Mar 27, 2020

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster and Senator Lindsay Graham Coronavirus Briefing Transcript March 27

South Carolina Coronavirus Update Lindsay Graham and Governor
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsSouth Carolina Governor Henry McMaster and Senator Lindsay Graham Coronavirus Briefing Transcript March 27

South Carolina governor Henry McMaster was joined by Senator Lindsay Graham for a COVID-19 press conference on March 27. McMaster ordered visitors from coronavirus “hot spots” to self-quarantine upon arrival. Read the full transcript here.

 

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Henry McMaster: (26:13)
Well, you all, thank you for coming out again, and we’ll start with Chaplain John Denny.

John Denny: (26:20)
Good afternoon. Since 1777, part of the state motto of South Carolina has read, “While I breathe, I hope.” And that has continued, that spirit of South Carolina, has continued through battles, through adversity, through trials that South Carolina has had. And that spirit’s still alive today. So in that spirit, I ask that you please pray with me if you’re a praying person.

John Denny: (26:45)
Gracious God, the Bible says faith is confidence in what we hope for. It’s evidence of things we cannot see. During this time, God, give us the faith, confidence, and hope in you. Help us to experience you in the whispers of our lives. Help us with every breath to continue to have hope, and always help us to be South Carolina strong, South Carolina proud. Amen.

Henry McMaster: (27:14)
Thank you, sir. We also want to thank Holly May for being with us today and Josie McDaniel-Burkett. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a good bit of information to give out today. We are making progress. The one thing I would like to announce is I’ve just issued another executive order. There’s a mandatory quarantine. We know that there are hot spots around the country. They’ve been identified, some very clearly. Others are being identified now. But by the authority vested in me by the statutes and the constitution, I’ve issued another executive order that requires those people coming into our state, regardless of whether they came from our state or someplace else, if they’re coming to South Carolina from one of those hot spots, they must self-quarantine for 14 days, for two weeks, and there is a criminal penalty attached for failure to comply with that executive order, and the executive order mentions, specifically, the states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and also the city of New Orleans, all of which have been identified as hot spots.

Henry McMaster: (28:22)
Dr. Bell.

Dr. Bell: (28:27)
Thank you, Governor. Good afternoon. As of today, South Carolina has confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 39 counties. This includes 86 additional cases across the state. The county-by-county case counts are posted on our website and updated daily. Unfortunately, it is with great sadness that I also report the loss of four more of our fellow South Carolinians, who have been confirmed to have COVID-19 infection. And this brings the state’s total number of deaths to 13. And as always, our sympathy and hearts go out to the family and friends of these individuals and to all of those who have lost their loved ones to COVID-19 infection.

Dr. Bell: (29:15)
I can’t express strongly enough the importance of all of us to take the necessary actions to protect ourselves, our families, and our community by continuing to practice social distancing, staying at home and away from others, and particularly when ill, and frequently washing your hands to prevent the spread of germs. DHEC has deployed 600 staff across the state to respond to this ongoing public health threat, and to date, we have responded to reports of 539 confirmed cases from our public health laboratory and private laboratories.

Dr. Bell: (29:54)
Yesterday, we reported on a shortage of chemicals needed to perform testing on COVID-19 nationwide and within South Carolina, including at our DHEC public health laboratory. But since that time, our innovative public health laboratory team has been able to recreate a component of our extraction supplies, of our extraction supplies that was on back order, and resume testing late yesterday. The vendor supply arrived this morning, and currently, the public health lab is working through a backlog of approximately 1800 samples waiting to be tested.

Dr. Bell: (30:33)
We also continue to work with healthcare providers to stay updated on the availability of hospital beds and ventilators throughout the state. This includes taking proactive precautions to increase the number of potential beds available. As of earlier today, our statewide hospital bed capacity was at 54%, with 6734 beds currently utilized, which is a 308-bed decrease from Monday. In addition, 1085 ventilators are currently available in South Carolina, and 180 are in use, or at 14% capacity.

