Schools closing, online Sunday services and grocery stores running out of toilet paper; the novel COVID-19 has profoundly reshaped South Carolinians daily lives in only one week.
Last week, South Carolina declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 crisis. Governor Henry McMaster made several executive orders in the palmetto state that resulted in schools’ districts, businesses, restaurants and offices closing their doors to limit the spread of the virus.
Ever since January 2020, the coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, has hit all 50 states, with new cases emerging every day. According to the Center for Disease and Control, the number of US cases topped over 33,000 on Sunday.
On March 7, South Carolina had its official first two cases of the virus in Charleston and Kershaw County. A week later on March 15, Governor McMaster and other officials ordered the closure of all public schools until March 31. With this, pre-k-12th grades schools and colleges were forced to cancel all classes and after-school activities.
On Monday, after Gov. McMaster announced that all public schools, universities and colleges will be closed state-wide, Georgetown County implemented their emergency school plans.
At preK-12 schools, parents and students had to pick up their child’s “grab and go” bags for breakfast and lunch meals.
“It’s a really big help,” Cheryl Bryant said as she was picking up her children’s lunches at Sampit Elementary School. Bryant, like other parents, had to stay inside her vehicle and wait for the facility and staff to bring her supplies to reduce the chance of infecting herself and her kids.
“For our community, we’re all struggling and kids being home and not going to school has put a hurting on everybody,” she said.
For her kids, they love being out of school for two weeks but for parents like Bryant, the difficulty is adjusting to this change them not being in school.
“It puts a strain on your work schedule and try to make sure everyone’s squared away with babysitters and lunch,” she said.
Not only education, high school athletics were adjusted to the governor’s announcement. No one could not practice and play games because the South Carolina High School League (SCHSL) suspended all spring sports until April. All after school activities including training and sporting events were postponed until April as well. College athletics were also impacted as the National Junior College Athletic Association(NJCAA) canceled the remainder of the spring season as well the remainder of the winter season. Monday was also the first coronavirus-related death in SC.
The next day, restaurants were affected by the new orders of the governor.
McMaster issued an executive order requiring the shut down of all dine-in services in restaurants and bars. He also included an order on state tax deadlines, delaying them until June 1, state agencies waived any restrictions regulations and prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people at publicly owned facilities.
Fast food and local restaurants in town began to offer “to-go” services only. For places like Antonio’s Restaurant in Andrews, customers must walk in and order their food from the counter then wait outside until their food is ready for pick-up.
“It’s to limit their exposure as well as ours,” Co-owner Dee Dee Kagias said. “We’re trying to honor our employees needs as well as the county.”
So far, both owners have said there has been no issues with customers about these new services.
Other places such as bars in Georgetown including Castaways and Graham’s Landing put up menus on their doors for takeout options.
With the prohibition of more than 50 people in public places, all county recreation parks and facilities were closed. In other places, stores put up new hours to limit the spread of the coronavirus to the general public. People swarmed places including Walmart, Food Lion, Publix and other grocery markets for supplies during the crisis.
Hand sanitizers, wipes, gloves, masks and toilet paper were only a few items to name that were completely taken off the shelves.
“They took all of ‘em,” one shopper exclaimed as she observed the barren aisles of toilet paper in Georgetown’s Walmart.
In response, almost all stores had to implement guideline for shoppers such as limiting the amount of supplies to consumers.
Another change of last week was passing of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act which responded to the coronavirus outbreak “providing paid sick leave and free coronavirus testing, expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requiring employers to provide additional protections for health care workers” to many Americans who stay at home in self quarantine.
Gov. McMaster ordered an additional order that required all ‘non-essential’ state employees to stay home and emergency measures for unemployment claims and benefits.
Two reports of death, one in Charleston and the other one in Florence County, sees SC with three total deaths from coronavirus. Both victims were elderly patients.
McMaster addressed rumors saying that, a shelter in place is “not under consideration” in SC regardless of other states adopting this emergency. Also, he addressed the gathering of people on Myrtle Beach ordering all local law enforcement to disperse such crowds on state beaches.
Another executive order that changed South Carolinians lives was the passing of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a bill to address paid sick leave and medical leave, unemployment compensation, funding for food security programs and free diagnostic testing.
As of March 23, DHEC reported the fourth’s and fifth’s deaths in the state related to the coronavirus.
Public places such as banks and offices are spraying and cleaning every surface of the space, churches offered online service through live worship and praise, and people are practicing “social distancing” and not be around groups and crowds.
With all these executive orders and happening in the state, many businesses and city officials are taking the precautionary measures to limit and prevent the spread of the virus from hurting the public right here in Georgetown County.
As of March 23, 298 cases have been identified in South Carolina with two more additional coronavirus related deaths on Monday, bringing the state total to five. Two cases of the coronavirus have been reported in Georgetown County.