Health + Hospitals
○ On Friday, Gov. Henry McMaster and SCDHEC announced that all South Carolinians aged 16 and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine beginning Wed., March 31 + can begin scheduling appointments as of Wednesday next week. Find a vaccine provider near you.
○ Also on Friday, Prisma Health began phasing out hospital-based drive-thru COVID-19 testing, including at Greenville + Greer Memorial Hospitals. In addition, the hospital system recently expanded patient visitation. (Greenville Journal)
○ Starting next week, 17 CVS locations across South Carolina will begin to administer ~15,000 COVID-19 vaccines. Appointments will be available as early as Tues., Feb. 9. Get all the details here. (WYFF 4)
○ In addition to other retailers like Ingles and Publix, Walmart is now offering the COVID-19 vaccine in almost 10 states nationwide, including South Carolina. Click here to see which stores are offering the vaccine in our area. (WSPA)
○ South Carolina Publix locations will begin offering COVID-19 vaccines to those who are eligible. Appointments will be necessary + can be made here. At this time, all available appointments have been claimed, but additional appointments will be announced as Publix receives more inventory. (WIS)
○ The Kmart Plaza near Greenville Memorial Hospital will be turned into a COVID-19 vaccine site. The site will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. to individuals with appointments, according to Prisma Health. Get more details here. (Greenville Journal)
○ Any South Carolina resident 70+, regardless of health status or preexisting conditions, can begin scheduling their appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals can also make an appointment by calling DHEC Care Line at 1-855-472-3432.
○ 200,000-300,000. The number of COVID-19 vaccine doses the state is expecting to receive by the end of the year, according to DHEC. However, the exact number may change and won’t be known until the doses arrive. (WIS)
○ SCDHEC provided new guidelines for outdoor and indoor visitation at nursing homes + community residential care facilities, commonly referred to as assisted living facilities. These guidelines are also recommended for intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
○ A health advisory has been issued by DHEC amid a continued increase of opioid overdoses in the state this year. The agency expects that the coronavirus will contribute to higher risks of overdoses over the next few months. According to the reports, the state has experienced an increase of suspected opioid overdoses since March. (WCIV)
○ For 40+ years, horseshoe crab blood has helped make the Limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) test. This test can help determine if there are dangerous toxins present in new vaccines or other materials created by researchers. Read more about the role the horseshoe crab may play in the COVID-19 vaccine here. (Greenville News)
○ CVS is adding more than 2,000 new COVID-19 testing sites nationwide including seven for South Carolina and three right here in the Upstate. See the new locations here. (FOX Carolina)
○ Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Prisma Health will offer reduced-cost flu shots at hospitals, mobile clinics, and other sites in 11 counties from the Upstate to the Midlands. You can get more information here. (Greenville News)
○ SCDHEC announced that the organization is launching a new immunization information system that will help ensure access + availability of essential immunizations to everyone in SC. The Statewide Immunization Online Network (SIMON) will provide a streamlined process for immunization providers to manage vaccine inventory in addition to providing patient reminders and offering a patient portal to view immunization records. (WLTX)
○ SCDHEC announced a transition in leadership of its deputy area of Public Health. Dr. Brannon Traxler, formerly the Chief Medical Officer for the state’s COVID-19 response, will assume the role of interim director of Public Health following Dr. Joan Duwve’s decision to move on from her role as the agency’s Public Health Director.
○ SCDHEC announced the agency + several key partners are developing a statewide COVID-19 vaccination testing plan in accordance with federal guidance. The overarching goal of this vaccination plan will be the equitable distribution of vaccines across the state. (WCSC)
○ You can now get a non-invasive COVID-19 saliva test here in Greenville at Premier Medical Laboratory Services’ drive-thru testing site located at 6000 Pelham Rd. The test starts at $75 + results are typically ready in less than 48 hours. No appointment needed. Click here for more information.
