We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccines in South Carolina. Check back for updates.
Cases surpass 467,000
At least 467,016 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in South Carolina and 8,105 have died since last March, according to state health officials.
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control on Saturday reported 632 new COVID-19 cases, down from 683 reported the day before.
Thirteen coronavirus deaths were reported Saturday.
At least 486 people were reported hospitalized with the coronavirus in the state as of Saturday.
As of Saturday, 3.5% of COVID-19 tests were reported positive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 5% or lower means there is a low level of community spread.
Over 2.04 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in South Carolina, and more than 751,000 people in the state have “completed vaccination” as of April 1.
Myrtle Beach businesses allowed to set own mask rules
The city of Myrtle Beach no longer requires face masks in public places, except government buildings.
Businesses can still require them, but it appears most won’t, The Sun News reports. Many businesses owners are frustrated with confrontations with customers who refuse to wear masks.
Myrtle Beach’s mask mandate had been in place since early July but had been loosely enforced. Now, Myrtle Beach City Manager Fox Simons has issued an executive order that urges people to wear masks but leaves the decision to require them up to businesses.
Karen Riordan, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce CEO, said in a statement that discontinuing the mask mandate allows businesses to make their own decisions but that many, including the Chamber, will continue requiring them, according to the Sun News.
“Others may decide that masks are not needed because they have plexiglass barriers or open-air spaces,” Riordan said in the statement.
Lexington County offers new COVID relief
Lexington County is offering low- to moderate-income residents help with mortgage, rent and utility payments through a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Renters and homeowners will be able to apply for up to six consecutive months of financial assistance. Eligible applicants must be Lexington County residents and must have an annual income that is at or below 80% of the area median income, which was $32,024 for individuals and $61,173 per household in 2019.
They must also prove they are past due or unable to pay all or part of their rent, mortgage and utilities.
More information can be found at Lexington County’s website.
SC Republicans speak out against ‘vaccine passports’
South Carolina won’t tolerate “vaccine passports,” Gov. Henry McMaster said, a sentiment shared by most of the state’s Republican congressmen.
The idea of requiring U.S. residents to carry documentation proving they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to travel is “un-American to its core,” McMaster said in a tweet.
Five of South Carolina’s six Republican Congress members signed a letter Friday supporting McMaster’s view, saying they had “grave concerns” about vaccine passports.
“Today, we ask that you do everything in your power under the law to prohibit ‘vaccine passports’ from being required to enter, enjoy and move about our beautiful state,” the letter read.
While the Biden administration is working to establish standards for residents to prove they’ve been vaccinated, the White House has said there will not be a federal requirement for Americans to get such documents.
Despite those promises, many Republicans are still speaking out against vaccine passports, or similar concepts.