Coronavirus updates in SC: Greenville postpones more events, closes playgrounds
Note: The coronavirus outbreak is a rapidly developing event, and this story contains information that was only updated through March 27, 2020. Some of the information here may have changed because of the breaking nature of the pandemic; updates are reflected in more current stories. For our the latest on the coronavirus outbreak and its impact on South Carolina visit greenvillenews.com or independentmail.com.
Related Coverage:What you need to know about Coronavirus in South Carolina
More Coverage: Coronavirus updates from the U.S. and around the world
City of Greenville postpones events through May 10
City permitted events scheduled through May 10 are postponed, according to a statement from the city. The city is expected to release an updated event list online within 24 hours.
"While we recognize this decision is undoubtedly disappointing, our top priority is protecting the health and well-being of our residents," City Manager John McDonough said. "We will continue to be proactive in taking the appropriate measures to mitigate the spread of the virus and safeguard those who are at the highest risk."
City playgrounds and fitness stations are also closed because the equipment is touched frequently and cannot be cleaned often enough to prevent the spread of germs or the COVID-19 virus, the statement read.
— Haley Walters
YMCA of Greenville announces changes
YMCA branches in the Upstate will have different hours and restricted services beginning Tuesday until March 31.
The YMCA Program Center-Prisma Health on Adams Mill Road will close beginning Tuesday. Other facilities will close at 7:30 p.m. and between 2-3 p.m. for additional cleaning besides for after school programming.
Non-essential programs will be suspended until March 31, including: Youth sports, swim lessons, all group exercise classes, personal training and other programs. Some areas will be closed for use, including: sauna/steam rooms, hot tubs, basketball gyms and childwatch areas.
— Haley Walters
Greenville County Schools expands free meal service
Greenville County Schools will on Thursday begin handing out meals 10 a.m. to noon at more locations around the county - adding to the 15 locations already providing breakfast and lunch this week.
Anyone younger than 18, and special needs adults up to 21, can have a free lunch and breakfast. Both meals can be picked up at one time to eliminate the need for multiple trips each day.
On Sunday, Governor Henry McMaster announced mandatory closure of all schools in South Carolina to slow the spread of the novel COVID-19.
— Lillia Callum-Penso, Haley Walters
Greenville Water closes lobby
Greenville Water customers beginning Tuesday morning will not be able to pay their bill in person. The utility provider is closing its lobby until further notice in response to COVID-19 concerns.
"We take the safety and well-being of our customers and workforce very seriously," Greenville Water CEO David Bereskin said. "The decision to close our lobby to the public will help to avoid the potential spread of the virus and conform with social distancing as recommended by governmental agencies."
Greenville Water customers can pay their bills online, over the phone, through banking apps, through the mail, at a drop box located at 407 W. Broad Street or at a Check Free Pay location.
— Haley Walters
DHEC investigating five more cases
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said Monday the agency was investigating five additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of cases in the state to 33.
Four of the new cases were in Kershaw County who had contact with a previously reported case. Those people are isolated at home. Another case is an older person in Lexington County. That person is in isolation at a healthcare facility.
— Haley Walters
SENIOR Solutions closes senior centers
SENIOR Solutions closed senior centers in Anderson, Seneca and Walhalla as well as Adult Daycares in Anderson and Seneca out of an abundance of caution, according to a press release Monday afternoon. Home-delivered meals, non-emergency medical trips, and personal care aides will continue to be offered.
SENIOR Solutions last month served nearly 43,000 home-delivered meals and made nearly 7,000 non-emergency medical appointments for Upstate clients.
Case workers will call clients for wellness checks. Seniors who want to be on a wellness call list can call 864-225-3370 to sign up, or they can email email@example.com.
— Haley Walters
Some court proceedings, bench warrants postponed statewide
All jury trials in South Carolina are postponed as of Monday afternoon according to a series of memos to court officials from Chief Justice Donald Beatty.
Bench warrants for failure appear shouldn't be granted. Anyone charged with a non-capital crime should be released pending trial on their own recognizance without surety, unless they pose an unreasonable danger to the community or have an extreme flight risk, a memo read.
Courthouses across the state will remain available for the public to file papers and make payments. If a courthouse does temporarily close, there should be signs to direct people to the nearest alternate location.
Some court dates could be rescheduled as necessary and some hearings may be held remotely over video or telephone, as a last resort.
— Haley Walters
Law Enforcement Center limits public access
The Law Enforcement Center is restricting some public access to the building due to COVID-19 concerns. The LEC houses the Greenville County Sheriff's Office and city of Greenville Police Department.