○ The SC Department of Mental Health created a toll-free service line for Spanish speakers. The anonymous Spanish support line is available Monday – Friday from 9:30 a.m. – 8 p.m., with the exception of state holidays. (Cola Daily)
○ The City of Greenville has installed 25 new hand sanitizing stations downtown – from Fluor Field to One City Plaza – to help stop the spread of germs that can cause COVID-19.
○ SCEMD have launched a new tool to help keep track of which local communities have mask ordinances. Click the link here to check it out.
○ SCDHEC is encouraging all SC residents to respond to legitimate contact tracing calls + emails from public health officials, while remaining vigilant against scams. Legitimate contact tracing includes two components: case investigations and contact monitoring. If you test positive for COVID-19, a contact tracer from DHEC will call you – and only ask you these questions.
○ Additionally, remaining aware of potential scam attempts is important. A contact tracer will never ask for your social security number, money, bank account or credit card number, or immigrant status. If you are concerned about whether a caller is a real DHEC official, verify their identity by asking them to send you an email (the address should end with @dhec.sc.gov) or calling the DHEC regional epidemiology office to confirm the caller’s name and credentials. Learn about reporting potential scams here.
○ Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System is offering free, no-order COVID-19 testing at its Spartanburg COVID-19 testing facility (the former Spartanburg Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Dealership at 1035 N. Church St.) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. For a complete list of COVID-19 test sites in SC, click here.
○ Not sure if that wedding you’re supposed to go to next weekend is safe? Check out this interactive map from Georgia Tech + Applied Bioinformatics Laboratory. You can assess the risk level – “estimated chance (0-100%) that at least 1 COVID-19 positive individual will be present” – for the event you’re considering attending by entering how many people will be there and where in the country it’s taking place. Try it here.
○ Milliken & Company is increasing its domestic production of the company’s advanced medical fabric – Milliken PerimeterTM. Milliken has distributed 10 million+ yards of reusable medical fabric to make personal protective equipment since March.
○ The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expanded its list of products containing methanol (wood alcohol) – a substance that may be potentially fatal when ingested or absorbed through the skin – to 75 different hand sanitizers. Read more here. (WYFF 4)
○ SCDHEC launched a statewide campaign targeting youth + young adults to slow the spread of COVID-19. Officials say those between the ages of 21-30 account for 22% of confirmed cases, while those ages 11-20 account for 11% of confirmed cases. Learn more about the new “Mask Up” initiative here. (WCBD)
○ To help stop the spread of COVID-19 in SC, SCDHEC has created free, digital COVID-19 mask content that anyone can share on social media to encourage their friends + followers to wear a face covering in public. Social media posts, graphics, and videos can be found here.
○ DHEC has launched mobile COVID-19 testing clinics. The testing sites are popping up across the state and all screenings + specimen collections will be free as part of an effort to increase testing in rural and underserved communities in our state. Locations can be found here + are updated frequently.
○ The Blood Connection is now offering COVID-19 Antibody Testing for free. The test works by using a sample of the donor’s blood to test for COVID-19 antibodies and will be offered to blood donors at all TBC donation centers + mobiles across SC, NC, and GA. More information here.
○ A new drive-thru COVID-19 testing site that is open to the public has opened in Greenville at Premier Medical Laboratory Services at 15 Commerce Center. The testing site will be open Mon.-Fri. from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information or to make an appointment, click here.
○ A few years back, an Upstate couple created an app called YoDoc to help patients communicate with both family members + doctors through pictures. Chandar, an ICU physician, and Renita, an engineer, are now receiving renewed attention for their app, as COVID-19 patients who are on ventilators have to find ways to communicate nonverbally. Read more here. (WYFF 4)
○ DHEC is promoting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) COVID-19 Communicative Technology grant opportunity, which “supports virtual communication devices for safely connecting nursing home residents with their loved ones during this time.” You can read more + nursing homes can apply for the technology grant here.
