMe campaign to assist employees of Folly Beach businesses who have been out of work since the beach was closed due to COVID-19. The fund, which started with $1,000, will help cover medical expenses, rent, and utility bills. Learn more + donate here. Folly Beach employees seeking assistance can apply here.
○ On Thursday (4/16) afternoon, Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order that all public SC boat ramps + landings are to reopen at noon Friday (4/17). Social distancing rules will still apply to those areas. (WCSC)
○ Firefly Distillery (4201 Spruill Ave., North Charleston) is now creating + bottling hand sanitizer. Beginning today, people can pick up one half-gallon bottle for $25 while supplies last. Bottles will also go to hospitals, military + state departments.
○ South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson says his office is currently reviewing 650+ price gouging complaints. The most common reports are for products like hand sanitizing products, toilet paper, face masks, and food. (WCIV)
○ 65% percent of S.C. breweries that say they’ll only be able to stay open 1-3 months without financial relief from the downturn caused by COVID-19, according to an internal survey from the South Carolina Brewers’ Guild. (WCIV)
○ City of Charleston crews have installed automated pedestrian crossing signals near essential service areas so that pedestrians can safely cross the street without touching the signal push buttons. The touch-free devices were implemented as a way to combat potential spread of COVID-19.
○ Charleston Moves is interested in learning more about mobility trends during the pandemic. If you’re a Charleston County resident, you can help out by filling out this short survey regarding your current walking and biking habits.
○ Members of the robotics team at West Ashley High School are helping create face masks for MUSC using their 3D printers at home. The additional student effort speeds up the production process, making the team closer to its goal of producing 24 masks in 24 hours.
○ South Carolina ranked 5th on Wallet Hub’s list of states with the most small businesses affected by the coronavirus. Rankings were based on the percentage of small businesses in high-risk industries, credit conditions and more. Hawaii ranked first and Washington, D.C. ranked last.
○ Through June 1, BlueCross BlueShield of SC and BlueChoice Healthplan will waive out-of-pocket healthcare costs related to COVID-19, including past authorizations. The insurers are also offering telehealth services and behavior health consultations. (CRBJ Biz Wire)
○ Charleston Mix launched a “Tips for Tips” program, which is a virtual series featuring bartenders creating their own version of Bloody Marys – the popular mix the brand is known for. They will be giving $100 to each participating bartender, whose Venmo information will be shared for additional tips to be donated. (Holy City Sinner)
○ The SC State Guard and MUSC Health teamed up to convert a campus fitness center into a 250-bed field hospital for recovering coronavirus patients. (WCBD)
○ City of Charleston leaders passed a temporary ordinance to allow meetings to be conducted virtually. City Council, board and commissions meetings will be held via Zoom + streamed for the public’s viewing via the city’s social media channels. (WCBD)
○ MUSC Health announced it is temporarily laying off about 900 workers and cutting salaries for other workers by around 15-20% due to financial strain from COVID-19. Read the full statement here.
○ Boeing is temporarily donating three of its Dreamlifters – massive cargo planes that are ordinarily used to transport parts used to build 787 Dreamliners – to the federal government to help transport COVID-19 supplies. (Business Insider)
○ Airlines are beginning to cap passenger capacity at lower numbers in the midst of COVID-19. Over the next few months, major airlines Southwest, Delta, American, United + JetBlue will cut capacity on domestic flights 40%-80%, and up to 90% on international flights. More details here. (WCIV)
○ Because of a nationwide order from the Pentagon announced by the Department of Defense on Monday, SC military bases will no longer publicly announce positive cases of COVID-19 at their facilities. (The Post and Courier)
○ MUSC Health is teaming up with the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Guard to build a MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) facility with 270 beds in order to accommodate more patients. (WCBD)
○ President Trump extended the period of voluntary social distancing nationwide through April 30. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has not called for a mandatory statewide shutdown at this time – but Charleston and Columbia are both currently under citywide ‘stay at home’ ordinances, and Greenville leaders are expected to vote on their own mandate today. (WCBD)
Scheduling Changes + Closures
○ College and professional sporting events (via CBS Sports)
○ South Carolina colleges and universities (via WCSC)
○ Local events (via WCSC)
○ The South Carolina Aquarium announced that it will be closed through April 30. While visitors can’t come to the physical location, all are welcome to tune into Facebook live virtual tours every weekday at 10 a.m. + 2 p.m.