Anyone looking to file an incident report that does not have physical evidence to turn over to an officer should call the agency to report it.
Reports for the Sheriff's Office can be made at 864-467-5300 (Option 1)
Reports for city police can be made at 864-467-5258 (Option 6)
— Haley Walters
Kroc Center closing to members, guests
The Kroc Center has announced that it will close to members and guests March 17-29. The Kroc Tennis Center will remain open for regular play, lessons, and clinics, with no more than four players per court.
All scheduled events will be rescheduled, and current members will have an extra two weeks added to their memberships.
— Donna Isbell Walker
Upstate International canceling events
Upstate International will postpone all events scheduled for the Upstate International Center or hosted by the organization at an outside venue, through the beginning of April.
That includes the April 1 annual members meeting. And spring semester language classes, scheduled to begin March 23, will be postponed until April 6.
— Donna Isbell Walker
Greenville Technical College extends spring break
Greenville Technical College extended its spring break through next week as the school prepares to move classes online.
Spring break started this week for students and staff and will now last until March 30, when the college plans on offering instruction online. Teachers will spend the week of March 23-27 preparing for online instruction. The college announced on Monday that classes will likely be taught online for the rest of the semester.
The college has also canceled all events and has closed the school's Child Development Center through March 31. The college has asked that any employees who can work remotely do so.
Check here for updates about the college's schedule.
— Ariel Gilreath
Greer utility to help customers unable to pay their bills
Greer CPW will donate $25,000 to Greer Relief, an organization that works to prevent hunger and homelessness, in the Greater Greer area.
The funds will earmarked for utility assistance for people unable to pay their bill.
In addition to the donation, several precautions have been put in place to protect customers and the community. These precautions are subject to change and will be formally announced via the website and social media.
Customers can contact Greer Relief for assistance with paying their bill by calling 864-848-5355 ext. 1
— Angelia Davis
Episcopal churches from Upstate to the Midlands canceling worship gatherings through March
The Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina will make a decision by the end of next week to determine whether the ban will extend into Easter holy week, Rev. Bishop Andrew Waldo said in a message to the organization's more than 23,000 members.
The diocese governs churches from Upstate down to the Midlands.
"The guidance from public health officials is changing by the hour," Waldo wrote. "Yet our call as Christians is clear: We are called to love our neighbor, and right now one of the best ways we can do that is to help slow the spread of the coronavirus."
The bishop has encouraged churches to provide online worship access if able.
— Eric Connor
Prisma health starts drive-through coronavirus testing
Prisma Health on Monday began offering limited drive-through COVID-19 testing for patients with electronic orders from a Prisma provider or from a virtual visit provider.
Testing will be done in Greenville at Prisma's Greenville Memorial Medical Campus on the lower level of the South Parking Deck.
The site will operate from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
— Liv Osby
Arts organizations announce schedule changes
The Anderson Symphony Orchestra has canceled its May 3 concert and all remaining rehearsals for the season, and the Greater Anderson Musical Arts Consortium's April 17 concert will be canceled.
Centre Stage is postponing the openings of its upcoming Mainstage and Fringe series productions. The opening of "9 to 5 The Musical" will be postponed until April 9, and the opening of "'Night Mother" will now be April 21.
Upcountry History Museum will be closed, beginning March 17.
Greenville County Museum of Art will be closed through March 29. Offices remain open. Scheduled tours may be rescheduled by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The Greenville Center for Creative Arts has announced it will cancel classes and workshops through March 22. A decision about scheduling for next week will be announced March 20.
The Main Gallery and studio spaces will remain open, but visitors, staff, artists, and volunteers are asked to stay away if they have a cough, cold, or fever.
The Children's Music of the Upstate is closing through March 31, and all scheduled events, including camps and birthday parties, will be rescheduled. Families with reservations for events will be contacted individually about alternative options.
The museum will reopen "under the guidance of public health officials," according to a statement on TCMU website.
— Donna Isbell Walker
South Carolina reports first coronavirus death
The State Department of Health and Environmental Control reported the first death related to the coronavirus on Monday.
In a press release, DHEC said an elderly person recently reported to have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and who was a resident of Lexington Medical Center Extended Care Skilled Nursing Facility died
Gov. Henry McMaster responded to the news on Twitter Monday. "We are saddened by the news of the first death in South Carolina due to COVID-19. Our hearts and prayers are with the family and the community. (1/2)," McMaster's account tweeted. "South Carolinians must continue to support each other through prayer, through common sense, by taking precautions and by demonstrating courtesy and compassion. (2/2)"
— Elizabeth LaFleur
ACT reschedules college entrance exam date from April to June
ACT Inc. has rescheduled its testing date for the college entrance exam from April 4 to June 13.