○ Uninsured South Carolina residents can now apply for reimbursement of COVID-19 testing through the SC Department of Health and Human Services Limited Benefit Program. To qualify the test must be conducted by a healthcare provider who accepts Healthy Connections Medicaid. Those who were tested after March 18 may also apply for reimbursement. (WIS)
○ Planning to utilize one of the drive-thru coronavirus testing sites? Here’s what you need to know before you go. (The State)
○ To help eliminate any potential financial barriers to treatment and care during this difficult time, Bon Secours is suspending all COVID-19 related billing. No upfront payments related to any COVID-19 screening, testing or treatment will be required at the time of the service. Click here to read the full statement from the Bon Secours Health System. Prisma Health has also suspended all COVID-19 related billing. (WYFF 4)
Colleges + Universities
○ University of South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner told the UofSC Board of Trustees that the school might be short of its projected $127 million revenue by $58 million because of COVID-19. Read more here. (The Post and Courier)
○ Furman University has suspended its chapter of Kappa Alpha fraternity for at least four years after 60% of attendees at an unauthorized fraternity party tested positive for COVID-19. Additionally, Furman is requiring all on-campus students to be tested for the coronavirus today. (FOX Carolina)
○ The University of South Carolina announced they will be administering saliva-based COVID-19 tests to as many as 2,400 students per day. This testing is available five days a week to students, faculty + staff for free. Results will be returned in just 24 hours. (Post and Courier)
○ Furman University’s campus, including the lake and other outdoor facilities, will remain closed to the general public because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furman’s website reads, “As soon as the health metrics in Greenville improve, we will be eager to reopen campus for limited access.” Click here for additional information.
○ COVID-19 could end up costing Clemson University an estimated $135 million because of lost athletics revenue, lower fees for students, and expenses related to other mitigation efforts, but school officials say Clemson is “poised to weather the pandemic financially.” (The Post and Courier Greenville)
○ Clemson University announced $25 million in refunds for students who cannot return to campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The prorated refunds will cover on-campus housing, dining plans and parking permits and are expected to be issued by the middle of April. (Fox Carolina)
○ Colleges and universities in SC will be getting several millions from the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. To see the full rundown on how this $12.56 billion stimulus package will be distributed, click the link here. (Greenville Journal)
○ Fri., April 16 will tentatively be an eLearning day for Greenville County Schools’ students as many GCS employees will receive their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on that day. Teachers will provide lessons on the day they are receiving their second dose.
○ South Carolina’s public schools will receive $84+ million in relief funding from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund. This money can be spent on purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) or equipment to facilitate eLearning or used to hire school nurses and other employees to assist struggling students. (The State)
○ Greenville County Schools will continuously update data for parents and guardians about the number of staff + students who test positive for COVID-19 in the school district here. #ProTip: Bookmark this page for easy access.
○ According to Greenville County Schools, when a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, they will be excluded from school for at least 10 days and asked to isolate. Contact tracing will begin immediately, and three types of notification will follow – Close Contact Notification, Not Close Contact Notification, and School-Wide Notification. Read more about these three notification types here.
○ Any Greenville County Schools family with medical conditions that might make a return to in-person learning unsafe will receive special consideration on being accepted to the district’s Virtual Program. Families must submit documentation from a certified medical professional of any such condition of a child or family member to qualify. More information here.
○ The SC Department of Education + National Institute for Excellence in Teaching are hosting a virtual training for principals and teachers “to learn more about effective virtual teaching practices.” The training is funded for up to 6,000 educators through the CARES Act. Register here. (Metro Columbia CEO)
○ Gov. McMaster announced that the state of South Carolina will distribute $10 million in PPE to 70 of SC’s 81 school districts. Some of the items include almost 150,000 face shields, 11,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, and over 900,000 different types of masks.