○ SC Gov. Henry McMaster announced that the order that required SC public beaches to close (made on March 30) will no longer be in effect . The decision to reopen beaches will ultimately fall on local mayors + government, and Charleston beaches – including Folly Beach and Isle of Palms – have decided to remain closed. Social distancing rules at open beaches remain in place. (WCSC)
○ For the first time in its history, Spoleto Festival USA has been canceled. Event organizers say they’re working on developing virtual offerings – including streaming performances from years past. Those who already purchased tickets can opt to either receive a refund, get credit toward future purchases, or donate the value of their ticket to the festival. (Charleston City Paper)
○ The 2020 Olympics set to be held in Tokyo beginning July 24 will be suspended + might not take place until 2021. This is the first time in history the Olympics will be postponed; before, the Olympics has only been cancelled three times: once during WWI and twice during WWII. (WCBD)
○ The deadline to get a Real ID has been postponed because of coronavirus concerns and the danger of overcrowding at DMVs. The ID will eventually be required to board domestic flights. Oct. 1 was the original deadline; there’s no official word on the new date.
○ Firefly Distillery (4201 Spruill Ave, North Charleston) has postponed its grand opening celebration, which was scheduled to take place on May 2. A new date has not been announced.
○ On May 1, South Carolina State Parks will reopen with some limitations. Group facilities will remain closed + parks will limit the number of visitors to ensure social distancing. (WCIV)
○ The Charleston County School District announced its high school principals are planning virtual graduation ceremonies. Though they haven’t made an official call as to whether or not in-person events will go on, district officials say they are preparing the backup plans knowing that it’s unlikely large gatherings will be able to be held. (WCSC)
○ Beginning Monday, April 20, the city of Charleston will resume its normal trash collection (yard debris and bulk items) routes. A higher volume of trash is anticipated, so officials say it could take two to three weeks to get everything collected. Garbage collection (green cart pick-up) will continue on schedule, but any excess items that do not fit inside the bin will not be picked up to minimize crews’ potential exposure to COVID-19. Those excess items can still be dropped off at a Charleston County Convenience Center.
○ In an announcement yesterday morning, Gov. Henry McMaster and SC Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced that South Carolina K-12 schools will not reopen for the remainder of the school year. Both officials encouraged flexibility in working with students who need extra assistance + creative graduation ceremonies.
○ The Charleston Symphony has postponed or cancelled all remaining performances for the 2019-20 season. You can continue to enjoy free virtual performances through the Charleston Symphony Channel.
○ The 2020 season of both the Charleston Farmers Market in Marion Square as well as the West Ashley Farmers Market in Ackerman Park have been suspended until further notice.
○ Due to coronavirus concerns, Charleston Stage is delaying its 43rd season – originally opening Aug. 26 – until January 2021. In the meantime, the theater company is asking for community support following a massive budget cut. (Charleston City Paper)
○ Dorchester School District 2 has cancelled several summer events amid the pandemic. See cancelled camps + programs here. (WCIV)
Community Resources + Support
○ Restaurants offering curbside takeout + delivery (CHStoday)
○ Local fundraisers + drives (CHStoday)
○ Local, virtual events (CHStoday)
○ Mental health management tips + resources (CHStoday)
○ One Charleston, launched by the City of Charleston, provides information and resources designed to educate and entertain. It also shares health and wellness opportunities that Charlestonians are able to enjoy while at home.
○ The city of Charleston created an online dashboard showing the latest DHEC test result numbers. It also includes a map of local hospitals and COVID-19 testing sites.
○ Berkeley County is operating a new Citizens Information Line that people can call to ask non-emergency questions related to COVID-19. The number is 843-719-4800 and it is open daily from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Residents should continue to call 911 for emergencies. (Summerville Journal Scene)
○ Charleston County is encouraging the community to sign up for the Smart911 – a free national safety profile registry that allows individual families to provide critical medical information to first responders. Learn more here. (Holy City Sinner)
○ Lowcountry Local First put together a huge list of local businesses you can support right now. It includes restaurants offering curbside pickup + delivery, virtual art + experiences, gift cards, virtual in-store shopping, virtual services, and online shopping.