Dr. Bell: (31:11)
While we continue to work with our hospitals to shore up beds and other supplies, we remind individuals that CDC has warned that this is a historic, unprecedented outbreak and that supplies are limited. We do not recommend that everyone who is ill get a test just to see if they have COVID-19 infection. For people with symptoms who wouldn’t necessarily see a doctor, we advise them to stay home and get better if their symptoms are mild and seek medical care only if the symptoms are worsening. This will allow our healthcare systems and our providers to give care to those who need it most. It will also help protect those on the frontlines at our hospitals, clinics, and other critical infrastructure areas so that they can continue to protect all of us as we work together to combat-

Dr. Bell: (32:03)
So that they can continue to protect all of us as we work together to combat this disease. It is critical that we all do our part to protect ourselves and others and to do that, we must be vigilant about taking precautions encouraged by public health experts and for the latest information, please visit our webpage at scdhec.gov/covid19.

Henry McMaster: (32:22)
Thank you Ma’am. Senator Graham.

Lindsay Graham: (32:23)
Thank you governor. I know I speak for Tim. We’re glad to be home. It’s been a tough week in Washington. The President is going to sign the biggest relief package in the history of the nation just in a few minutes, two point $2 trillion. That’s more than we spend on discretionary spending in the entire year. It’s larger than the new deal. There’s a lot of things in there I don’t like, but there are a lot of things in there that are going to save lives. I just got briefed by the Governor and his team. I’ve never felt more proud to be a South Carolinian than I do now. People know what they’re doing in that room. Your decision to stop elective surgeries when the hospitals and the doctors stepped up and said they would do that has created bed space in South Carolina and a lot of people would would covet. That was a great decision.

Lindsay Graham: (33:18)
Your decision to really impose socia distancing in a serious way is going to help us with the infection rate. So we’ve got a good team. We’re in good hands. Now what does this bill mean to you? Everybody in South Carolina who makes under $75,000 a year will be getting $1,200 as an individual, $2,400 as a couple, $500 per child. That is a lot of money, but it will help keep the lights on and the refrigerator stocked. If you’re on social security and you haven’t paid income taxes, you get a check. If you’re on disability and you don’t pay income taxes, you get a check. This money is coming. It’s going to take a couple of weeks, but it will be coming. There’s $150 billion in this bill to help States and municipalities and counties that have had to spend money they never allocated to deal with this virus.

Lindsay Graham: (34:14)
We deal with hurricanes very well. This is a hurricane is not going to leave anytime soon. So this $150 billion will be a godsend to the state of South Carolina to replenish the coffers. There’s another line item that is very important. $16 billion to buy the supplies we need to win this war. The special forces in this war are your nurses and your doctors and your healthcare professionals. They’re the ones that meet the disease every day head on. The rest of us are soldiers in this fight. The war on terror, 1% of us had been fighting that war. The war against the virus we’re 100% we’re all in.

Lindsay Graham: (34:53)
What can you do? Follow the guidelines. This disease will be starved if we follow governor’s guidelines. It needs humans to transmit itself. The more we follow the guidelines to more we starved the disease. Finally, there’s sort of a war going on here between the virus and trying to stabilize the economy. Here’s I think the strategy to destroy this virus. Between now and the summer, we’re going to have to really focus on good containment policy to keep the virus from spreading. The more you do your part, the sooner we’ll get out of this. Eventually, sooner rather than later, we’re going to have therapies. Dr. Bell drug therapies that will whack the heck out of this virus that will make it less lethal. That will take it from a 10 to one or two.

Lindsay Graham: (35:42)
Hopefully by the fall or the early part of the next year, we’ll have a vaccine to kill it. Between now and then, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. We’re going to have an economy locked down for a while to come and we’ll reopen it based on sound science. The worst thing possible is to try to create a bump in the economy that leads to a spike in the virus. Heat is an enemy of this virus. I’m hoping we’ll get some relief in the summer, but I know it’s coming back in the fall. The more we do now to get ready for the fall, the better off we’ll be.

Lindsay Graham: (36:21)
So we’re working overtime to find drug therapies to help people get through their hospitalization and maybe keep them out of the hospital to take it from a 10 to one or two and the ultimate solution is a vaccine. President Trump is spending 24 hours a day with his team to do what we can at the federal level. This bill is going to help a lot. Help is on the way.

Henry McMaster: (36:49)
Thank you, Senator Graham, Senator Scott.

