May 20, 2020
RECAP ON ACCELERATESC MEETING
In an effort to keep you informed, here is an update on an AccelerateSC task force meeting that occurred yesterday afternoon. The task force’s subcommittees presented recommendations on the state’s response to COVID-19. Next, a final AccelerateSC meeting will occur to discuss how to put forth the governor’s recommendations.
A group of businesses provided recommendations on what is needed physically and operationally within the state’s attractions industry. The state will reopen attractions this weekend. Click here to view to guidelines and recommendations for reopening and operating attractions.
Youth sports practice can resume on May 31 with a two-week observation period. June 15th could be the first day athletic fields and youth sports games can begin.
A final review from the AccelerateSC task force will be released and will provide guidelines for childcare facilities, restaurants, golf courses, faith-based organizations, gyms, public pools, hotels, salons and barber shops, and manufacturers. These will be available when the final review of AccelerateSC is released, which is estimated to be in 10 days. Guidelines for day camps are forthcoming. This and other helpful information can be found on accelerate.sc.gov.
The importance of the liability issue was discussed. The task force reiterated the need for legislation to provide a safe harbor for products liability and workers’ comp claims in a limited way and on a temporary basis. Groups including the SC Manufacture’s Alliance, SC Retailer’s Association, SC Hospital Association, SC Medical Association and the SC Chamber of Commerce have been working together to address this.
A video was made and will be released to the public to encourage consumer confidence. It’s important to ensure people patronize places upon reopening.
Superintendent Molly Spearman reiterated that guidance was sent out a few weeks ago for school districts to have virtual or in-person graduation ceremonies. They suggest limiting the number of guests. SLED and law enforcement have been asked to assist districts in this. Each school is encouraged to do what makes sense for them.
The Governor never issued an order to impede on places of worship. AccelerateSC has issued guidance for them, which is not required, but includes recommended safety protocols.
The overall priority of the protection subcommittee is to protect the health of the public as the state’s economy reopens.
Recommendations include restrictive visitation policies, specifically for nursing homes and hospitals. Earlier guidance suggested taking 7 days before returning to work if you have symptoms of COVID, but the most recent guidance now suggests 10 days.
Test results are becoming more available. Currently, they are working on the creation of an online opportunity for providers to access test results in real time. It’s available for treatment purposes, but also to avoid retesting the same person multiple times. There was a noticeable increase in testing availability from April to May. The first phase of universal testing of all 40,000 nursing residents and staff is now complete. More than 131,000 testing results reported thus far. SC is getting $118 million from the federal government for testing. DHEC will be in charge of implementing the statewide testing plan, with assistance from the SC Hospital Association. This is in addition to the $25 million from the legislature in the Continuing Resolution.
The goal of 1,000 contact tracers by June 1st has been exceeded. The basic state stockpile of PPE ensures access is available for businesses and others and not just available to healthcare providers. The state’s testing model is largely based on DHEC’s regional structures, which places the state into 4 regions. Mobile testing groups have been provided in each of those 4 regions to target hotspots. There are 201 testing sites available across the state, with 144 of those located in doctor offices or hospitals and 57 coming in June.
Outdoor Events, Churches & Day Camps
Special events, festivals and farmers markets will begin reopening or reinstating events. Churches are exploring renting outdoor venues. In terms of day camps for kids, they are pursuing partnerships with schools and churches that have larger facilities to accommodate children.
They provided examples for way to hold graduation ceremonies for high school seniors including venues such as stadiums, drive-in theaters and large outdoor facilities.
There’s a $203 million economic impact. This includes $75 million for startup costs for cleaning supplies, testing and rearranging classrooms.
Requirements were relaxed to allow online clinical classes for graduating nurses. Other face-to-face instruction is likely for some students by the end of the summer. They are working to increase the number of online classes.
Law enforcement needs to be informed and given notice on when testing sites are in operation. They encourage those that need public safety to request it before an event.
COVID Response Reserve Account
Authorizes the Governor to direct $155 million to respond to pandemic. This directs up to $15 million to poll workers and voters for the June 9th primary. Additionally, the use of funds will reimburse local government and hospitals. $25 million is provided to MUSC, DHEC and the Hospital Association for a statewide testing plan. This suspends the scheduled 1% employer contribution rate increase for the SC Retirement System and Police Officers Retirement Systems for FY2020-21. This also authorizes state agencies and higher education to spend earmarked and restricted revenue sources to maintain critical programs.
The Executive Budget Office conducted a survey to collect documented expenditures incurred by state and local government agencies and received 187 survey responses. In total, over $613 million has been spent (or will be spent in future) on COVID relief by state agencies, municipalities, colleges and universities.
Other Info from Former Senator Greg Ryberg
From the COVID Relief Fund, $1.996 billion is available to SC. Expenditures must be due to the COVID response and be incurred between March 1 and December 30, 2020. They recommended the state enlist a third-party vendor to track and report spending, which is included in the Continuing Resolution. Unemployment will cost the state $600 million+ by the end of the year. It’s up to the General Assembly to come forward with a broadband plan and structure, which will cost an estimated $80 million to roll out statewide. Lawmakers are expected to return after the June 9th primary to deal with spending of the state’s $1.9 billion share from the CARES Act.
This week they deployed social media pages and encourage everyone to follow their Twitter and Facebook page.
AccelerateSC’s Next Meeting
There will be a final AccelerateSC meeting scheduled for next week to present final recommendations.
Comments from Governor McMaster
Dr. Fauci congratulated SC in our response. There will be a final report from the task force moving forward.