○ Women Entrepreneurs Inc. launched a Gift Card Marketplace featuring discounted digital vouchers from local women-owned businesses that can be bought today and redeemed up to 1 year later.
○ Here’s a list of Internet service providers that are temporarily waiving data overage fees. In addition to lifting its data caps, Comcast has also made all of its Xfinity WiFi hotspots free to everyone, including those who aren’t customers. Find a hotspot near you here. (PC World)
○ Temporary e-cards for Charleston County Public Library branches are now available for Charleston residents who wish to access digital materials including books, virtual programs, music, TV, the New York Times + more. Apply for a card here. (Holy City Sinner)
○ Charleston County Public Library will be offering free WiFi access outside of all branches for those who do not have Internet access at home, which will be available from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. CCPL asks for those using WiFi to stay in their cars. Note: The Folly Beach branch (55 Center St.) will not offer free WiFi, and the Sullivan’s Island branch (1921 Ion Ave.) will be accessible only for residents. (Holy City Sinner)
○ Citibot app is now available to Charleston citizens, giving them a new way to report issues to municipal officials. Read more.
○ Charleston Animal Society is urging pet owners to create an emergency plan ASAP in case you or a loved one becomes sick. The plan involves stocking up on one month’s worth of food and medicine; finding a friend, family member or neighbor who could watch your pet if needed; and making sure you have your pet’s medical records on hand. Watch this video for more information.
○ Starting this week, South Carolina WIC recipients will have more purchasing options for milk, yogurt, fruits + vegetables in response to demand for more nutritional choices. DHEC encourages SC families who are experiencing loss of income related to COVID-19 to apply to the WIC program by calling 1-855-472-3432 to make an appointment. More information here.
○ Benefitfocus recently launched “For You SC” – an initiative that offers health + life insurance, financial services and various benefits to SC residents that have been economically impacted by COVID-19. Learn more + see eligibility here.
○ The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs added an additional $1.5 million into its Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) grant award to One80 Place. Through these funds, One80 Place will seek to help even more veterans who are in danger of losing their housing or are currently homeless, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are a veteran or know a veteran located in the Lowcountry who is in need of rental or utility assistance or is homeless, call 843-212-8668.
○ Pay It Forward and Feed the Need are partnering with Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach and Tricounty Family Ministries to expand distribution of weekly grocery bags of fresh produce to restaurant workers and other community members who have been hit hard by COVID-19. Service times are as follows: The Outreach (1864 Brownswood Rd., Johns Island), Mon.-Thurs. 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.; Neighborhood House (79 America St.), Mon.-Thurs. 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.; and Tricounty Family Ministries (2105 Cosgrove Ave., North Charleston), Weds. 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
○ Want additional information on COVID-19 stats? SCDHEC’s website offers various resources including a breakdown of positive coronavirus cases by counties and zip codes, visual charts, 14- and 28-day trends, percentage of hospital resource use, additional test numbers + more.
○ North Charleston medical center NasonCare (2233 Northwoods Blvd.; across the street from Northwoods Mall) is offering free COVID-19 antibody testing between 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily. To reserve an appointment, call (843)-773-9903. (Lowcountry Source)
Business and Employment Resources
○ 10+ companies that are hiring around Charleston ASAP (CHStoday)
○ Lowcountry Local First created free social media graphics for local businesses to use for sharing the services they are offering right now.
○ The SC Department of Employment and Workforce has created a new online hub with resources for workers whose employment has been affected by COVID-19.
○ If you are out of work due to the pandemic, you can use this link to file for unemployment.
○ Webinar on how to take your expertise online with Donna Ashton
○ Lisa Bayorek with Macaroni Kid will include your business in their resource guide. Read more.
○ Palmetto Goodwill has a new virtual call center for connecting people with job opportunities. It operates 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Call Palmetto Goodwill at 843-566-0072 or visit their website for more information.
○ Blackbaud announced the launch of new technology geared towards helping cultural organizations (such as aquariums, gardens, museums and zoos) enhance their virtual presence, both during the pandemic and in its aftermath.
