Coronavirus updates in SC: United Methodist churches to resume in-person worship June 14
This is a developing story that will be updated throughout the day with the latest news about the coronavirus pandemic and its effects in Upstate South Carolina.
SC COVID-19 map:County-by-county look at coronavirus cases
Coronavirus noticias en Carolina del Sur: Empresas que suponen contacto cercano el 18 de mayo
DHEC reports 232 new coronavirus cases, 9 more deaths
The state Department of Health and Environmental Control announced on Friday 232 new COVID-19 cases and nine additional deaths. That brings South Carolina's total to 8,407 cases and 380 deaths.
Seven of the eight additional deaths were of elderly people in Cherokee, Clarendon, Fairfield, Florence, Pickens and Sumter counties. One of the deaths was of a middle-aged person in Clarendon County.
Of the 232 newly reported cases, Greenville County saw the most with 31 new cases. Spartanburg County had 17 new cases, Pickens County two, Oconee County one and Anderson County one.
Eleven free COVID-19 testing events took place across the state Friday. DHEC has more than 50 mobile testing clinics scheduled through June 5.
As of Thursday, DHEC's Public Health Laboratory had conducted 23,980 COVID-19 tests. Of those, 2,963 were positive and 21,017 were negative.
In total, 109,616 tests have been conducted between DHEC's lab and private labs.
SC's United Methodist churches to resume in-person worship June 14
South Carolina's United Methodist churches will continue to suspend in-person gatherings through June 10.
Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, resident bishop of the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, announced Friday that worship services and other in-person gatherings will be allowed to resume Sunday, June 14.
"We have heard your desire to return in person to the communities of faith that shape your relationship with Jesus Christ," Holston said in a statement Friday. "Even when the church doors are once again open and we can safely gather, this does not mean a return to business as usual. It is critical to recognize the importance of the safe and sanitary practices necessary once we return to church buildings."
The 2020 South Carolina United Methodist Conference, originally scheduled for June, has been postponed and has not yet been rescheduled, according to the statement.
"Our priority in this and all decisions is ensuring the health and safety of South Carolina United Methodists," Holston said.
More than 1 million meals served to Greenville County Schools students
Since the statewide shutdown of schools began March 16, Greenville County Schools announced a milestone Friday of having served more than 1 million meals to students.
The school district's Food and Nutrition Services workers, with the help of bus drivers, have served 1,001,989 meals to students since the start of school closures, District spokesman Tim Waller said in a statement Friday.
Food and Nutrition Services director Joe Urban said in a statement that workers are now serving 25,000 meals per day. On the first day of closures, workers served 1,200 meals and 10,000 meals were served by the end of the week, Urban said in the statement.
School nurses also helped in the effort by taking temperatures of those preparing meals.
“At the time when people were asked to retreat to the safety of their homes, these employees came out to meet the needs of their community,” Urban said in the statement.
Presbyterian College remains committed to open campus for fall semester
Presbyterian College Provost Don Raber affirmed the college's plans to open its campus for the fall semester.
Raber made the announcement in an email to Presbyterian College students on Friday, affirming PC President Bob Staton's statement on April 27 about intentions to re-open for the fall semester, according to a statement from the college.
"Together, we are examining needs for physical distancing in classroom spaces as we plan for fall courses, ways to deliver particular experiences remotely where appropriate while maintaining in-person connections, options for gathering people in both residential facilities and athletic venues, requirements for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, and other procedures necessary for operating the campus under different scenarios," Raber said in an email to students. "Many factors are under consideration in each area on campus, and our top priority always will be the safety and health of our community in a highly uncertain environment."
City of Clemson temporarily lifts open container laws for seated, outdoor diners to aid local restaurants
Clemson City Council unanimously approved allowing open containers of beer and wine to be sold in restaurants' expanded outdoor dining areas until at least June 1.
The ordinance was passed at a special called meeting Friday to help clarify outdoor dining regulations set forth in recent orders from Gov. Henry McMaster.
Customers will not be allowed to take their beverages onto public sidewalks or off restaurant property, the ordinance states.
The ordinance allows restaurants to sell beer and wine only to seated customers within clearly marked outdoor dining areas. The move helps local restaurant owners who do not have or have expanded their outdoor dining.
“It helps us get some tables outside and also helps us to better stage things inside,” Chris Culler, owner of Loose Change and Evolve Kitchen + Table in downtown Clemson told council during the meeting.
Fuller thanked council for supporting the change, saying it would help local restaurants as they wrestle with how to provide safe service amidst the pandemic.
“The city and businesses, we’re all in this together,” Mayor JC Cook told Fuller. “Whatever we can do to help you, because a healthy business means a healthy town.”
The ordinance also states restaurants are responsible for enforcing social distancing at any lines that may form from customers on their property or waiting to enter the premises, the ordinance states.
City council will take up the issue again at their June 1 meeting to decide whether to end, extend or modify the changes.
Mayor, officials focus on 'Greater Greenville Pledge' during Friday briefing
The city of Greenville announced a marketing campaign Tuesday that urges businesses to "reopen responsibly" as South Carolina's coronavirus-related restrictions are being eased.
On Friday, Mayor Knox White and business leaders reiterated the plan, emphasizing the importance of building confidence among customers.
Businesses participating will pledge to follow certain safety guidelines to protect employees and patrons. Upon making that pledge, businesses will be given resources and tools to show their participation.
Gov. McMaster defends ‘separate and independent’ emergency declarations
Responding to a South Carolina Senate resolution approved earlier this week, Gov. Henry McMaster said Friday that each of the emergency declarations that he issued during the coronavirus pandemic has been “separate and independent.”
A non-binding resolution stating that a state of emergency declared by the governor cannot last longer than 15 days without "the express consent" of state lawmakers was approved by senators earlier this week on a 17-16 vote. The resolution, which sparked a lengthy debate, was introduced by Sen. Richard Cash, a Republican from Powdersville.
Speaking to the reporters in Columbia, McMaster questioned the resolution’s relevance given current circumstances.
“We're in the middle of a pandemic. We've got over 400,000 people that are drawing unemployment that are out of work. We got businesses trying to open. People want to know when they will be able to go back to school. We’ve got half our childcare centers closed,” McMaster said. “Now's not the time to be having an academic argument over those kind of things.”
Mayor White holds media briefing
Mayor Knox White is holding a Joint Media Briefing at 1 p.m. at the Greenville Convention Center. He and other state medical professionals and business leaders will provide updates and answer questions.
New unemployment claims down but SC's jobless rate rises to 12.5%
New unemployment insurance claims by South Carolina workers fell for the fourth week in a row last week, but the overall jobless outlook — and condition of the state's unemployment trust fund — remain grim.
Here's what to know Friday
- State superintendent Molly Spearman said it will cost $398 million to keep the state's K-8 schools open an extra six days, offer a four-week summer course, purchase extra supplies and outfit teachers with personal protective gear. Officials have yet to make a final decision on whether or not to extend the school year.
- After months of uncertainty because of the coronavirus, Greenville County Schools announced it will have graduation ceremonies in-person at Bon Secours Wellness Arena May 27-June 4. Officials had considered holding virtual graduations, but said Thursday that ceremonies would be held with special measures in place to prevent spreading COVID-19.
- State Department of Health and Environmental Control documents show hundreds of people living and working in nursing homes in Greenville County are considered particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
- State health officials on Thursday reported 172 new cases of the COVID-19 and nine additional deaths. Since early March, 8,189 people in South Carolina tested positive for the virus and 371 have died.