○ Gov. Henry McMaster announced the creation of the Safe Access to Flexible Education (SAFE) Grants. Approximately 5,000 one-time grants of up to $6,500 will be awarded to subsidize tuition for eligible students at participating private, parochial, or independent schools in SC. (The State)
Cancellations + Event Announcements
○ Myrtle Beach’s Carolina Country Music Fest has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Darius Rucker, Luke Combs, Eric Church + Jake Owen, this year’s headliners, are said to be returning June of 2021. (Post and Courier)
○ Pique, Ten at the Top’s young professional event, has been postponed until 2021 because of COVID-19. The organization will hold monthly “Sneak Pique” virtual events leading up to the big in-person event next spring. For questions about ticket sales or refunds, contact Sharon Purvis via email.
○ The 43rd TD Bank Reedy River Run has been cancelled because of COVID-19 concerns. The Greenville Track Club will be contacting each participant via email with several options regarding their registration + refund. The 2021 race is scheduled for Sat., April 17 in downtown Greenville.
○ The Olympics have officially been rescheduled. The new dates for the Tokyo Olympics are July 23-August 8, 2021. (WYFF 4)
○ Flying with a pet anytime soon? Take a look at this resource that helps pet owners stay up-to-date on changing airline policies. The information includes a chart of airlines + their updated COVID-19 travel restrictions. Alternative travel options are also included. Get more details here. (Million Mile Secrets)
○ Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport has installed two new PPE vending machines in high traffic areas of Concourse A and B. Some items travelers can purchase from the kiosks are face masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, and other travel + health products.
○ The first game for Charlotte’s new MLS team has been delayed a year – from 2021 to 2022 – because of COVID-19. The club had already collected 8,000 ticket deposits, translating to 25,000 to 30,000 seats per game. (Forbes)
Biz + Employment
○ Happy + Hale announced that, after three years, they will be temporarily closing their location in downtown Greenville because of ongoing challenges from COVID-19. On the bright side, the health food restaurant also said that they hope to reopen in the spring of 2021.
○ Some of you have been asking for some outdoor dining options in and around Greenville, so here’s an awesome list of some great restaurants with outdoor seating in Greenville + Spartanburg from our friends at Kidding Around Greenville.
○ SC Department of Employment and Workforce will begin highlighting top ‘life boat’ jobs in the state each week. A ‘life boat’ job is a position that an individual, with specific experience, can quickly transition into to achieve financial stability. (WLTX)
○ Two Greenville-based companies – CPT Medical + Hoowaki LLC – are working together to help combat the national shortage of coronavirus testing kits. The kits will be made here in Greenville and will be used by healthcare providers and labs nationwide. “Each specimen collection kit packaged by CPT Medical includes their VTM and the Hoowaki NP Collection Swab.”
○ A local translation service, Ivannovation, LLC, has created informational COVID-19 posters in multiple languages including Burmese, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. If you are interested in downloading these posters for your business, click here.
○ The South Carolina Bar + South Carolina Legal Services have partnered to create a hotline service available to state residents facing evictions or other housing-related legal issues because of COVID-19. The toll-free hotline can be reached at 1-833-958-2266. Callers are asked to leave a message with details about the help requested + contact information. (CRBR)
○ The Columbia-based company ZVerse will be producing 100,000 face shields every day for schools nationwide + the service industry. The company says the shields are durable enough to survive the entire school year and can even be cleaned in the dishwasher. (WIS)
○ The Clemson Cooperative Extension Service’s Agribusiness Team has built a website designed to help those in our state’s agribusiness industry navigate COVID-19 challenges. Topics include Economic Impact Payment Information, cash flow issues related to COVID-19, and more. You can check out their new website here.
○ If you live in the Midlands or Upstate of South Carolina + someone in your household has a disability, you may qualify for a free COVID-19 Sanitation Kit from Able SC. Some items in the kit include face masks, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and more. To get more information and sign-up, click here or call (803) 779-5121.