Any students who are registered to take the exam should receive an email from the company in the next few days to let them know about the change and any steps that need to be taken, ACT said in a statement released Monday.
— Ariel Gilreath
Greenville County Council cancels all meetings
Greenville County government had multiple meetings scheduled for this week; all have now been postponed due to concerns about large gatherings amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The county's first COVID-19 case was announced Sunday.
"It's an evolving situation, and we have to assess almost continuously to see when it's appropriate to reschedule," Greenville County Council Chairman Butch Kirven told The News. "We hope it's not too long. Possibly next week."
Kirven said Greenville County emergency preparedness operations are ongoing and are issuing daily reports.
Greenville County government's headquarters at County Square will remain open, Kirven said, for regular county business such as paying taxes and getting records from probate court or register of deeds.
— Anna B. Mitchell
Some city of Greenville meetings scheduled for this week are canceled
The city announced midday today that meetings for the Planning Commission's Wednesday workshop, South Downtown Master Plan, and Consolidated Plan are canceled.
The next scheduled City Council meeting is March 23, City Spokeswoman Beth Brotherton said. The city's regular Planning Commission meeting will be conducted on Thursday.
— Eric Connor
March and April elections in South Carolina postponed
All upcoming South Carolina elections scheduled in March and April have been postponed, Gov. Henry McMaster announced Sunday. They will be rescheduled to occur after May 1, 2020.
In the Upstate this announcement affects the following elections:
- City of Mauldin Special Election for vacant city council seat (Greenville County) will be rescheduled from original date of March 31
- Town of Pelzer Special Election (Anderson County) will be rescheduled from original date of March 31
- Town of Due West Special Election (Abbeville County) will be rescheduled from original date of March 31
- City of Anderson General Election (Anderson County) will be rescheduled from original date of April 7
- Roebuck Fire District Referendum (Spartanburg County) will be rescheduled from original date of April 14
- Abbeville County School Board Special Election ) will be rescheduled from original date of April 28
- Laurens County School District 55 Special Election will be rescheduled from original date of April 28
- Spartanburg County School District 3 Referendum will be rescheduled from original date of April 28
- Town of Pacolet Special Election (Spartanburg County) will be rescheduled from original date of April 28
The announcement does not affect the March filing period for prospective candidates. That period opens at 12 p.m. Monday, March 16 and will close at noon on March 30, according to the South Carolina Election Commission.
— Gabe Cavallaro
Ask LaFleur: What's the best way to support local businesses during coronavirus?
Question: How can we support our local businesses during the COVID-19 concerns? Besides buying gift certificates to help their current bottom line, I’m unsure.
Answer: Let me start by saying I hope this column opens up a conversation. If you run a business and have additional ways people can be of support, my email is email@example.com and I'm more than happy to share those ideas.
There's a great resource now available for customers and business owners to find ways to show support or be supported through this time. Emily Copp, of The Chocolate Moose, and others in the community worked to put together a website killcovidnotsmallbizgvl.com that includes details about things individual restaurants, bars, coffee shops and retailers are doing to provide safe ways for customers to be supportive.
— Elizabeth LaFleur
Mauldin, Fountain Inn, Travelers Rest, Greer, Simpsonville announce schedule, operations changes
- The Mauldin Cultural Center production of "Annie Jr.," set for March 20-22 and 27-29, has been canceled. A decision about rescheduling has not yet been made.
- The Ray Hopkins Senior Center will be closed until April 6.
- All city recreation activities, including youth baseball, softball, lacrosse, flag football, and adult basketball, will be suspended until April 6.
- The Egg Drop event, scheduled for April 4, has been canceled.
- Sports Center hours of operation will be changed to 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Sunday hours will not change.
- Public access to city facilities is restricted to appointment-only. Standing appointments may be postponed.
- Municipal Court scheduled for March 17 is canceled.
- Fountain Inn Natural Gas is suspending cut-offs until March 31. The Fountain Inn Natural Gas office is closed to the public, and residents are encouraged to make payments online or at the office drive-through.
- All recreation programs are canceled through March 31, but playgrounds and open fields will remain open.
- Senior activities are suspended through the end of the month, and the Activities Center will remain closed through March 31.
- No permits will be issued for events on Fountain Inn public property through March 31.