Senator Scott: (36:53)
Thank you Governor. Governor and those who have been doing these daily briefings, thank you very much. It certainly provides confidence to South Carolinians throughout this state. It provides information and it provides clarity, so thank you all for the hard work and the dedication that we see every single day on TV. It is making a difference. It is saving lives. I will tell you that perhaps one of the more heartwarming conversations I’ve had with citizens around the state is when you stood behind a podium and talked about having the buses, bringing meals to the kids and neighborhoods, rather you go to that school or not. Folks who live in that neighborhood have been lining up and my hometown now of Hanahan to get access to those meals. I can’t tell you the number of single mothers who have talked about how their conscience and their burden has been relieved and lifted because of what you and your team has done on behalf of people who are looking for hope.

Senator Scott: (37:58)
So I’m not sure all the good news, I do know that that is remarkable leadership from you. As it relates to the legislation itself there are a lot to celebrate within the legislation. I’ll name just a few. One, there’s four and a half billion dollars going to the CDC, $11 billion specifically targeting vaccines and other therapies. There’s $45 billion for FEMA to be able to ramp up around the country and bring more resources home. There’s over a hundred billion dollars for hospitals in the bill and specifically for small businesses that have been negatively impacted laying off employees seeing a drop in revenues. There’s approximately $350 billion that you can tap into.

Senator Scott: (38:45)
The process is rather simple, not completely simple, but rather simple. It’s a basically a 250% of your monthly payroll would be the maximum loan possible. If you use the resources for your payroll or for your overhead, like your rent or your mortgage, that portion of the loan use for those purposes will be forgiven. Your first payment starts a year from now and at that time it would become a 10 year note with an interest rate not above 4%. the goal is to secure the relationship between employers and employees. The best and most effective way for us to stymie the utilization of the unemployment system is to give an incentive to employers to maintain the healthy relationship for employees. That is a really important and spectacular part of this legislation. There’s certainly money for those businesses, that I just described is for 500 employees or fewer. For larger employees, mid size and larger employers there is a resource available through what we call a commercial facility paper that would provide loans as well.

Henry McMaster: (40:04)
Thank you.

Senator Scott: (40:06)
Yes sir.

Henry McMaster: (40:06)
Are there ll the any questions?

Speaker 3: (40:07)
Yes. Governor today, the Attorney General said that basically cities don’t have the legal authority to enact their own stay at home bands. What do you think of that opinion? And what do you think should happen going forward?

Henry McMaster: (40:18)
We have a very fine Attorney General in staff and solicitor general and their pronouncements are a very good, I believe. The things that we have asked people to do as you know from the signs we’ve had on the South, the blinking, that the Secretary of Education has put up for four weeks now saying stay home. All of these measures that we’ve taken if everyone would do the things that we suggested from this podium and otherwise, we would be in very good shape. One reason we are doing better than some of the other States now is because the South Carolinians are following these recommendations and suggestions.

Speaker 4: (41:00)
Do you think that the orders are that Columbia and Charleston put in place, do you think those are illegal?

Henry McMaster: (41:08)
I am concerned and we are working to see that we keep as many people working as we can. We want to keep as many people safe as we can. We want to keep as many people out of harm’s way as we can, issued orders on congregations, or groups of three or on more that the law enforcement can disperse if they are a threat. We’ve closed the schools as half a million school children. Senator Scott mentioned how the meals in a quiet remarkable fashion, with Superintendent Spearman and her people, have been able to get to meals to all of those people and more.

Henry McMaster: (41:44)
We have urged people to keep that social distance and those are the things that we are going to continue to do. We are following the science, and the data, and the knowledge and the experience of the experts like Dr. Bell and others and devising the precise path, the best and most aggressive paths that we can take. Next question.

Speaker 4: (42:09)
What’s the-

Henry McMaster: (42:10)
[crosstalk 00:42:10] Yes sir? Was that a question?

Speaker 5: (42:12)
Yes. With employees going to work if there’s an infection in their employment where they work, should that business shut down? What type of action should they take?

Henry McMaster: (42:21)
What the business should do is follow the recommendations and advice of the CDC which has been provided many times by Department of Health and Environmental Control. Would you like to respond please?

