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.
○ Visit SCDHEC’s website for full coronavirus data + stats, and here for daily positive COVID-19 cases + related deaths in South Carolina and accelerateSC’s website for full coronavirus data + stats on South Carolina’s employment, business, economy, education, and more.
○ The state has created a streamlined one-stop shop for all things COVID-19. With this new website, you’ll be able to get all of your COVID-19 state statistics in one place, along with other topics.
○ DHEC released a new dashboard, which provides detailed data from the county-level to look at the impacts of COVID-19 in SC. This new dashboard was developed by DHEC’s data analysts, GIS specialists + epidemiologists using information gathered through the agency’s expansive disease surveillance capabilities. View the dashboard here.
○ SCEMD have launched a new tool to help keep track of which local communities have mask ordinances. Click the link here to check it out.
○ DHEC is implementing new updates from the CDC for tracking + reporting cases of the coronavirus. The three most notable changes are that a positive antibody test is not classified as a probable case, a positive antigen test is classified as probable case, and that a new “suspect case” category was created for positive antibody or antigen tests from autopsy specimens not previously identified as a case.
○ DHEC has released an updated list of testing + isolation requirements as colder weather and flu season approaches. Included is the recommendation for monthly screenings for those who spend ample time out + about in the community. Read more about the updates here. 🦠 (WCIV)
○ SCDHEC has launched a new Key Indicators Dashboard accessible from the main COVID-19 webpage. These key indicators provide an at-a-glance view of several important data elements used to assess measures of impact from COVID-19 in SC, including information for the current day, previous day, and previous 14 days.
○ The University of South Carolina has decided to cancel spring break for the 2021 semester for the same reasons. Instead, the university has factored five “wellness days” into its spring academic calendar to ensure students get the same amount of time off. Read more here. (The Post and Courier)
○ On Oct. 2, Gov. Henry McMaster lifted restaurant occupancy limits across the state – meaning restaurants can now operate at 100% capacity. You can read the full executive order here.
○ A health advisory has been issued by DHEC amid a continued increase of opioid overdoses in the state this year. The agency expects that the coronavirus will contribute to higher risks of overdoses in the near future, possibly the next few months. According to reports, the state has experienced an increase of these suspected opioid overdoses since March. (WCIV)
○ DHEC will begin providing twice-weekly reports on the number COVID-19 cases associated with staff + students at public and private schools in the state. This school reporting will include for every school both cumulative + rolling 30-day counts of confirmed cases among students, teachers and faculty members, and will be updated on DHEC’s COVID-19 webpage on Tues. and Fri. afternoons. The first reports will be available this Fri., Sep. 4. View the school cases lists, which will be available this Friday, here.
○ Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, most hospitals’ labor + delivery rooms have had to adjust the rules and regulations regarding births. Though they vary between hospitals, most new restrictions include the wearing of face masks, limited visitors + the administration of a coronavirus test upon arrival. (WCBD)
○ The CDC is discouraging Americans from participating in traditional Halloween festivities like trick-or-treating this year to help slow the spread of COVID-19. To still celebrate the holiday, they suggest lower-risk activities like carving pumpkins or hosting a virtual costume contest. Find out more about the CDC’s Halloween guidance here. (WMBF)
○ For 40+ years, horseshoe crab blood has helped make the Limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) test. This test can help determine if there are dangerous toxins present in new vaccines or other materials created by researchers. Read more about the role the horseshoe crab may play in the COVID-19 vaccine here. (Greenville News)
○ A bill was introduced to the S.C. House of Representatives that requires an option for 5 days of face-to-face instruction at public schools + for all employees, including teachers, to be considered essential workers. The duration of this bill would coincide with Gov. McMasters declaration of a state of emergency due to COVID-19, SARS, or both. Read the full bill here. (WCIV)
○ SC Department of Employment and Workforce will begin highlighting the top ‘life boat’ jobs in the state each week. A ‘life boat’ job is a position that an individual, with specific experience, can quickly transition into to achieve financial stability. (WLTX)
○ Reporting for college COVID-19 cases around the Lowcountry varies by the school. Among the total number of positive cases reported from the 11 Division-1 colleges + universities in South Carolina, UofSC, The Citadel, the College of Charleston + Presbyterian University reported “active” cases. According to this report, in total, the 11 D1 schools have managed 4,217 positive COVID-19 cases. Read more here. (WCSC)
○ Mount Pleasant Waterworks has been participating in a study led by SCDHEC + UofSC’s Arnold School of Public Health that uses water samples to calculate how many people in a community have COVID-19. Since March, MPW has provided two liters of wastewater each week, and there was a spike in the virus’ presence reported in July. Read more on the study + what it could mean for the future here. (WCBD)
○ A new face mask mandate was passed for the Town of Mount Pleasant during a town council meeting Tuesday afternoon. The mandate was put up for vote following backlash from the rejection of a mask extension earlier this month. People will now be required to wear a mask or face covering in grocery stores, pharmacies + town buildings for the next 61 days; failure to comply will result in a $25 fine. Read more here. (WCBD)
○ SCDHEC announced the agency + several key partners are developing a statewide COVID-19 vaccination testing plan in accordance with federal guidance. The overarching goal of this vaccination plan will be the equitable distribution of vaccines across the state. (WCSC)
○ Gov. Henry McMaster announced his recommendations for the second round of CARES act funds including $450 million to the Unemployment Trust Fund, $45 million in grants for small businesses + non-profit organizations that did not receive federal PPP loans, and $93 million to reimburse DHEC and MUSC. The governor also recommends $50 million to be reimbursed for public school districts and charter schools and $100 million to state agencies with COVID-19 related expenses.
