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Cola Daily file photo.

Governor Henry McMaster hosted a briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic in South Carolina today. He and other state department officials spoke on COVID-19 case numbers in the state and how employment and business in South Carolina are affected by the pandemic.

Gov. McMaster began the briefing expressing how proud he is of South Carolina residents in handling the quarantine. He added that “20,918 state employees working from home which is helpful in social distancing.”

The Governor also added that there has been a drastic decrease in cars on the interstate and that beaches are clear. “The good news is that people in South Carolina are staying inside and keeping their social distance,” said McMaster.

In the press conference, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC)’s Dr. Linda Bell, state epidemiologist, announced two additional deaths in South Carolina related to COVID-19. The state’s total number of deaths is now up to nine.

One of the patients was an elderly person from Kershaw County who had underlying health conditions. The second patient was an elderly person from Sumter who also had underlying health conditions.

DHEC is investigating 32 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total of COVID-19 to 456 cases in 39 counties.

The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce’s representative stated that unemployment claims have shot up nearly 1,600% since last week. 2,000 initial claims were filed last week and as of this week the number of claims has reached 31,000.

The Department of Employment and Workforce encourages those with questions on filing for unemployment to visit their website. The department is adding real-time updates online.

Jennifer Fletcher from the Department of Commerce said that South Carolina business have may resources available to them online as the department is actively assisting South Carolina businesses. McMaster added that "the business of South Carolina is business," as he remained optimistic in the reopening of state businesses.

Gov. McMaster did not issue a stay-at-home order for South Carolina and said that will happen if it is found necessary to do so.

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