- The Autism Awareness 5K, set for March 21, is rescheduled to April 25.
- Effective Monday, March 16, access to City Hall and Fire Department will be restricted.
- Payments will be accepted over the phone, online and by mail.
- Permits, licensing, records requests, and payment assistance will be handled online or by phone.
- City events are postponed through Friday, April 17 (other events will be rescheduled when possible).
- City Council and other public meetings will be hosted via live video on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DiscoverTravelersRestSC/
- All parks and recreation sports programming games and practices are postponed until after April 4.
- Members of the public who must conduct business with City of Greer offices are asked to do so by phone, email, or through www.cityofgreer.org, whenever possible. City facilities remain open and are subject to increased cleaning measures, including daily fumigation and requiring employees to sanitize their hands before and after every transaction.
- Curbside residential trash and recyclables collection will continue on a regular schedule. The City Recycling Center on Buncombe St. will also operateon its regular schedule.
- All afterschool programs, recreation programs, and athletic practices and games are suspended until further notice. Seniors programs are also suspended.
- The City has made the decision to cancel two of its major spring events: The Eggtastic Easter Event scheduled for April 4 at Greer City Park and The Greer Goes Global International Festival scheduled for April 18 at Greer City Park.
- Jury trials and traffic court are suspended until further notice.
- CenterG electric shuttles have suspended until further notice.
- City officials will continue to coordinate with health officials to make decisions about other public events. Announcements about those events will be posted on the City’s website and social media platforms.
- Private events scheduled at the Events Center at Greer City Hall and Cannon Centre will be held at the discretion of the event sponsor.
- Travel to training and conferences has been suspended for City employees.
- Employees who display coronavirus symptoms or suspects he or she may have been exposed to the virus is expected to self-quarantine.
- Playgrounds: Precision Pro Wash LLC will provide free sanitizing of City playground equipment. Heritage Park and City Park playgrounds will be closed 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. on March 19 for cleaning. Alder, College Street, Anglewood and Tebblewood parks playgrounds will be closed 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. on March 23 for cleaning.
- Access to public buildings will be restricted. There will be no public access to the Activity & Senior Center, CentrePlex at Heritage Park, all fire stations, including the administration building, public works offices.
Municipal Court is cancelled. The public is directed not to enter City Hall to inquire about court appearances. Only phone calls and emails will be accepted. The court can be reached at 864-967-9526 ext. 304, firstname.lastname@example.org for the Honorable Judge Ashley Clark and email@example.com for Assistant Clerk of Court Kimber Strong. See "Simpsonville Municipal Court" under "supporting documents" for information about court date rescheduling.
City Hall will remain open, but it is requested that the public conduct business by phone and Internet and only enter City Hall if absolutely necessary. Signs will be posted at the entrances of City Hall requesting that persons comply with these measures.
Regularly scheduled meetings of Simpsonville City Council will continue, but the public is encouraged to visit www.simpsonville.com to access the link to a live stream of the meetings.
The Simpsonville Police Department will remain open during normal business hours; however, all non-emergency reports will only be taken by phone to minimize contact. Again, the public is asked to please adhere to CDC recommendations by only entering the building if absolutely necessary.
The Simpsonville Activity & Senior Center will be closed until April 19, upon which the city will reevaluate conditions. All activities there are cancelled.
All spring sports, including baseball, softball, flag football and volleyball, are postponed until April 20. The postponement includes practices.
The Simpsonville Athletic Office at Heritage Park is closed to the public effective 5 p.m. on March 16 until April 19. Staff at the Athletic Office can be reached by calling 864-228-0022 Monday-Friday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Heritage Park Railway will be closed until April 20. Follow @HeritageParkRailway on Facebook for updates.
All shelter rentals are cancelled.
The Great EggVenture scheduled for April 4 at Heritage Park is cancelled.
Shred Day scheduled for April 17 at Heritage Park is cancelled.
Simply Beautiful CleanUp Day scheduled for April 18 is cancelled.
— Donna Isbell Walker, Angelia Davis and Gabe Cavallaro
United Way, others launch COVID-19 Community Relief Fund
United Way of Greenville County, Hollingsworth Funds, the Community Foundation of Greenville and Jolley Foundation launched a COVID-19 Community Relief Fund to assist those in Greenville County who are vulnerable and in need of resources during the Pandemic.
100% of donations to the fund will support efforts to provide relief to people and organizations impacted, according to a press release shared about the fund.