○ $560,000 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funding was recently awarded to the Berkeley Charleston Dorchester Council of Government by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration. The money, which will be used for BCDCOG’s CARES Revolving Loan Fund, will assist in business recovery from the pandemic + creating and retaining jobs in the tri-county area. Business owners can apply for loans, ranging from $10,000-$100,000, here. (WCSC)
○ On Sept. 8, Folly Beach decided to extend the city’s mask mandate in light of mandates being lifted in surrounding areas. Additionally, leaders elected to lift restrictions on parking + music. (WCSC)
○ In early September, SCDHEC launched a new pledge project as part of DHEC’s Stay SC Strong campaign encouraging business leaders to help curb COVID-19 spread. The updated campaign website has a multitude of resources, including email templates, social media graphics, and downloadable content. Learn more here.
○ On Sept. 3, the Charleston County Council voted to extend its mask ordinance, which requires masks or face coverings in most public places, for an additional 20 days. Read more about the decision here. (WCIV)
○ Following a council meeting on Sept. 3, the Town of Sullivan’s Island has announced that they will be allowing chairs, coolers + shade devices on the beach once again. However, social distancing will still be enforced + face coverings will be required in businesses + restaurants. (WCBD)
○ Retail industry experts across the state claim that grocery stock shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic will not greatly impact SC during hurricane season, as retailers are well prepared for these circumstances + even have a hurricane playbook. (The Post and Courier)
○ Based on elements within the COVID-19 dashboard, City of Charleston officials claim that they do not expect to move to Phase III within the near future. New cases per 1,000, PCR test results + social distancing enforcement are all in the yellow, which need to move into the green for two to three weeks before phase advancement can occur. (WCSC)
○ The Citadel received approval for a football attendance plan by the South Carolina Department of Commerce. The college announced reduced capacity for its home game against Eastern Kentucky on Sat., Sept. 26. This plan includes operating at a capacity of 27%, (3,081 people) at the Johnson Hagood Stadium. (WCBD)
○ Starting Sept. 4 through the end of the year, the CDC has enacted a temporary eviction moratorium. Check out these factors to determine whether or not you may be eligible. (WIS)
○ Due to the coronavirus pandemic, childcare programs in the state will receive more than $1 million dollars to support families with young children. The funds are from South Carolina First Steps, which awarded more than $850,000 in grants + invested $190,000 in support for an AmeriCorps service program. Expansion of parenting programs, family support services + more are planned. (WCSC)
○ On Sept. 1, Mount Pleasant city council voted to extend the town’s mask ordinance 61 days (beginning today), and the ordinance was not passed. While the mask ordinance has now expired, residents still have to abide by Gov. McMaster’s executive order that requires masks in restaurants, event venues, theaters + gyms, as well as some private businesses. (WCSC)
○ On Sept. 1, SCDHEC released new guidelines for limited outdoor visitation at nursing homes + community residential care facilities (aka assisted living facilities). Factors for visitation ability include (but are not limited to) existing cases of COVID-19 within the facility, staffing capabilities + PPE availability and the facility’s ability to comply with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services testing requirements. Read full guidelines here.
