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  • Sen. Mia McLeod

My email to Gov. McMaster concerning COVID-19

March 14, 2020

Governor,  In light of the “global pandemic” we’re facing, I am grateful that you’ve declared a State of Emergency here in South Carolina and the President has declared a National Emergency, which will make billions of dollars available to the states to address the actual and anticipated needs of our residents.  As someone who lives with Sickle Cell Anemia, I’m acutely aware of the additional challenges that South Carolinians who live with preexisting health conditions may face in the wake of the respiratory illnesses that are caused and/or exacerbated by this virus. I’m also aware that many of my Senate and House colleagues, as well as our staff members, may be more susceptible to this virus because of advanced age and/or preexisting conditions.  On Friday, I reached out to President Peeler to share my concerns and ask that he consider a Senate furlough or temporary suspension of the legislative session to help prevent community spread of the COVID-19 “Coronavirus.” Today, I’m writing to also make you aware of my concerns and to ask if you will work with our House and Senate leadership to immediately impose the following internal restrictions and protections: 1. Mandatory, paid furlough for non-essential state employees (regardless of Paid Leave status/accrued leave time) to allow time & opportunity to properly sanitize offices and help prevent community spread 2. If/when state employees are allowed to return to work, limit building access to employees and staff only and temporarily close all public access to government buildings and offices 3. Consider virtual/online capabilities for all state employees and allow supervisory discretion so that when feasible, those employees will be allowed to perform their work duties from home 4. Close public access to the State House and all buildings within the State House complex  5. Work with Senate and House leadership to suspend or cancel on-site tours, press conferences, meetings, luncheons, as well as off-site receptions, events, activities and travel that may have been scheduled prior to this global pandemic and your State of Emergency Declaration. I have copied President Peeler and my colleagues on this email and in the interest of not being redundant, would respectfully ask that he consider the same or similar options for members of the Senate. If he approves a Senate furlough, it would allow adequate time for our offices and Chamber to be fully and properly sanitized and for Senate leadership and staff to explore virtual capabilities for Senate members and staff. When the furlough ends and session reconvenes, I would ask that our committee / subcommittee meetings and sessions be closed to the public, since legislative meetings and sessions are live-streamed and therefore, available for public view. Finally, I would respectfully ask that President Peeler also suspend or cancel all on and off-site receptions, events and activities that are scheduled to occur during or after hours. In the coming days, I would welcome an opportunity to talk with you, Governor, about school closings for all S.C. public schools and to explore ways that we may be able to work together to assist parents/guardians with paid leave and other critical support, as well as meet the food and nutritional needs of our students if they are not in school.  It is my hope that we’ll consider implementing some of the bipartisan emergency provisions that have been proposed at the federal level, since the proposed legislation has the President’s support and is awaiting a vote by the US Senate.  Thanks in advance for your consideration, and I look forward to your prompt response.  All the best, Mia

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