Gov. McMaster talks hurricane preparedness in midst of COVID-19 pandemic, protests and reform efforts

Updated: Jun. 4, 2020 at 10:17 PM EDT
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WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Governor Henry McMaster and other state officials held a press conference Thursday at the South Carolina Emergency Operations Center in West Columbia.

IN PROGRESS: Gov. Henry McMaster discusses South Carolina's hurricane preparedness. He says he will take questions on other matters at the end of the news conference. Get the earliest breaking news alerts on your phone with the WIS 10 News app >>

Posted by WIS TV on Thursday, June 4, 2020

The governor met virtually Thursday with emergency management officials from Horry, Charleston, and Beaufort counties to discuss hurricane preparedness procedures.

Officials said some of the changes they've made to the state's plan is because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The South Carolina Department of Transportation said they have made tweaks to the I-26 reversal. They moved the reversal point about fifteen miles west on I-26. The South Carolina Department of Social Services said capacity at individual shelter locations has been reduced to a third of what it usually because of social distancing guidelines. They said evacuees will be screened and have their temperature checked before allowing them in.

If someone shows signs of COVID-19 or tests positive, they will be placed in a different location to avoid the spread of the disease. Social distancing guidelines will be followed on buses or motor-coaches used to transport evacuees to shelters.

Governor McMaster and other state officials said evacuation orders, if needed, will have to be issued earlier than usual.

"Here we are in hurricane season in the middle of a pandemic and measures and steps must be taken to keep everyone safe,” McMaster said. “The pandemic is still a highly dangerous disease the likes we’ve never seen before."

During the press conference, Gov. McMaster also talked about the recent spike we've seen in COVID-19 cases in South Carolina. He attributed the increase to increased testing capacity, but he also said he has noticed people aren't following social distancing as closely as they were.

"I think the compliance may be dropping off some now,” he said. “That is highly unfortunate and highly dangerous.”

McMaster added South Carolinians need to keep taking precautions until there is a vaccine.

The governor also chimed in on the nationwide protests we have seen in response to the death of George Floyd. Gov. McMaster said he welcomes peaceful protest in South Carolina, but they will not accept violence and rioting. McMaster said the South Carolina National Guard is ready to assist law enforcement if needed. Hundreds of members of the National Guard have been sent to Washington D.C. to assist there, General Van McCarthy said.

On Wednesday, the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus said they would like to work with Gov. McMaster and other members of the General Assembly on police reform efforts.

Gov. McMaster said talks are ongoing.

"You will see some activity and a lot of recommendations that will come out of these conversations,” he said. “This is a good time to take a look at what we can do better in a variety of situations."

Emergency management officials released the 2020 Hurricane Guide earlier this week. Click or tap here to view it.

To see the guide in Spanish, click or tap here.

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