Last week was the 3rd week of the 2021 legislative session. There are 15 legislative weeks remaining before the General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on May 13, 2021.
HEARTBEAT – The Senate debated and passed S. 1 2021-2022 Bill 1: SC Fetal Heartbeat Protection from Abortion Act – South Carolina Legislature Online (scstatehouse.gov) , a bill that would prohibit abortions once a fetal heartbeat has been detected. The bill includes exceptions for life/health of the mother, rape, incest, and fatal fetal anomalies (those anomalies that cannot be remedied and are incompatible with life after birth). If the courts uphold the bill, it would eliminate more than ½ of all abortions performed in South Carolina. The bill will now go to the House of Representatives.
DHEC DIRECTOR NOMINEE– The Board of the Department of Health and Environmental Control has nominated Dr. Edward Simmer to be the new Director of the agency. The Senate Medical Affairs Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on Tuesday. If the confirmation hearing goes well, I hope the full Senate will consider the nomination later this week.
ADDITIONAL FUNDING TO SPEED UP COVID RESPONSE– Last week the House of Representatives passed H. 3707 2021-2022 Bill 3707: COVID-19 – South Carolina Legislature Online (scstatehouse.gov) , a bill that would spend $208M from the state’s reserve accounts to accelerate the distribution of the COVID vaccinations. The Senate Finance Committee will consider this resolution on Tuesday, and I hope the full Senate will take it up later this week.
PAY INCREASE FOR TEACHER – Because of the budget uncertainty from COVID, last year the legislature agreed to continue with spending levels from the previous fiscal year. In doing that, the legislature suspended the 2% step increases that most teachers receive annually. After receiving updated budget numbers in September, the Senate passed a resolution to provide teachers with that 2% increase, but the House was understandably concerned about the reliability of those revenue forecasts. Last week, after receiving more reliable budget projections, the House passed H. 3609 2021-2022 Bill 3609: Teacher salaries – South Carolina Legislature Online (scstatehouse.gov) , a resolution that would spend $50M to give teachers the 2% pay increase, retroactive to July 2020. The Senate Finance will consider that resolution on Tuesday, and I hope the full Senate will consider it later this week.
Virus Numbers – South Carolina’s infection rate is way too high. You can see the daily numbers here Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | SCDHEC.
We have to do a better job of controlling the spread of the virus. Please wear a mask, avoid large crowds, and wash our hands frequently. We can all help this process if we take these steps.
Testing Sites – You can find COVID testing locations near you here COVID-19 Testing Locations | SCDHEC
Vaccine eligibility – South Carolina is currently in Phase 1A of the vaccine distribution. Here’s who’s eligible to receive the vaccine under Phase 1A:
Frontline healthcare workers who are high risk of exposure and mission-critical to the overarching goal of preventing death
Residents and staff of long-term care facilities
Admitted hospital patients who are aged 65 years and older
Anyone 70 years and older
State/local government employees and their contractors who are mission-critical for maintaining operations of COVID-19 vaccinations and testing
You can read more information about the phases and eligibility here COVID-19 Vaccine | SCDHEC
What if I’m not eligible under Phase 1a? – DHEC estimates that Phase 1b eligibility will begin near the end of February and the remaining phases will follow. You can see more information about phases and eligibility here COVID-19 Vaccine | SCDHEC
How do I get the vaccine? – DHEC’s online map here VACCINE LOCATIONS FOR COVID-19 (arcgis.com) is live and updated daily. This online map shows the locations currently accepting appointments for COVID-19 vaccine and the map will provide the contact information for scheduling appointments at those locations. The map itself is not a way to schedule an appointment. DHEC is supposed to launch a new, online scheduling site this week.
In addition to the locations identified on the map, in our area you can request vaccines through the following local hospital websites:
Aiken Regional Medical Centers – COVID-19 Vaccine | Aiken Regional Medical Centers
Lexington Medical Center – COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Vaccine | Lexington Medical Center (lexmed.com)
Self Regional Healthcare – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information, Prevention and Preparedness – Self Regional Healthcare | Greenwood, SC
For those who do not have internet access, DHEC launched a new phone number – 866-365-8110 – that is staffed with 240 operators to answer calls 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. and help schedule vaccine appointments.
Appointments should be scheduled because walk ins may not be able to receive the vaccine.
How is South Carolina doing in the administration of the vaccine? – As of Sunday, January 31, South Carolina had received 657,250 doses (114,500 more than last Sunday) and has administered 418,670 doses (141,412 more than last Sunday). You can keep up with how many doses we have received and administered here COVID-19 Vaccine Allocations in South Carolina | SCDHEC. This site is updated daily.
The federal government announced last week that South Carolina’s allotment will increase beginning this week from just over 62,000 doses per week to more than 72,000 doses per week.
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Edgefield, SC 29824
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