The focus will be on supporting local nonprofit organizations working with affected individuals and the most vulnerable populations. It will also coordinate with Greenville County Schools and social service organizations and businesses to support children and families, hourly wage earners, workers in the gig economy, older adults, people living with disabilities and other vulnerable communities, the release said.
Donations can be made to the fund at unitedwaygc.org/response.
— Elizabeth LaFleur
Charter, Comcast offer free internet service to some families for 60 days
Several internet providers have agreed to provide free Wi-Fi and broadband services to certain families for 60 days, and many have suspended data caps.
Charter Spectrum announced the company would give families with college or K-12 students free broadband and Wi-Fi for 60 days if they do not already have Spectrum. Comcast said it would give low-income families 60 days of free internet access.
Never been in an eLearning situation?:Here's how it will work for many K-12 schools in South Carolina
Several companies, including Comcast and AT&T, have also suspended data caps on their internet plans while more families are staying home to limit the spread of coronavirus.
To enroll for the 60-day free Charter Spectrum service, call 1-844-488-8395.
— Ariel Gilreath
Clemson extends online instruction, suspends events through April 5
Following Governor Henry McMaster's Sunday order to close all public schools, Clemson University is extending online instruction and suspending on-campus events through at least April 5.
McMaster ordered South Carolina public schools and universities to close until March 31, citing the growing coronavirus pandemic. In a Sunday evening message to students and employees, Clemson President Jim Clements saidonline instruction would be extended through at April 5 to comply with McMaster's orders.
"If you don't absolutely need to be on campus during this period, please stay home."
— Zoe Nicholson
COVID-19 cases being investigated in Greenville, Anderson
Dr. Linda Bell of the state Department of Health and Environmental Control said Sunday nine new cases of the novel coronavirus are being investigated, including two in Anderson County and one in Greenville County.
Across the state by Sunday evening, there were 28 cases where tests were positive for the disease, according to DHEC. To date, the state has tested 263 people, with 235 coming back free of the virus.
The three Upstate cases along with three new cases in Kershaw County and three new cases in Horry County bring total infected people in South Carolina to 28 — up nine from Saturday.
AnMed Health announced separately that the infected individuals there are in isolation, and AnMed officials have asked people to stop visiting the hospital if possible.
The infected person in Greenville — a young adult — recently traveled in Spain and is currently in isolation at home, according to a statement from DHEC.
Bell said her agency's investigation indicates none of the infections were from a common point source. In other words, the infected individuals appear to have acquired the virus through person-to-person exposure, not in a crowded setting like a church or movie theater.
"We don't have any evidence to suggest that because we have a way of mapping cases," Bell said. "If there is an exposure in a setting like a church, we would see a large spike."
State leaders focus on limiting virus spread
With more than 3,000 confirmed cases and more than 60 related deaths reported nationwide by Sunday afternoon, authorities are moving to mitigate the spread of the disease.
At a press conference where Gov. Henry McMaster announced South Carolina's public schools would be closed through March, McMaster and Bell repeated health officials’ refrains urging social distancing, good personal hygiene to include handwashing and limiting exposure to at-risk populations, including the elderly.
McMaster said he is strongly discouraging gatherings of more than 100 people. He also said all local and municipal elections will be postponed until after May 1, though filing for offices will continue as usual.
“Our top priorities have been and will continue to be preventing the spread of disease and protecting the public health,” Bell said. “We know that many South Carolinians are concerned about what impact this virus may have on themselves, their loved ones and this state. The number of cases that ultimately occur will depend in part on all of our efforts to practice good personal hygiene like handwashing and protecting others by staying home when ill.”
She said the state has plenty of testing kits but that officials are using them sparingly so that they do not run into shortages as infections spread. DHEC and other labs have the ability to run 300 to 400 test samples a day, a number that the state has not come close to needing.
— Anna B. Mitchell
Anderson sheriff activates emergency plan
In a statement Sunday evening, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Management Division announced it had activated the county’s Emergency Operations and Joint Information Centers due to DHEC's report of two positive COVID-19 cases in the county.
The statement also said the sheriff's office had increased its "operating condition level" to OPCON 2.
— Anna B. Mitchell
South Carolina public schools close statewide
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, South Carolina public schools will not resume classes until at least April.
"All the decisions that we have made thus far have been to do one thing, and that’s to save lives of the people of South Carolina,” Gov. Henry McMaster said during a press conference Sunday afternoon. “Parents, if you’ve not done so already, now is the time to explain to your children, in an age-appropriate way, how serious the coronavirus situation is.”
— Anna B. Mitchell