Dr. Bell: (42:37)
Sure. We don’t recommend that entire business shut down just because a single person has been identified with COVID-19. It can vary from the work setting, but in general we focus on the close contacts, people who’ve had close, prolonged face to face contact with someone who is ill. So the casual contacts who might be present in a business setting, it is of no value to actually close the business setting, in that instance, we recommend closures and discourage large groups because of the possibility that there could be somebody in a population unrecognized and that’s how diseases spread. But we also want to maintain, as has been said, employment and so they’re really different situations. But we know that there’s a lot of concern about people saying that there may have been a worker in my work site who’s ill, but that’s not an indication to just close a business.

Speaker 3: (43:31)
Dr. Bell, while you’re there, MUSC’s Dr Edward. O’Brien has said we could actually have 10 to 24 times the number of confirmed positive cases. Is that possible that we could really have 4,500, 11,000 people out there we don’t know about?

Dr. Bell: (43:47)
Well, some of these projections seem unlikely and they’re based on to other populations that not might not be valid. If we look at something like a New York City population that might have over 100 people per square mile versus in South Carolina where we generally have fewer than 20 people per square mile. So our living conditions and other factors, when we monitor disease reports to make speculations about the shape of the curve… As I’ve mentioned that there can be delays in reporting and there can be a large jump in reports on a single day that can frame the shape of that curve. But that is a fictitious elevation and a curve just because samples are held.

Dr. Bell: (44:38)
So some of this modeling is based on simply delays in reporting or delays in turning out test results. What we believe is… Are more accurate representations is that we wouldn’t, or we’re unlikely to see an exponential rise in cases in South Carolina. We recognize that cases are going to continue to increase. How steeply that increase continues depends on the effectiveness of the social distancing measures. We can flatten that curve if people strictly observe the social distancing, stay home when you’re sick, and that can change the shape of the curve. So there’s a lot of speculation about that. But we doubt that, that will be that significant.

Henry McMaster: (45:25)
Next question.

Speaker 4: (45:27)
Dr. Bell, how many kids does South Carolina have? And what’s our capacity right now and how often is DHEC getting these kits and where are they coming from?

Mr. Davidson: (45:40)
As I think you heard, Dr. Bell mentioned, we were able to resume testing yesterday by bringing on more testing capacity and the reagents and the chemicals that we use. So we were also received some additional reagents this morning in the mail. We have promises of additional reagents coming. So we have more than enough to get rid of our backlog at this point in time. We have no indication that, at least in the coming days that we’re going to have a shortage.

Mr. Davidson: (46:09)
Now as time goes on, we’re going to have to monitor that there are shortages around the country. So we’re going to watch that closely. So I don’t want to promise you that we will be, we will be in perfect shape forever. But we’re continuing to work with our providers around the nation to get the vaccine, including the CDC and including partners within the state that may be able to provide us supplies as well. So we’re just going to have to watch it closely and it all depends on the number of tests that come in. But we’re good for the coming days at least. And we’ll be able to make up the backlog this weekend.

Speaker 6: (46:39)
You said vaccine, do you mean like the reagent.

Mr. Davidson: (46:41)
The reagent? Yes, absolutely.

Henry McMaster: (46:42)
Next question. Yes ma’am.

Speaker 7: (46:44)
Now you mentioned that testing has resumed. How many days was it stalled for? How many days did we have that shortage of chemicals?

Henry McMaster: (46:49)
Mr. Davidson.

Mr. Davidson: (46:52)
Thank you sir. We had two days of a backlog of testing and so at the state lab we pride ourselves in never having a backlog. So for us two days was a lot. We understand that some of the private labs are significantly more than that, but we will by this weekend have made up that backlog and be back to same day testing.

Speaker 3: (47:13)
Next question.

Speaker 8: (47:14)
Senator’s, I know it’s early in, the bill was just passed, but do we have any sort of breakdown in terms of anything, specific amounts South Carolina is getting?

Henry McMaster: (47:21)
Which Senator?

Speaker 8: (47:22)
If either senator can answer that.

Lindsay Graham: (47:26)
The minimum is $1.25 billion for a state. It’s $150 billion. There’ll be working on a formula I’m sure based on some existing federal formulas. As soon as we find out, we’ll call the Governor and make sure the money gets there as quick as possible. As to the individual checks. $1,000 per person, $500 per child under $75,000. That’s going to take a couple of weeks, hopefully no longer. Tim helped design the small business program. There are 1,700 restaurants in Myrtle Beach. Virtually all of them are shut down.