○ The economic repercussions of COVID-19 may cause a number of child care centers to close permanently. The Institute for Child Success surveyed 100 child care centers across SC in April. A third of them said they would not be able to survive a shutdown. According to this child care desert map, families in lower-income + rural areas in Greenville County have fewer child care options than those areas with higher median incomes in the city. Shutdowns because of the coronavirus could further increase this gap. (Greenville News)
○ ARCpoint Labs, the diagnostic testing lab franchise, has partnered with Ethos Laboratories to create a new test that measures protective immunity to COVID-19, called Tru-Immune. Tru-Immune can detect the presence + magnitude of neutralizing antibodies against the virus that may prevent future infection. Tru-Immune hasn’t been approved by the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization, but Ethos Laboratories has submitted data + statements to the FDA to be reviewed. It is currently being offered at select locations, including the Greenville ARCpoint Labs location.
○ Venture Carolina is allowing all entrepreneurs in South Carolina to download its mental health app Sharpen Founder for free right now. Venture Carolina’s Executive Director, Charlie Banks, notes that, “Even in the best of times, being a founder is incredibly hard work. In today’s trying times, entrepreneurs need every support they can get…” To download the Sharpen Founder app, click here.
○ Catholic Charities of SC has launched Sister Hope, a free chat service for those dealing with stress and anxiety. The service is private and confidential + provides custom mental health help. Check out their Facebook page or text “hi” to (315) 276-3157 for immediate support.
○ The CDC issued new guidance to help reduce the spread of coronavirus between people with pets. Recommendations include the following: do not let your pets interact with people not in your household, keep cats indoors if possible, and avoid dog parks. While domestic pets are not known to transmit coronavirus, there is a possibility that the virus can survive on animals’ fur for up to a few hours.
○ The United Way of Greenville County is updating local volunteer opportunities daily on the Hands on Greenville website. Many of the opportunities are virtual and require no personal interaction. You can also donate to the United Way’s COVID-19 Community Relief Fund here.
○ College and professional sporting events (CBS Sports)
○ Local events (WYFF 4)
○ United Way 211 (United Way)
○ Bilingual coronavirus related resources (Hispanic Alliance)
○ COVID-19 Employer Resource Guide. (Greenville Chamber)
○ COVID-19 Information for the Business Community (South Carolina Chamber)
○ “Connecting our Community” resource page. (City of Greenville)
○ COVID-19 Community Resources (LiveWell Greenville)
○ COVID-19 Upstate SC Links to Information and Resources (Ten at the Top)
○ Kill Covid, Not Small Biz is a website that lists the ways local businesses are making their services + goods available during this time by modifying business operations.
○ Upstate Businesses Offering Take-Out & Special Services (iOnGreenville)
○ Takeout & Delivery Directory (Greenville On The Rise)
○ Retail and restaurant closings, hours of operation updates in Greenville (Greenville Journal)
○ Greenville Food & Beverage (Visit Greenville SC)
○ COVID-19: Where to find food assistance (Kidding Around Greenville)
○ Greenville Area Parks and Outdoors Updates (Visit Greenville SC)
○ The Small Business Administration is offering low-interest disaster loans for eligible small businesses to help mitigate losses due to the pandemic.
Health Care Resources
○ Anyone in South Carolina who has COVID-19-like symptoms can use MUSC Health’s Virtual Care system for free by using the promo code COVID19.
○ Because many hospitals want to avoid having immunocompromised individuals near areas with higher COVID-19 exposure, Palmetto Infusion, an ambulatory infusion clinic, is receiving more referrals to help those living with acute + chronic illness by providing infusion treatments. Their Greenville center is located at 141 Halton Village Circle.
○ Bon Secours Health System is joining the FDA’s national Expanded Access Program to begin using convalescent plasma. Convalescent plasma is plasma that has been collected from those who have recovered from COVID-19. This is not the first time this method is being used – it has been used for Ebola, measles, polio + more. Those who have recovered and are symptom free after 28 days can donate their blood via The Blood Connection. Click here for more info. (Greenville Journal)