Over the past year, the South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health (IMPH) and the North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) have jointly monitored state and federal actions that address the COVID-19 pandemic and have analyzed the potential impact of these actions on the Carolinas. The fourth joint report is now available. To view the full “COVID-19 and the Carolinas” series, visit IMPH.org/COVID-19.
March 11 marked one year since the COVID-19 crisis was declared a pandemic in the United States. Since then, over half a million Americans have died from the virus, and millions more have experienced economic, educational, social and other health consequences. COVID-19 cases peaked in January 2021, and infections steadily decreased through February and March.
To aid decision-makers, IMPH and NCIOM have continued to actively monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and to analyze state and federal actions taken to address the health, economic and social fallout from the crisis.
“Over the course of the last year, we have released four reports to help leaders understand how all of the significant federal legislation passed will impact our state,” says Maya Pack, executive director of IMPH. “Our goal is to provide the information needed to enable an inclusive and equitable recovery for all, and ultimately, to improve health and health care in South Carolina.”
Executive Orders to Address the Pandemic
Since the beginning of the pandemic, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has continued to enact 15-day state of emergency executive orders intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, allocate resources needed to combat the virus and address changing circumstances. Two of Governor McMaster’s most recent executive orders include the following:
• Executive Order 2021-11 on March 1, 2021: rescinds prior order 2020-45 and allows the sale and consumption of alcohol on the premises of licensed establishments after 11 p.m. The order also lifts capacity limits and rescinds executive order 2020-73.
• Executive Order 2021-12 on March 5, 2021: facilitates the full-time return to the workplace of state employees who have worked from home during the pandemic.
Vaccination Progress and Updates
South Carolina saw a significant increase of vaccine supply and progress in vaccinating people in phase 1a, which includes front-line health care workers and those age 65 and older. This enabled the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to open vaccination phase 1b on March 8, 2021, expanding vaccination to a broader range of front-line workers, to those with increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease and to those 55 and older. Phase 2, which includes all individuals who wish to be vaccinated, opened on March 31.
The South Carolina legislature passed a COVID-19 pandemic relief joint resolution on February 19, 2021, to speed the state’s vaccination efforts. The $208 million legislation provides $63 million to DHEC and $45 million to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) to expand vaccination. As of April 4, 2021, 34% of South Carolinians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 19.5% have completed vaccination.
The American Rescue Plan Act
Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) on March 10, 2021, and President Biden signed the bill into law on March 11. The legislation provides $1.9 billion in spending to support families, stimulate the economy and fund a variety of efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact. For an overview of the funding allocations and distribution to South Carolina, as well as updates to direct payments, tax credits and unemployment, view the report.
For more information compiled by IMPH regarding COVID-19, visit IMPH.org/COVID-19.
The South Carolina Institute of Medicine & Public Health (IMPH) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to collectively inform policy to improve health and health care in South Carolina. In conducting its work, IMPH takes a comprehensive approach to advancing health issues through data analysis and translation and collaborative engagement. IMPH seeks to achieve its mission by convening a diverse group of stakeholders around health issues important to South Carolina. Learn more at imph.org