Overview:
In just a couple of weeks, the state’s focus has turned from the budget, education reform and many other important issues to managing the spread and impact of a highly contagious virus. President Trump, Governor McMaster and their respective teams are working around the clock to respond to the nation’s healthcare needs and to map out a plan to get us back to our jobs, schools, friends and families. The reality is that this situation is fluid and requires creativity, ingenuity, and an “all hands-on deck” approach that I have seen firsthand throughout this pandemic. (Check out what a team of SC doctors has accomplished in this article.) I encourage you all to continue thanking the doctors and nurses on the front lines and practicing social distancing by staying at home to limit the spread of this virus. Together, we will come out on the other side of this.


Note: The General Assembly is not in session this week because of the COVID-19 pandemic but can be called back into session quickly if needed by legislative leadership.

Live Updates:

Both President Trump and Governor McMaster have been holding daily live briefings to keep the public up to date on COVID-19. 
President Trump broadcasts live at 5pm EST: https://www.whitehouse.gov/live/
Governor McMaster broadcasts live at 4pm EST: https://www.scetv.org/coronavirus
*Times are subject to change.
 Latest News from Governor McMaster:–     Gov. McMaster and S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman issued a joint statement announcing that S.C. public schools will remain closed through April 30.
 Gov. McMaster has ordered a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone coming from the states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Orleans. He has also asked any visitors coming to South Carolina for more than two days to self-quarantine for two weeks as soon as they arrive.-    

  The U.S. Department of Education is waving standardized testing in South Carolina – including the SC READY, SC PASS end of course exams – this spring in order to relieve virtual learning stress.

–      Gov. McMaster has restricted public gatherings of more than three people and that law enforcement may, in their discretion and policy, disperse groups that “pose a risk to the public’s safety and to the safety of others.” The Governor said that this order “does not apply to private businesses nor to responsible South Carolinians continuing to make the best out of this situation.”
 Gov. McMaster issued an order last week that restricts restaurants and bars from providing sit down dining in both indoor and outdoor areas through March 31. Food service via take out, drive through, or delivery service is allowed. The Governor has also allowed curbside sale of beer and wine by restaurants during this time.

News from the D.C.   Congress and the Senate have passed a huge relief package aimed at lessening the economic burden of these times on hardworking Americans. Read here why U.S. Senator Tim Scott believes this legislation will help South Carolina. –       President Trump is extending the REAL ID enforcement deadline beyond the current October 1, 2020 deadline to October 1, 2021. 

Helpful Resources:

–       Confirmed COVID-19 cases: Access this link, https://bit.ly/3bpxBwm for a summary of all confirmed cases in South Carolina listed by county and zip code. 
–       Filing for unemployment: Gov. McMaster has shortened the timeframe for individuals to receive unemployment by one week. To apply online, please do so at SC DEW. Unemployment is calculated as 2/3 of your average wages for previous 6 months. Those who qualify for unemployment are those individuals whose hours have been reduced due to COVID-19, or whose employer has shut down operations or whose employer has suffered a loss of production. Visit, www.scdew.gov for more information.
–       Helping Small Businesses – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved Governor Henry McMaster’s request for the agency to offer South Carolina’s small businesses with disaster assistance. The disaster declaration means that South Carolina’s small businesses that have suffered substantial economic injury as a result of the COVID-19 virus may qualify for low-interest federal disaster loans. South Carolina’s businesses can apply online at: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
–       Federal Student Loans – Interest Waived: The U.S. Department of Education has waived interest on federally held student loans for 60 days. To learn more, visit https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus
–       SC Department of Revenue: Various tax filing and payment deadlines starting on April 1, 2020 were extended. As a result, affected individuals and businesses will have until June 1, 2020 to file and pay taxes for returns that are due between April 1, 2020 and June 1, 2020. To learn more, visit https://dor.sc.gov
–       Internal Revenue Service: Payment deadline of April 15, 2020 extended to July 15, 2020. To learn more, visit https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/payment-deadline-extended-to-july-15-2020
–       COVID-19 Rumor Control — FEMA: The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) set up a webpage to address COVID-19 related rumors, https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus-rumor-control
–       Job openings for healthcare workers: The South Carolina Medical Association and the South Carolina Hospital Association have joined together to create a database where physicians/licensed personnel can enter their information in order to be hired by S.C. Hospitals who are in need of personnel during the COVID-19 crisis. The database can be found at the following link: https://scha.org/helpnow
–       COVID-19 Business Resource Center: The S.C. Department of Commerce has launched an online web portal to help businesses with issues arising from the pandemic. Visit, https://sccommerce.com for more information.
 –        Google COVID-19 Information & Resources: Google has launched a helpful website focused on education, prevention and local resources for COVID-19. People can find state-based resources, safety and prevention tips, search trends related to COVID-19, as well as, additional resources for individuals, educators and businesses.  Visit https://www.google.com/covid19/ to find out more.  GENERAL ASSEMBLY COVID-19 UPDATE 
PROVIDED BY THE SC HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION 
SC SITUATION SUMMARY DHEC is actively monitoring the total number of COVID-19 cases in South Carolina. According to the latest data (Sunday, March 29, 3:30 p.m.) from DHEC: 
• SC has confirmed 774 positive cases of COVID-19
• SC has confirmed 16 deaths in individuals with COVID-19
• DHEC’s public health lab has certified 3,587 negative tests for COVID-19.
 
