By Ben Homeyer

The Senate re-opening committee met yesterday to put forth their ideas on a number of subjects.  Numerous reports were given so there is a lot of information below.  I highlighted the different sections.  They spent the most time on testing but also spent time on education, child care, broadband and tourism.  IF you have any specific questions please let me know.  One other item of note.  Today I spoke with a couple of members who indicated that they may shorten the time they come back from six days to three.  If that were to occur they would concentrate on covid related legislation.

For Testing they recommend the following nineteen (19) items. 

Recommendation # 1  DHEC is the lead agency for testing goals

  • One person at DHEC should be responsible for this
  • Legislation or an executive order to do this

Recommendation # 2  Test ten percent of the population each month

  • Science says this is the right amount for an effective mitigation strategy
  • Each county must have one testing site a week
  • Testing must be reallocated when an area is vulnerable or an outbreak occurs

Recommendation # 3  Appropriation will have to be made to cover the cost of increased testing

  • No dollar amount assigned

Recommendation # 4 Saliva Testing

  • Appropriation will be required for implementing

Recommendations # 5 & 6 Higher Education Institutions and Technical Colleges

  • Appropriations will be required for testing on campus

Recommendation # 7  PPE Storage

  • Appropriation will be necessary for Department of Administration to store the

Recommendation #8/9 Emergency Management Division

  • Provide small providers with PPE to help small business and rotate PPE stock
  • 502(f) National Guard Designation Expires August 21, 2020
  • On August 22, 2020 state will be required to pay FEMA 25% to continue National Guard’s involvement in this project

Recommendation # 10 Military Bases Around the State helping with testing

  • Request from Emergency Management Division is required •
  • Recommendation would instruct agency to make that request

Recommendation # 11 Health Information Exchange

  • Would allow state to better allocate scarce resources
  • This recommendation would be limited (to COVID-19) HIE and would require legislation
  • Staff is working on legislation

Recommendation # 12 DHEC needs to be proactive in getting information out about testing sites

  • DHEC needs to use other means that just posting on the website

Recommendation # 13 DHEC Scope of Practice needs to expand the number of people who can administer COVID-19 tests without a doctor’s order

Recommendation # 14 Extension of the waiver of the $ 10,000 earnings limit

Recommendation # 15 State needs to work with Federal delegation and Federal Government to make sure it is getting all the funds available to help with covering testing costs

Recommendation # 16  Testing needs to be proactive:

  • Target certain populations and demographics
  • Needs to be more strategic in regards to where testing is done

Recommendation # 17 Recommends automating of testing process

  • Would give a patient a portal to get their test results

Recommendation # 18 Prioritizes the urgency of each of these recommendations

Recommendation # 19 Stakeholders and providers need to work with Senate Finance Committee to monetize the recommendations

For Childcare and state employees

Dept. of Administration has provided the following support

  • Facilitating tele-work opportunities
  • Developed the state employee re-entry plan
  • Provided enhanced cleaning mechanisms
  • Worked with Department of Education to get cleaning supplies and PPE to schools

Emergency Management Division

  • In March 2020 the state had no PPE now the state is able to meet 97-100% of the PPE for small providers •


Katie Nilges South Carolina Department of Education

  • $20 million allocated
  • Schools are recommended to continue providing nutrition services in virtual education programs
  • Served 22 million meals
  • $ 50.7 million allocated
  • 3,500 students attended face to face of the 25,000 planned
  • 20,000 students were served online but is not reimbursable under the CARES Act funding
  • $ 7.8 million estimated reimbursement for in person programs
  • Balance of money should be used for K-8 recovery programs
  • Department would also like to use additional funds for additional PPE
  • LEAP DAYS  $ 159 million allocated
  • Five additional days added to the school year for all K-8 students Had to be face to face. 11 districts have hosted all five of their LEAP days. Four districts will host theirs in September The remaining 66 districts will host theirs through August

Dr. David Mathis (Deputy Superintendent of College and Career Readiness, South Carolina Department of Education)

  • All districts have submitted opening plans
  • 17 districts will start full time face to face
  • 48 districts are starting with hybrid (A/B Day, A/B/C Day, etc.)
  • 14 districts are starting fully virtually
  • The two charter school districts plans are either full time face to face or a hybrid model

Nanette Edwards (Director, Office of Regulatory Staff) – Broadband

  • Secured contracts (13 currently) to allow students who don’t have internet access to get online
  • 95,000 orders currently received (hotspots and wired internet)
        • Cost is projected to $ 13.5 million with a balance of $ 6.4 million of the $ 20 million approved should go down as the service only starts when school starts
      • All should be in place by the end of August (hotspots)
      • Wired programs are in progress
      • Working with GuideHouse to ensure records are kept so the program can be reimbursed
      • Agency has gotten competitive pricing
      • Schools are working with providers to continue the service after the cares act  SCETV has one-way broadcasting that can be used in areas where broadband (wired or hotspots) cannot be used
      • Infrastructure can be reimbursed if completed by December 31, 2020 but also has to be useful before December 31

Dr. Patrick Cawley (Vice President for Health Affairs and CEO of MUSC Health)

  • stakeholder groups that MUSC has worked with National Guard is key to do high volume testing
  • per capita state ranking has improved from 46 to 33
  • Demographic data (follow up from questions in the subcommittee)
  • 46% of MUSC tests are testing of African Americans
  • Education has come in underbudget
  • Engaged community leaders are better than paid marketing
  • Regulation Request – Automation of testing report is critical to reduce turnaround time
  • Need a Health Information Exchange

Marshall Taylor (Executive Director, Department of Health and Environmental Control)

  • MUSC has done the most pop up test sites
  • More testing is necessary
  • Each county will have one testing site a week
  • DHEC labs (in-house and contract) have a capacity of 8,800 tests per day
  • Working to improve processes (testing and tracing) to mitigate the spread of the disease

Dr. Joan Duwve (Director of Public Health, Department of Health and Environmental Control)

  • Recently numbers have been trending in a positive direction
  • Must wear masks and socially distance
  • 2012 South Carolinas have died and we have 86 probable deaths
  • Cases trending downwards is a good sign the procedures are working
  • Must be able to rapidly identify challenges
  • DHEC is working with partners to implement testing
  • Welcomes legislature helping get the word out
  • PPE shortage is a problem
  • Lack of suitable testing venues is an increased problem when school starts and schools can’t be used for testing
  • DHEC continues to work to improve the process and now offers electronic delivery of results
  • DHEC is reporting a decrease of immunizations for other diseases by 50%
  • Requests additional funding for testing and PPE
  • Supports recommendations of the testing and tracing subcommittee report

Duane Parrish (Director, Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism)

  • devastating time for the hospitality industry
  • Hotel occupancy is at 52% as of August 1
  • The month of June was down 25 %
  • Hotels still lose money at 52%
  • Tourism Spending
        • April was down 88%
        • As of August 1, we are down 37%
        • Jobs 23.3% down as an industry (hospitality) as of August 1
        • Spending Domestic down 70% for the year
        • International spending down 90% for the year
        • Gross Tourism spending is down 50% for the year
        • Traveler sentiment  44% cancelled plans to fly-in
        • Department has worked to increase drive-in visits by marketing 
      • Marketing efforts are ongoing
      • 2/3 of the population are willing to travel
      • South Carolina wants more than its market share
      • Funding Request $ 10 million for PRT to advertise South Carolina
      • $ 30 million for the major destinations to be divided grants going to the local governments
        • $ 10 million is for smaller communities.
        • $ 2.5 million would go out to smaller markets in grants.
        • $ 7.5 million will be used to get people to “undiscovered South Carolina” at the state level.