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SC Governor says statewide stay-at-home order not needed now

Gov. Henry McMaster said he believes the people are complying with previous orders.

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said Thursday he still believes a statewide stay at home order is not needed right now to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

McMaster held an update Thursday at the state's emergency operations center. 

Some state lawmakers have asked him to issue the order. But right now, McMaster said he doesn't think that's necessary. "I have great faith in the common sense and wisdom of the people of our state," McMaster said.

RELATED: Lawmakers push Governor to implement stay-at-home order, want to consider increase to unemployment benefits

Some local jurisdictions have gone ahead and done their own version, however. Charleston passed a stay-at-home order Tuesday night, and Columbia passed one Thursday.

RELATED: Columbia approves stay-at-home order for all residents

RELATED: City of Charleston issues 'stay at home' order amid coronavirus concerns

McMaster said he believes people have scaled back their travel, many businesses have shut down or switched to remote work, and that people are getting the message. "I'm convinced that most of the people in South Carolina are following the instruction," he said. 

RELATED: DHEC: 2 new deaths, 456 total cases of coronavirus in South Carolina

He encouraged continued social distancing and good hygiene, including hand-washing. 

At the beginning of the week, McMaster did issue an executive order giving law enforcement the ability to disperse groups of three or more. The measure does not apply to families, law-abiding businesses, or grocery stores. It's more targeting a people holding parties at beaches or being unruly in crowds. 

The governor says it’s similar to public nuisance statutes, but this is a misdemeanor.

RELATED: SC governor requests out-of-state visitors self-quarantine on arrival

RELATED: Governor's order to dispers gatherings doesn't apply to families, workplaces, law-abiding businesses

He also ordered most out-of-state visitors to self-quarantine when they arrive in South Carolina. 

On Tuesday, McMaster and State Education Superintendent Molly Spearman jointly announced that all public schools would be closed until at least April 30.

RELATED: All South Carolina schools to remain closed through April

What is the Coronavirus? 

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases such as pneumonia. DHEC is working with CDC to identify all those who might have been in contact with these individuals. These people will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms.

People can help to prevent the spread of the virus in the following ways:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. And, always wash your hands with soap and water if they are visibly dirty.
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • stay home when you’re sick.
  • cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue and put it in the trash immediately.
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • get the influenza vaccine.

For general questions about COVID-19 residents should visit the DHEC website at scdhec.gov/COVID19 or the CDC website here.

For residents concerned about their own personal health or are showing symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, please call your personal doctor or healthcare provider. DHEC has launched its Care Line. If residents have general questions about COVID-19, the DHEC Care Line is here to help. Call 1-855-472-3432. Staff are answering calls from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call volume has been high. Callers are urged to be patient if they receive a busy signal and try their call at a later time.