○ Gotcha Mobility launched “Gotcha TO GO” – a service that can be utilized to complete deliveries. Restaurants, grocery stores + other local businesses can rent scooters or e-bikes for $15/day to deliver goods to customers, eliminating third-party vendor fees. Goods can be ordered from participating restaurants and stores directly through the Gotcha Mobility app available in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
○ In response to Governor Henry McMaster’s order to allow retail establishments to re-open, the City of Charleston passed an emergency ordinance imposing health and safety guidelines for those businesses to follow if they opt to open during this time. Rules include occupancy limits, social distancing policies, employee monitoring, cleaning protocols, and more. View the complete ordinance here.
○ Starting April 13 SC Women, Infant and Children participants will no longer be required to visit WIC clinics. Appointments and the issuance of nutritional services will instead be made over the phone. More info here.
○ Business owners should be on the lookout for attempted fraud. Scammers have been attempting to take advantage of the COVID-19 outbreak, and have reportedly been reaching out to businesses while posing as representatives of Dominion Energy. (CRBJ)
○ SC Gov. Henry McMaster issued Executive Order 2020-22, which allows furloughed employees to receive “COVID-19 Support Payments” from their employers and still qualify for unemployment benefits.
○ Benefitfocus has activated the next phase of its “For You” initiative that supports employees of customers who have lost their jobs amid the pandemic. Its newly launched website, “Benefitplace”, offers a variety of affordable individual + family health plans for employees who have been offered COBRA by their employers and are seeking lower-cost alternatives, as well as a variety of other products and services to support displaced workers. Learn more here.
○ Walmart recently announced that by the end of May, the company plans to have hired 15,000+ new associates at stores across America. The company has seen over 1 million applicants since this announcement, and is averaging 5,000 new hires per day. Reaching its goal six weeks ahead of schedule, the company announced a new commitment to hire an additional 50,000 associates. Click here to learn more about the expedited hiring process + how to apply.
○ The third round of federal unemployment funding is now available in South Carolina. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation provides 13 additional weeks of benefits after the SC benefits have expired. SCDEW has reported the call center staff has answered more than 80,000 phone calls each week. Application instructions are available here. (CRBR)
○ Fun + educational activities for kids (CHStoday)
○ Guide to virtual learning (Charleston 360)
○ Educational resource guide (Charleston Moms)
○ Ways to keep kids entertained while in quarantine (The Post & Courier)
○ We Still Create | A temporary local site setting up for local creatives to share their art.
○ Submit a demo to Ohm Radio | Ohm Radio is collaborating with community members and arts organizations to air their content during this time. If you’ve always wanted your own radio show, now’s your chance.
○ Roxyart.io | Offering tools and software to artists, galleries and museums for free.
○ Check out what Charleston’s music community is doing to keep their businesses afloat + the public entertained while social distancing measures are in place. (Charleston City Paper)
○ Receive online design consultations from Leslie Norton of Norton Designs.
○ SCETV is broadcasting instructional content for all grades and multiple subjects during the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
○ Guide to virtual learning (Charleston 360)
○ Charleston Southern University has created a COVID-19 Student Emergency Care Fund for students who are in need of additional financial assistance in areas like food, housing, medicine, travel and education-related expenses. Students can submit requests for assistance here. Donations to the fund can be made here.
○ The College of Charleston launched a virtual career center to continue helping students in their job search + preparation. Staff members are available to help students review documents, answer questions, and offer career-related support. Additional evening appointment hours (5-7 p.m. on Wednesdays) will run through the end of May, and there will be a variety of webinars, presentations + Zoom events available. (Holy City Sinner)
○ Colleges and universities in S.C. will be getting several millions from the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. To see the full rundown on how this $12.56 billion stimulus package will be distributed, click the link here. (Greenville Journal)
○ Berkeley County students will now have access to Google’s Rolling Hotspots – school buses that offer free WiFi. Berkeley County School District and Google South Carolina teamed up to bring 30 WiFi-enabled buses to ensure rural students Internet access. Social distancing rules will be followed on all buses.
Health Care Resources and support
○ DHEC makes the following recommendations for South Carolinians to protect themselves:
- Practicing social distancing
- Wearing a mask while out in public
- Avoiding touching frequently touched items
- Regularly washing your hands
- Monitoring for symptoms
○ Anyone in South Carolina who has COVID-19-like symptoms can use MUSC Health’s Virtual Care system for free by using the promo code COVID19.