Lindsay Graham: (48:03)
… you’re at restaurants in Myrtle beach, virtually all of them are shut down and our goal is for them to be able to go to the bank, get a loan, keep the employees on the payroll, pay the rent, keep the lights on until this thing turns the corner, and we’ll forgive that loan for two-and-a-half months if they’ll keep people employed. That’s going to take some time. There are 800 qualified lenders under that program, we’re going to expand it dramatically so it’s going to take several weeks to get the money flowing, but when it does, it’s going to make a difference in the medical supplies. That’s huge for our hospitals, the protective equipment just as soon as we can get the money flowing, the better.

Henry McMaster: (48:38)
Senator Scott?

Speaker 11: (48:39)
Yes sir. $1200 per person, number one. I also would say that the formulas that exist within the Federal Government for the division of the resources throughout states will probably be tweaked a little bit as we think about the severity of the cases in different locations. There will probably be a formula that takes into consideration states that have high level high incidents versus the states that have fewer incidents. That’s why there is a minimum that, as Lindsey talked about, of the one point something billion dollars, that minimum is going to be applied to all states because all states are being impacted, but there’s a severity issue that will see more folks getting resources accordingly.

Speaker 12: (49:25)
Next question.

Speaker 13: (49:25)
Senator Graham, you had a Facebook Live earlier today, you said you had concerns about the medical supply chain. Do you believe that’s hindering the US’s ability to respond to this crisis now, or if it gets really bad?

Lindsay Graham: (49:37)
So let’s just … what have we learned? We’ve learned that our testing system is not where it needs to be and people in South Carolina are allocating the test they have available in a smart way. You can’t test everybody. You want to test people who are really sick and you want to test people who are in the healthcare frontlines to keep them in the fight.

Lindsay Graham: (49:59)
90% of antibiotic compounds are coming from China. So we’re in a country now where 90% of the antibiotic supply chain is located in China. Our goal is to bring some of that back so we’ll be less dependent. Our goal is to get the private sector involved in producing tests. Before the virus, it was a public testing program, the CDC and state public health organizations basically were in charge of testing. Now we’re getting the private sector more involved in testing and the goal by the summer is to have more tests.

Lindsay Graham: (50:39)
There are plenty of people that have had this and don’t know it, and if we could find out that their antibodies are built up, they can go back to work with zero problem. So the sooner we get testing, the better. But in terms of bringing our supply chain back to the United States, that should be the number one priority for the Congress for the rest of the year.

Speaker 13: (51:00)
How should we do that?

Lindsay Graham: (51:02)
Carrots and sticks. Carrots and sticks. Go to the medical companies and say, “I understand you went to China because it’s cheaper, =but our country’s at risk. We’re at war with this virus.” There are certain industries we’ve got to control within the United States. You’ve got to be able to feed yourself. You’ve got to be able to make weapons. You can’t depend on enemies to take care of you. So just go to the companies who’ve outsourced this stuff and say, “Bring it back. We’ll help you bring it back, but you’re going to bring it back.”

Speaker 14: (51:30)
Governor, if you could address the tourist ban. How do you enforce that? Will you have temperatures taken at the airports?

Henry McMaster: (51:36)
No ma’am, we have not gotten to that. This requirement, it carries a criminal penalty. We hope that our visitors will be as responsible as the people of South Carolina have been in following the recommendations and the requirements. This is a requirement that has the force of law and that’s why it carries a criminal penalty. So we will implement that and it is in effect as we speak.

Speaker 13: (52:06)
What’s the penalty?

Henry McMaster: (52:06)
Up to 30 days in jail or $1000.

Speaker 15: (52:13)
Governor, North Carolina has issued, Roy Cooper just issued a statewide stay at home starting Monday at 5:00 PM. Are we headed down that path? Even if we’re not headed down that path, what makes you think that, you believe, what makes you think that we won’t?

Henry McMaster: (52:29)
We’ve mentioned before, everything is on the table. We will do whatever’s necessary to see that the people of South Carolina are kept as safe as possible and the main way to do that is to have the hospital beds available to do the other things that we’ve mentioned that we’ve accomplished, but the main thing is to have them follow the social distancing rules and the others about hygiene and all of those things that have been pronounced all over the place by the health authorities.

