YORK COUNTY, S.C. — South Carolina is working to slowly reopen the state and for the first time since the coronavirus spread, some people will be able to do more outside of their homes.
Gov. Henry McMaster’s order opening public boat ramps went into effect at noon Friday. It is a tiny, baby step to what the governor hopes will be a carefully planned, staggered reopening of the state that will have the economy “humming” by the end of June.
However the revision also authorizes the managing authority of the boat landings and ramps to keep them closed if they feel it is necessary to protect public health.
The revision does not change the previous executive orders enforcing social or physical distancing guidelines. In addition, boats are limited to groups of no more than two people with the exception of family members from the same household.
Beaches remain closed along with most everything else outside of grocery stores, pharmacies, home improvement stores and medical facilities.
Officials are starting to plan the state’s reopening even as COVID-19 continues to spread.
South Carolina reported more than 3,900 cases and 109 deaths as of Thursday afternoon, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Health officials continue to investigate why COVID-19 is infecting and killing African Americans at a higher rate. Blacks make up 27% of South Carolina’s population, but are 41% of the people infected and 56% of the people in the state killed by the coronavirus, according to DHEC.
So far, DHEC and private labs have combined to administer about 36,000 tests. Health officials said testing must increase to be able to reopen businesses and other public places so there is a better idea exactly how many people have been infected. DHEC estimates the number of COVID-19 cases in the state is nine to 10 times the nearly 4,000 people known to be infected.