Although this Easter weekend certainly felt different, I pray that you were able to spend time (even if virtual) with friends and family and to reflect on the blessings that remain. In the midst of so much pain and difficulty, Easter is a much-needed reminder that we have a constant, living hope in the resurrected Jesus. You can watch my brief Easter video message here.
COVID-19 Health Updates As I mentioned last week, if you miss briefings from either Governor McMaster or the White House Coronavirus Task Force, you can visit my Facebook page for a summary of each one.
Here are some highlights from last week’s conferences.
Governor Henry McMaster issued a mandatory “home or work” order that went into effect on Tuesday at 5 p.m. South Carolinians should be home unless they are working, visiting family, exercising outdoors, or going to stores or pharmacies for essentials. Violators will face a penalty of 30 days in jail and/or a $100 fine. The order will remain in effect for the duration of South Carolina’s state of emergency, which the governor has now extended through April 27.
On Friday, the White House announced that over two million tests had been completed, with more than 100,000 now being administered each day.
Vice President Pence reported that recent data shows evidence of COVID-19 stabilization across the country. Hospital bed occupancy rates are decreasing, and the number of new cases nationwide is flattening, indicating that the country may be heading toward the downward slope.
Vice President Pence also announced that CARES Act recovery checks up to $1,200 for those making less than $75,000 per year will begin to be distributed by the end of this week through direct deposits. More information can be found at www.treasury.gov.
To see the latest data on COVID-19 testing and cases by county, click here.
Addressing Reports of Racial Disparities Last Tuesday, as reports began showing COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on communities of color, I wrote to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. In my letter, I wrote, “As you move forward with additional actions aimed at combating COVID-19, we ask that you use the tools and authorities available to the Department to identify, monitor, and analyze potential racial disparities in the prevalence, along with the hospitalization and mortality rates, of this disease.”
The collection of this information, as stated in my letter, will enable us to “more effectively address the needs at hand and more aggressively combat this terrible disease” for all Americans. You can read the full letter here.
Actions from South Carolina While faithfully practicing social distancing guidelines by working remotely, my office and I remain dedicated to serving South Carolinians in all ways possible. Last week, I held another telephone town hall to address constituent questions. I also joined colleagues from both sides of the aisle in sending two additional letters to federal government agencies and one letter to President Trump - all in an effort to reduce the financial burdens created by COVID-19. You can read about each of the letters by clicking here.
Resources: If you are feeling ill, click here for information from the South Carolina Hospital Association on telehealth options. More complete information on resources for South Carolinians is also available on my website or my Facebook page.
For your own safety and the safety of others, remember to wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds, use cloth masks in public (leaving medical-grade masks for medical personnel), and stay home when at all possible. More CDC guidelines and other helpful tips are available at www.coronavirus.gov.
Final Words: Once again, I want to thank not only our healthcare workers, but also the brave folks who are continuing to deliver our mail, keep the shelves stocked at our local grocery stores, drive trucks across the state, and so much more. You are our heroes.
As I announced last week, Senator Coons (D-DE) and U.S. Representatives Cleaver (D-MO-05) and Walker (R-NC-06) and I have called for April to be a National Month of Prayer. We invite you to join us in lifting up private prayer at noon each day for these heroes on the frontlines of the COVID-19 battle and for our nation as a whole.
Many South Carolinians are performing their own heroic acts of generosity, from creating face masks for one another to donating to charities and more. I am so inspired by our state’s individuals and corporations taking bold action to help others during this time. Keep up the good work! We will overcome this challenge together.
Lowcountry 2500 City Hall Lane 3rd Floor Suite North Charleston, SC 29406 Phone: (843) 727-4525 Fax: (855) 802-9355
Midlands 1901 Main Street Suite 1425 Columbia, SC 29201 Phone: (803) 771-6112 Fax: (855) 802-9355
Upstate 104 South Main Street Suite 803 Greenville, SC 29601 Phone: (864) 233-5366 Fax: (855) 802-9355
Washington, DC 104 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 Phone: (202) 224-6121 Toll Free: (855) 425-6324 Fax: (202) 228-5143