○ According to the CDC, 94% of COVID-19-related deaths had underlying medical conditions. The CDC continues to advise that people social distance + perform best practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. The entire report from the CDC can be found here. (WEYI)
○ UofSC announced that this fall they will allow approximately 20,000 fans into Williams-Brice Stadium for football games, which is about 25% of the arena’s capacity. All attendees are required to follow the SEC’s coronavirus guidelines, including wearing a mask at all times + social distancing. (Post and Courier)
○ The SEC announced that the 2020 football season will consist of 10 conference-only games for each team – meaning, Clemson won’t play UofSC for the first time in over 100 years. The season has also been postponed until Sept. 26. (The State)
○ The ACC announced new guidelines for fall sports. Teams will be able to start their seasons the week of September 7. Conference schools will play 11 football games – 10 against ACC opponents + one non-conference game. The non-conference game must be played in the ACC school’s home state and opponents must meet predetermined medical requirements. Read more here. (WSPA)
○ MUSC Health, a top COVID tester in SC, may soon be replacing the nasal swab test with a saliva test. The hospital’s labs are trying to get saliva testing to perform at rates similar to the current testing method + will then need FDA approval for clinical testing. The transition could happen within a few weeks. (Live 5 News)
○ Researchers used a Boeing plane made in North Charleston as a test for new sanitation technologies amid the COVID-19 crisis. Two of the methods tested include a UV disinfecting wand + anti-microbial spray. Read more here. ✈️ (WCSC)
○ UofSC released guidelines for fans attending football games with parking lots operated by the Athletics Department opening two and half hours prior to kickoff. Fans are asked not to use tents + discouraged from tailgating, using grills or bringing coolers. Additionally, face masks will be required to enter the stadium. (Fox Carolina)
○ Charleston doctors are the first to use the medication remestemcel-L to treat those suffering from Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a condition sometimes found in kids after contracting COVID-19. K.J. Griffin, a 4-year-old who arrived at MUSC Health in critical condition, received treatment and his lab results showed normal levels. The child is now back at home. (WBTW)
○ During allergy season, it may be difficult to decipher between allergy symptoms + COVID-19 symptoms. Typical allergy symptoms include itchiness of the eyes, nose, or throat, but serious symptoms such as fever or diarrhea could point to COVID-19. Also, if symptoms last longer than a couple weeks, it is most likely allergies. (WCBD)
○ While we may be in the middle of a global pandemic, South Carolina has finished the fiscal year in a budget surplus of $775 million, leaving over 40% of the projected 2020-2021 surplus of $1.8 billion. (Post and Courier)
○ DHEC released data that shows communities with mask ordinances in place continue to see a slower rate of coronavirus cases when compared to communities without mask requirements. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend wearing masks that have an exhalation valve or vent. Learn more about face masks + watch a video for making one at home here.
○ Due to the coronavirus, pediatric vaccines were reportedly down by 35% in April and 21% in March, compared to the previous year. Students in SC must receive required immunizations to attend school or a child care center unless they have a medical or religious exemption. (WIS)
○ Recent evidence is showing that pregnancy can have more complex effects on those with COVID-19. Doctors are noting that it can be more difficult to fight infection because pregnancy changes a woman’s immune system and heart + lung functions increase during pregnancy to support both the mother and the baby. COVID-19 affects these areas most, which are already strained because of pregnancy. (Count on 2)
○ Gov. Henry McMaster requested that SCDHEC issue up-to-date visitation guidelines for in-person visitation with residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. On June 26, the governor directed SCDHEC to develop guidelines to allow for limited visitation in these facilities, but then, on July 2, asked to delay the release of those guidelines due to concerns about the rising rate of infection and hospitalization.
○ Clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine will begin in August in North Charleston. Clinical Trials of SC + Pain Specialists of Charleston are working together on this study, which is looking for 1,500 volunteers to receive two injections of the vaccine, which has already passed Phases one and two. Volunteers will be monitored for multiple months following the injections to track the vaccines effectiveness. Enroll here. (WCIV)
○ Due to the pandemic, some Lowcountry government employees will not be receiving raises. Town of Mount Pleasant + City of North Charleston officials have said that merit pay increases had to be cut from the budget because of COVID-19 revenue loss. It is estimated the city’s budget will fall short $12-$18 million. A spokesperson for Charleston County said that merit raises for employees will not be eliminated, but will be cut in half. (WCSC)
○ 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)
○ MUSC Health has been chosen for a Phase III trial for a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Charleston will be part of the first group of 20 US cities to test the vaccine. Of the 30,000 people researchers are hoping to collect data from, the Lowcountry is estimated to administer the vaccine to as many as 1,500. Learn more about the three-phase vaccine process here + more about MUSC’s trial here. (WCIV)
○ Yesterday, the SEC announced that all fans and workers attending college football games will be required to wear face coverings. The stadium capacity decision will be left to individual schools. (ESPN)
○ Compared to last year, business in South Carolina’s tourism industry has experienced a $4 billion drop in visitor-related revenue. The loss in income was measured from the first week of Feb. to Aug. 8. (Post and Courier)
○ As myocarditis – inflammation of heart muscle – has developed in a handful of Big Ten Conference athletes, and athletic directors + others have begun to take action. Both Clemson + South Carolina athletics confirmed that they are screening athletes for myocarditis + will continue to administer this testing. While myocarditis is usually caused by a previously contracted viral infection, there is no definite connection to COVID-19. (Post and Courier)
○ SCDHEC released a new data report that shows areas where wearing a face mask is required have lower numbers of COVID-19 cases, by 46.3%, in a four-week period when compared to areas without mask requirements. Dr. Linda Bell, the state’s epidemiologist, says she believes the state will be in a “better position in four to six weeks, if South Carolinians practice physical distancing and use a mask.” (WCSC)
○ SCDHEC is encouraging all SC residents to respond to legitimate contact tracing calls + emails from public health officials, while remaining vigilant against scams. Legitimate contact tracing includes two components: case investigations and contact monitoring. If you test positive for COVID-19, a contact tracer from DHEC will call you – and only ask you these questions.
○ Additionally, remaining aware of potential scam attempts is important. A contact tracer will never ask for your social security number, money, bank account or credit card number, or immigrant status. If you are concerned about whether a caller is a real DHEC official, verify their identity by asking them to send you an email (the address should end with @dhec.sc.gov) or calling the DHEC regional epidemiology office to confirm the caller’s name and credentials. Learn about reporting potential scams here.
○ MUSC Health is in the process of working on an app that will have the ability to track + alert for potential COVID-19 exposure on cell phones. Phones will use Bluetooth capabilities to track the proximity a person has to others who have reported in government issued applications that they have tested positive for COVID-19. Before it will be ready for the mass majority of people, the app will have to be reviewed by the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). (WCSC)
○ The Federal Maritime Commission has created regulations for refunding cruise ship passengers to make getting money back easier after many cruises were canceled due to the coronavirus. Passengers can opt to get a cruise credit as an alternative. (Post and Courier)
○ Restaurants are now required to follow the AccelerateSC guidelines, per Governor McMaster’s newest executive order effective Aug. 3. Guidelines include- six foot spacing between tables, no standing or congregating in bar areas, maximum parties of eight people, + mask requirements for employees and customers. Review the full guidelines here. (WCSC)
○ The South Carolina Department of Education received $15,049,608 in funding from the U.S. Department of Education. The money is for the “Rethink K-12 Education Models Grant,” which requires states to reevaluate current education models and is part of the CARES Act money. SC’s application – Return to Learn: Delivery Quality Instruction Virtually Anywhere – focused on improving communications between teachers, families, and the schools, increasing remote learning resources + more. (WCSC)
○ 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.
○ 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)
○ 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.
○ 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)
○ 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)
○ 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)
○ 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)
○ 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.
○ 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)
○ 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. Ⓟ
○ 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. Ⓟ
○ 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.
○ 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.
○ 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)
○ 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.
○ 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.
○ 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)
○ 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.
Scheduling changes + closures
○ College and professional sporting events (via CBS Sports)
○ South Carolina colleges and universities (via WCSC)
○ Local events (via WCSC)
○ Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Gaillard Center has postponed, rescheduled or cancelled additional upcoming events. Find details for each show here, as well as information for current ticket holders.
○ The Charleston Wine + Food Festival is officially cancelled for 2021, due to COVID-19 concerns. In place of the in-person 2021 festival, there will be planned community partnerships, digital content, live-streamed conversations + events, and a late-spring launch of the 2022 festival programming + schedule. (Post and Courier)
○ Charleston Beer Fest, set to take place September 26, has cancelled its 2020 festival due to the spike in COVID-19 infection rates. The next festival will be held on October 9, 2021. Meanwhile, the festival is offering up a variety of free, online festival activities. The organization is asking 2020 ticket holders to consider their existing purchase to be a donation to the cause. While refunds are available, they are offering numerous incentives to ticket holders to redeem 2020 tickets at the 2021 event.