Henry McMaster: (53:02)
I have not seen the order from North Carolina, but I know in looking at others and in speaking to governors around the country, including all in the South, South East, I have seen nothing yet that was not already included in one way or another in the recommendations and the mandates that we’ve issued here in South Carolina. If our people, I think our people are capable of doing what is best for themselves, their families and their neighbors, and if they will follow the rules that are made, that are suggested and required, those required here that are based on science data, the experts with experience and knowledge in these areas, and based on that and nothing else as well as common sense, if they will do those things then we don’t need to have mandates like they may have in some other parts of the country.

Speaker 16: (53:58)
Governor.

Henry McMaster: (53:58)
Yes ma’am.

Speaker 16: (53:59)
You banned all large gatherings.

Henry McMaster: (54:00)
Ma’am?

Speaker 16: (54:01)
You banned all large gatherings. At this point, are there any plans though to limit the number of people coming into certain businesses like grocery stores to just 30 or 50 people at a time?

Henry McMaster: (54:10)
We have nothing mandatory there, but all the rules about social distancing apply everywhere. Also as you know, our grocery stores and a lot of the other businesses have provided senior days, senior hours to allow for the elderly population to come in when there’s less traffic, less confusion, and more social distancing available.

Henry McMaster: (54:35)
Again, most of the things that have been mentioned anywhere in the country have been addressed in one way or another by our experts right here in South Carolina with a good dose of common sense and based on experience and trusting in the integrity and the experiences of the people of South Carolina. And we’ve been through hurricanes, we’ve learned how to work with each other over and over and that is putting us in good stead in working with this war, as Senator Graham has described it and Senator Scott. Are there more questions?

Speaker 17: (55:11)
Dr. Bell, on first responder priority testing, we hear that there are now more than four sites around the state. Can you update us on the number of sites for first responders and where those are?

Speaker 18: (55:21)
I’m not familiar with the testing sites. I’ll ask Director Davidson.

Speaker 19: (55:26)
Sure. You’re exactly right. It has been a priority of us to ensure that we get first responders tested and tested quickly. We have, I believe this morning’s report had seven on it and we were working on an eighth one for today as well, so we know that it has not been statewide coverage. We certainly encourage locals, if they have arrangements with their local hospitals and whatnot, to feel free to make those arrangements. But we also see it as our responsibility to make sure that there’s a backbone to back that up. So it’s growing every day and that’s our intent.

Speaker 13: (56:04)
Governor McMaster or the two senators, the president just ordered GM to make ventilators. Should the president do that for any South Carolina companies?

Lindsay Graham: (56:15)
I’ll let Tim … the Defense Procurement Act is set up to transform the economy to meet the needs of a crisis, mostly war. But in this case, we’re at war with an unseen enemy. It’s called the virus. World War II, we stopped making cars and we started making tanks. We stopped making commercial airliners, we started making bombers and fighters. So what we need to do is get the ventilators supply chain up and running until … the F100 is a great truck, but you’re not going to make any more of those until you make the ventilators.

Lindsay Graham: (56:45)
This is coming back in the fall. So what I want to do in the spring is to go ahead and ramp up the supply chain, make sure we have the masks and the ventilators and all the things that the frontline troops need to fight this virus. In the summer, hopefully that heat will slow it down, and by the fall, Dr. Bell will have drug therapies that whack the hell out of this thing. And by the end of the year or the beginning of next year, a vaccine to kill it.

Lindsay Graham: (57:11)
So we’re literally buying time. These containment policies are tough, but they’re allowing us to buy time to get the drug therapies and the vaccines that will eventually destroy this virus. The supply chain medically needs to be told right now, “Do whatever you need to do and do it now because it will come back in the fall.”

Speaker 20: (57:32)
I have a question … Go ahead.

Speaker 11: (57:37)
This is about that. If you look at what the president has been able to successfully accomplish without mandating that companies get involved, he’s been able to get companies to consistently volunteer getting involved, that’s one of the reasons why Ford is already working on the process of creating ventilators and GM is now, sounds like coming into to the fray. There has been a strong positive voluntary reaction to the president’s request to have as much as possible, the Marshall Plan in action.

Speaker 20: (58:06)
If indeed the heat does slow this virus down, how would that play a part when it comes to social distancing later on in the summer and large gatherings? Would we resume back to normal like, or how would they play out?