○ MUSC Health patients can contact any of MUSC’s pharmacies and request to have their prescriptions or over-the-counter medications mailed (with free shipping) by calling 843-876-0199. Any controlled substance prescriptions will require a signature upon receipt. Ⓟ
○ Roper St. Francis Healthcare is offering free virtual care consultations between 8 a.m. + 8 p.m. any day of the week to anyone in the Lowcountry experiencing coronavirus-like symptoms. Use the promo code COVID19. Virtual visits outside of the specified timeframe will be subject to the standard flat rate of $59.
○ MUSC Health has tightened its visitation rules. Visitors are no longer permitted at the University Hospital, University Hospital Extension and Ashley River Tower unless doctors feel the patient is nearing the end of his or her life. At that time, a maximum of two people at a time will be allowed to visit their bedside.
○ A new online platform called the South Carolina Emergency Supply Collaborative has been launched to help connect organizations in need of essential supplies + equipment (like face shields, gowns, ventilators, + masks) with those industry + community partners that are able to produce, source, test, certify or donate it. Check it out here.
○ Roper St. Francis Healthcare has launched a donation center for critical supplies to help protect their healthcare workers + patients during COVID-19. See a list of accepted items here. Items must be sealed and in their original packaging. Donations can be delivered Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at 9165 University Blvd., Suite 200. More info. Ⓟ
○ Planning to utilize one of the drive-thru coronavirus testing sites? Here’s what you need to know before you go. (The State)
○ The Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired South Carolina (ABVI) is now offering virtual rehabilitation training for blind and visually impaired adults. Courses available include activities of daily living, assistive technology, braille and computer training. Most training sessions will be held over phone calls. Learn more here.
○ MUSC Health has begun performing blood transfusions on coronavirus patients using plasma donations from those who have been diagnosed with and have fully recovered from the virus (symptom-free for 28 days). While the prognosis of these patients remains unclear, those eligible are encouraged to continue donating plasma at places like The Blood Connection. (The Post and Courier)
○ If you have to leave your home for the grocery store or another essential service, the CDC recommends keeping your face covered. Here’s some valuable information about face masks – including how to make one at home.
○ Roper St. Francis Healthcare has started utilizing in-house “quick tests” that can deliver COVID-19 test results in around 45 minutes. These tests are being conducted at Roper Hospital (316 Calhoun St.) and Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital (2095 Henry Tecklenburg Dr., West Ashley). (WCSC)
○ Roper St. Francis Healthcare will be consolidating all Labor and Delivery services to Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital in West Ashley to provide the best patient experience possible while ensuring everyone’s safety. The Labor and Delivery units at Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant Hospital will be temporarily closed effective April 11, and Roper St. Francis Berkeley Hospital will be temporarily closed effective April 17 as the healthcare system prepares for the potential influx of COVID-19 patients.
○ MUSC Health is raising money to develop and acquire a blood test that identifies people who have developed an immunity to the COVID-19 virus. Contribute here by selecting “College of Medicine COVID-19 Research” from the drop down menu.
○ Take a behind-the-scenes look at MUSC Health’s COVID-19 testing here.
○ Global virtual support group Lyf is now offering free 60-minute sessions with mental health professionals to frontline workers. Register here. Additional resources for frontline workers here, and mental health resources here. (WCIV)
○ The South Carolina Hospital Association announced plans to award a $1,000 grant to at least 70 SC healthcare workers who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. To receive a grant, employees must be employed full or part time by a hospital and impacted by coronavirus financially, physically, through family, or by recent unemployment. Apply here through June 12. (WCBD)
We’ve launched a series called “Finding a New Normal”, where we share the unique perspectives of people in our community. Check out the latest posts below, and share your own story with us here.
○ Joanna Gable, owner of BeesKnees massage studio
○ Alex Moor, Executive Director of the nonprofit organization Be A Mentor
○ Sam and Paula Kramer, owners of Baguette Magic
○ Jennarae Browning, fitness coach at Iron Tribe Fitness
○ Carole Swiecicki, licensed psychologist and the Executive Director at the Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center
○ Melissa Bradshaw, founder of Wee Little Arts
○ Maggie Vickrey, CHStoday intern + graduating senior at CofC