○ 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)
○ Lexus Charleston Fashion Week has cancelled its events for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Alternatively, the organization, in partnership with Hendrick Lexus Charleston, is launching “Hometown Heroes” – a celebration of men + women putting their lives on the front lines to protect our community. The community is encouraged to nominate a police, fire, or healthcare professional deserving of recognition + celebration until Oct. 5, 2020. For more info, visit Charleston Fashion Week’s website or Instagram account.
○ 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.
○ 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.
○ 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)
○ Carowinds amusement park announced that it will remain closed for the remainder of the year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A key factor in the decision made by the park’s representatives was cited as, “limited visibility from state and local officials as to when a park opening is possible.” (WCBD)
○ Myrtle Beach’s Carolina Country Music Fest has officially been cancelled due to the current pandemic. Darius Rucker, Luke Combs, Eric Church + Jake Owen, the concert’s planned headliners, are said to be returning June of 2021. (Post and Courier)
○ Due to COVID-19 concerns, the 2020 Pawleys Island Festival of Art and Music has been rescheduled for October 2021. Current ticket holders will be able to use the tickets for the rescheduled festival. (WCBD)
Schools + universities
○ As part of Charleston County School District’s third phase of reopening, previously waitlisted high school students were welcomed back to the classroom for in-person learning on Thurs., Oct. 1. The district now has 55% of students learning in-person, while 45% continue to learn virtually. 🚌 (WCBD)
○ Charleston County School District plans to be able to offer rapid COVID-19 testing for students, teachers + staff in the next few weeks in partnership with MUSC Health, according to School District Chief Operating Officer Jeff Borowy. Read more here. (WCIV)
○ UofSC started saliva-based COVID-19 testing nearly one week ago and has already seen thousands of students. Researchers are hoping the test will become available to everyone across the state within the next few months, although there is currently no timeline. (WCSC)
○ UofSC is working to contain COVID-19 cases on its campus by installing additional cameras to track mask use + social distancing. The university plans on keeping track of infections that are crossing over into the community. (Post and Courier)
○ On Wednesday, the College of Charleston announced changes to its “Back on the Bricks” back-to-school COVID-19 plan, including mandatory submission of COVID-19 test results for students living on campus. More details on the amended plan here. (The College Today)
○ Charleston Southern University recently implemented new protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 50% of all classes will be held virtually, masks are required in all campus buildings at all times (excluding a dorm room or office) + instructors will be required to record all lectures for students who do not feel comfortable attending in-person classes. View CSU’s full Return to Campus Guide here. (WCSC)
○ UofSC announced they will be administering saliva-based COVID-19 tests to as many as 2,400 students per day. This testing is available five days a week to students, faculty + staff, free of charge. Results will return in just 24 hours. (Post and Courier)
○ UofSC’s COVID-19 dashboard is now live. The website reports current conditions on campus and shows a breakdown of total cases. (UofSC)
○ 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.
○ College of Charleston student leaders have created the new Cougar Pledge as a guideline for best practices among students, faculty + staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more here. (The College Today)
○ The College of Charleston has suspended all fall sports competition as of a meeting Monday afternoon. As of now, winter + spring sports remain on schedule, and training + practice for these will continue. (WCBD)
○ Charleston Southern University announced that standardized testing score requirements will be waived for Spring 2021 + Fall 2021 applicants who have at least a 3.0 unweighted high school GPA. Each applicant will be evaluated for academic scholarships + financial aid upon acceptance. Additional requirements and recommendations can be found here.
○ 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 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)
○ 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 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.
○ Most of the Charleston County Public Library branches have reopened, but they will continue to offer readers digital + curbside resources that were established due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This new safe + socially distanced library experience includes online lessons + story times, order-ahead book bundles + access to ebooks + audiobooks. (Post and Courier)
○ DHEC released its online resource that reports positive COVID-19 cases associated with all K-12 public + private schools in South Carolina. Information will be updated bi-weekly on Tuesday + Friday afternoons.
○ Charleston County School District has established a notification system for COVID-19 cases in schools, implementing direct notifications for “close contacts,” notifications for those who are not “close contacts” + school level + broad notifications. (WCSC)
○ The SC Department of Education released a new website to provide information and resources encouraging social emotional learning for students and teachers. The website has lessons available for elementary, middle and high school level students + online training for teachers. (CRBR)
○ Colleges and universities in SC 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)
○ 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)
○ 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.