Speaker 18: (58:18)
Well, we’ll continue to monitor disease occurrence and we always try to make the most effective disease control measures with the least restrictive means. And so when we begin to see disease trends come down and we can resume other activities that pose a lower risk or a lower threat to the public health, we’re continuing to work with decision-makers about providing disease information and what to expect.

Speaker 18: (58:51)
And I want to follow up on an earlier question about the business closure. I just want to make the distinction between optional activities and essential activities and to think about the types of activities that bring people into close contact. So there’s a difference between canceling festivals and large gatherings and things like that as opposed to the type of contact that we experience in a business setting.

Speaker 18: (59:16)
So there are different levels of risk and we will continue to monitor disease trends and make decisions about what the most effective and least restrictive measures are when we come to that.

Speaker 16: (59:28)
Senator Graham, President Trump has given the goal to have the economy completely reopened by Easter. What are your thoughts on that goal at this point?

Lindsay Graham: (59:35)
That’s not what he said. President Trump said he wants to get as much of the economy reopened as soon as possible based on sound science. I trust Dr. Fauci, I trust Dr. Brix, I trust Dr. Bell to tell the governor and the president, “Here’s sound science.” They’re going to look every county in the country, they’re going to look at every region in the country, and we’re going to make a sound science decision about opening up business.

Lindsay Graham: (01:00:02)
During the spring, I would be cautious. There’ll be a plan next week I think that will look at the country based on risk, high, medium, low. Some counties have very low risk. You would treat them differently than you would New York City. So the president, one, is going to make a decision based on science. It will be blessed by Dr. Fauci and Brix, I’m certain of that, and the governor is not going to be bound by these recommendations. The governor can do what the governor needs to do for South Carolina and every governor has the ability to do what’s necessary for their states.

Lindsay Graham: (01:00:39)
So I think I want to do two things. I want to contain the virus very aggressively, and hopefully the summer will blunt its spread. I’ve been told it will. We’ll see. But the bottom line is to create a bump in the economy, you don’t want to create a spike in the illness, but all things are not the same. Dr. Fauci said, “You don’t need to treat every place exactly the same,” and that’s exactly what the president’s saying. I think that’s what the governor’s saying.

Henry McMaster: (01:01:06)
Last question. Please.

Speaker 21: (01:01:08)
Governor McMaster. The state has a program that garnishes people’s tax refunds.

Henry McMaster: (01:01:13)
I’m sorry, say it again?

Speaker 21: (01:01:14)
The state has a program that garnishes people’s tax refunds if they have unpaid debts. Will that program continue in light of this economic situation?

Henry McMaster: (01:01:23)
We have extended the time for paid filing and paying taxes to make it consistent with the federal. That is a question that I don’t have the answer to on my tip of my tongue, but we will get that answer for you and for anyone else. Any more questions?

Speaker 17: (01:01:41)
So Dr. Bell, earlier this week, it was said that DHEC was unfamiliar with the loss of senses as an indicator for COVID-19. Representative Cunningham tested positive for COVID-19 and those were his only symptoms. So what is the thinking about those symptoms now, and should it be an indicator for people to get tested?

Speaker 18: (01:02:03)
So we focus on the symptoms that are most highly correlated with the infection. So we focus on fever, shortness of breath, a cough, but we recognize that there can be other associated symptoms that are not as commonly as associated. Muscle aches, I’ve heard these reports of the loss of senses, smell and taste, but we don’t have a large enough body of evidence to say that a symptom like that alone is an indication for testing.

Speaker 18: (01:02:33)
So we focus on what we know best about the disease to make decisions about when to test. And so what’s most consistent is an influenza-like illness.

Speaker 17: (01:02:41)
Should they at least stay home though? Is that enough of an indicator to self-quarantine?

Speaker 18: (01:02:44)
I think if anybody develops new symptoms that they’re concerned about, they should consult with their healthcare provider and make a decision about if testing is indicated based on a personal basis.

Henry McMaster: (01:02:56)
Okay y’all, thank you very much for coming. And we appreciate [inaudible 01:02:59] being here as well today.

Speaker 22: (01:03:01)
Yes sir, good to be with you.

Henry McMaster: (01:03:02)
And until we come back. Thank you.