DHEC TESTING PRIORITIZATION RECOMMENDATIONS Due to a shortage of testing supplies which is creating delays in collecting and promptly obtaining results of tests for COVID-19, DHEC is providing recommendations for the best way to prioritize testing to best protect the healthcare system, protect those at risk of severe infection, and decrease community spread. Healthcare providers can make the ultimate determination—this is simple guidance while resources are running low and turnaround times from many of the labs are quite long.
 
SCHA APPLIES FOR ADDITIONAL SECTION 1135 WAIVERS Earlier this month, SCHA applied for a series of waivers under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act that were intended to reduce compliance burdens and give hospitals greater flexibility to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. On March 13, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar issued a nationwide blanket waiver that would:
• waive EMTALA to allow hospitals to screen patients at a location offsite from the hospital’s campus,
• waive various rules regarding seclusion, isolation, and quarantine policies,
• waive certain documentation and disclosure rules for discharge planning,
• waive Medicare’s conditions of participation to allow non-hospital space to be used for 
• patient care and quarantine sites, if approved by the state, and
• suspend a number of assessments, inspection, and reporting rules.
SCHA hopes to receive a response from CMS during the next few days and will let you know as soon as a decision is rendered.
 
PPE SUPPLIERS, COVID TESTING LABS & OTHER EQUIPMENT SUPPLIERS SCHA is working to assist hospitals in finding needed resources by compiling potential sources of items like masks, hand sanitizer, face-shields, gowns, laboratory testing, testing supplies, etc. We are keeping a spreadsheet of suppliers to share with hospital personnel. As needs increase, some hospitals have noticed offers of supplies that seem too good to be true. With any offers from new companies, we encourage you to use your own discretion in utilizing these vendors and consult the SC State Fiscal Accountability Authority to see if the state has any information on a given company.  
 
GUIDANCE ON THE HOMELESS POPULATION The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released new guidance on responding to the COVID-19 outbreak among people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. 
This guidance is intended to support response planning by local and state health departments, homelessness service systems, housing authorities, emergency planners, healthcare facilities, and homeless outreach services. Key takeaways include the importance of providing information to people experiencing homelessness, not clearing encampments, creating isolation housing, recommendations for outreach staff, and more.
 
CARES ACT IMPACT ON HOSPITALS The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security
(CARES) Act that the Senate passed Wednesday, the House passed earlier today and President Trump signed at 4 p.m. includes many provisions for individual and business relief, with many of them directly impacting hospitals. This includes many financial support opportunities and some additional regulatory assistance for healthcare providers, but also new reporting requirements surrounding COVID-19.
While specific criteria for the financial assistance being offered will be rolled out in the coming weeks, the top-level opportunities include an additional $100 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund for HHS to distribute to hospitals and other healthcare providers via grants, as well as a host of other, similar grant-based funding allotments specifically set aside for improving service capacity, telehealth, rural hospital needs, and other coronavirus-related demands.  In addition to these funds, the federal government will also delay DSH cuts until the 2021 federal fiscal year and make a host of other regulatory waivers and exemptions. The full details are available here. 
 
CMS ANNOUNCES EXPANSION OF MEDICARE ACCELERATED PAYMENT PROGRAM Building on
provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, CMS has expanded the Medicare accelerated payment program, which is intended to provide necessary funds to providers when there is a disruption in claims submission and/or claims processing. The agency will provide accelerated or advance payments during the COVID-19 public health emergency to any Medicare provider/supplier who submits a request to the appropriate Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) and meets the required qualifications. The funds will be recouped by CMS after a certain timeframe. A step-by-step guide on how to request accelerated or advance payment may be found on CMS’s fact sheet and on MAC websites.
 
CONTACT INFORMATION Any of SCHA’s lobbyists are available to answer questions, track down needed information for you, or provide talking points on COVID-19. Names and cell phone numbers for each are provided below.
 
Allan Stalvey 803.351.5119
Krista Hinson 507.530.1300
Elizabeth Harmon 803.609.6869
Rozalynn Goodwin 803.239.8470      Thank you for allowing me to serve you in the South Carolina House of Representatives and please feel free to contact me via email at [email protected] or my 24-hour phone line at 331-8468.