○ The South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff has partnered with Verizon to bring discounted internet service to 150,000 K-12 students who do not have reliable access at home. The partnership, funded through the CARES Act, will give students the opportunity to participate in virtual learning at home. (Metro Columbia CEO)
○ DHEC has responded to a frequently asked question in regards to whether or not teachers + staff should continue to work if they come in close contact with a person with COVID-19, but are asymptomatic. Guidance from DHEC states, “Teachers and school staff are considered critical infrastructure employees so they may continue to work if it is necessary to maintain school operations + staff limitations exist. The individual should assure for vigilant social distancing, monitor for symptoms and isolate if they develop symptoms.” (WCSC)
Community resources + support
○ Mental health management tips + resources (CHStoday)
○ Ben’s Friends, a local support group for food + bev industry workers who struggle with substance abuse, has resumed in-person meetings after going virtual amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While meetings will occur every Sunday at 11 a.m. in The Cedar Room (701 E. Bay St.) virtual Zoom meetings are still available here. (The Post and Courier)
○ 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.
○ The South Carolina Bar + South Carolina Legal Services have partnered to create a hotline service that is available to state residents facing evictions or other housing-related legal issues, due to the coronavirus. The toll-free hotline can be reached at 1-833-958-2266. Callers are asked to leave a message with details about the help requested + contact information. (CRBR)
○ Flying with a pet anytime soon? Take a look at this pet travel COVID-19 resource that helps pet owners stay up to date on changing airline policies. The information includes a chart of airlines + their updated travel restrictions due to the pandemic. Alternative travel options are also included + more details here. (Million Mile Secrets)
○ 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.
○ 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.
○ 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)
○ 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)
○ As a response to COVID-19, SNAP recipients can use their EBT cards for online purchases of various eligible food items, starting today. Walmart + Amazon are currently the only USDA retailers allowed to implement online food shopping in SC, but DSS is hopeful that more independent grocers + retailers will soon be added.
Business and employment resources
○ On Sept. 30, Mayor Tecklenburg + Charleston LDC CEO Steve Saltzman announced $850,000 in funds for small business loans authorized by the CARES Act. The loans will aid in hiring or retaining employees or funding enhancements + improvements necessary to comply with COVID-19 safety precautions and/or developing new models that reach customers who are spending differently due to COVID-19. Applicants may begin the process of applying for a loan by emailing the Charleston LDC at or calling (843)-973-7298.
○ Charleston-based company Vikor Scientific (22 Westedge St.) co-founder, Scotty Branch, shares his experience as a business owner during the COVID-19 pandemic + the process of adding COVID-19 testing to the numerous other scientific testing that the organization offers. Listen to the full interview here. (South Carolina Business Review)
○ Moneypenny, a leading outsourced communication provider, launched a Self-Screener digital tool that can be utilized by companies to screen for COVID-19 + communicate on-site policies. The tool can also track who is self isolating, who has related symptoms, who has been exposed to the virus + who thinks they have the virus. Learn more here + find the tool here.
○ 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.
○ 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.
○ 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.
○ 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)
○ 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.
○ 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.
○ Fun + educational activities for kids (CHStoday)
○ Ways to keep kids entertained while in quarantine (The Post & Courier)
○ The American Academy of Pediatrics released information to help parents properly take care of children during the COVID-19 pandemic including safe ages to wear cloth masks, testing recommendations + more. Read more here. (WCBD)
○ 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.
○ 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)
○ 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)
○ Educational resource guide (Charleston Moms)
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
○ On Sept. 4, MUSC Health announced that saliva-based diagnostic COVID-19 tests will be offered on a preliminarily limited basis. “Symptomatic ambulatory patients” will have priority for these tests. Find more information about scheduling here. (WCBD)
○ 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.
○ 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.
○ Fetter Health Care Network (Fetter) has updated its free, mobile COVID-19 testing clinic schedule in Berkeley + Charleston counties to add additional testing clinic dates. For a list of COVID-19 testing sites + dates, click here. Individuals who have a known exposure to COVID-19 or are experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms can visit here for more information.
○ The SC Department of Mental Health created a toll-free service line for Spanish speakers. The anonymous Spanish support line is available Mon.-Fri. from 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m., with the exception of state holidays. (Cola Daily)
○ 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. Ⓟ
○ Tidewater Health (1435 Stuart Engals Blvd #101, Mount Pleasant) is offering free, drive-through COVID-19 testing with 48-hour results. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are encouraged. To make an appointment, send an email here or call (843)-800-5686. Hours are 8 a.m.-3 p.m, Mon.-Fri.
○ 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.
○ 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)
○ 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)
○ 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)
○ 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. Ⓟ
○ 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)
○ 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. Ⓟ
○ 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.
Share your experience
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