SC governor pushes for schools to open in person; DHEC talks COVID-19 vaccines

SC governor pushes for schools to open in person; DHEC talks COVID-19 vaccines

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Gov. Henry McMaster issued recommendations on how he believes the state should spend remaining COVID-19 relief funding during an update Thursday afternoon.

He also took the opportunity to push more schools to reopen in person, saying he would have issued an executive order making them open if it were legal.

During Thursday’s news conference, state health officials also discussed their planning for the eventual distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The governor first discussed funding.

He is recommending the General Assembly allocate $50 million to schools who are open for in-person learning five days a week.

The governor used that recommendation as a jumping off point to urge all schools to fully reopen.

He said he’s heard from parents who are upset, and he’s also upset -- because, he says, people should not have to choose between their job and their children’s education.

McMaster is also calling for $450 million to replenish the unemployment insurance trust. And he would like $30 million to go toward small businesses that didn’t get a chance to get a PPP loan.

McMaster brought up the director of the Department of Health and Environmental Control, Marshall Taylor, to talk about how they plan to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine, once it’s available.

Taylor said they don’t yet know when South Carolina will get access to a vaccine, but it will likely be in the next few months.

Those at highest risk of contracting the virus -- front line medical workers, nursing home care takers and residents, critical infrastructure employees, etc... -- will be the first to receive the vaccine.

It will be a two dose vaccine, with a booster shot required around 21 to 28 days after the first shot.

“We, just like you, have heard that an approved vaccine could be made available as early as this fall,” Taylor said. “We will be ready.”

While South Carolina could see some vaccines this fall, it will be many months before its available in large quantities.

Taylor stressed the need to continue widespread testing across the state to help slow the spread. He also urged people to wear a mask and keep social distancing and using good hygiene.

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