Gov. McMaster’s executive order activates SC National Guard and protects first responders

by Tony Fortier-Bensen/WCIV
national guard

Lt. Col. Paul Felician, the Battalion Commander of the 641st Troop Command, addresses National Guard Soldiers and Airmen in preparation to potentially respond to COVID-19. (Wisconsin National Guard photo by Spc. Emma Anderson)

On Saturday night, Governor Henry McMaster issued an executive order that activated the SC National Guard, gave emergency powers to DHEC and gave first responders protection towards those possibly infected with COVID-19.

The governor now requires 911 dispatchers to ask anyone who calls for service if they or anyone at their location has tested positive or has symptoms of coronavirus. Law enforcement at the scene of service also can ask and demand to know if anyone has knowingly been in contact with someone with the virus or is displaying symptoms of the virus.

For schools, the executive order gives authority to public colleges and universities to finish out the year remotely through online learning and continues the closure of public K-12 schools throughout the month of April.

The order also allows school districts to make “any necessary and appropriate decisions or arrangements to account for local needs and other unique circumstances.”

The SC National Guard is now activated, anti-price gouging laws are in effect, emergency powers were granted to the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and visits to nursing homes, prisons and jails are now restricted, all according to the executive order. End of life visits are still allowed in nursing homes.

The executive order came soon after DHEC announced that two more patients died, bringing the total in South Carolina at 15. Both new deaths had underlying medical conditions.

As of Saturday, the total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state is at 660.