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Dear Chamber Members,

Today’s COVID-19 business information compiled by your Greater Sumter Chamber Team includes: SC Reopening Plans UnderwayEmployer COVID-19 Liability ConcernsSC Chamber Webinar Series

ICYMI: SC Bankers Answer Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Questions Webinar TODAY

  • Date: Wednesday, April 15th, 1:00 pm ET
  • Presenters: David Lominack, SC Market President, TD Bank and Fred Green, President and CEO, SC Bankers Association
  • Topic: PPP applications and frequently asked questions.
  • Registration

1. SC Reopening Plans Underway

SC Reopening Plan: In his press conference Monday, Governor McMaster announced that his office would begin working on a “revitalization plan” to get the state’s economy started again. South Carolina is not expecting to see a peak in COVID-19 cases until late April or early May. The Governor’s current restrictions, including the “Home or Work Order,” are unlikely to be lifted until sometime after the state hits its peak. “Compliance has been good,” said Governor McMaster. “But now is not the time to let up.” We appreciate the Governor looking toward the future and making economic recovery a priority.

Other State Plans: Other states that have seen COVID-19 cases begin to flatten are beginning their economic revitalization planning now, and many are working with neighboring states to consider regional plans. For instance, yesterday, the governors of California, Oregon, and Washington announced that they would collaborate on the reopening of the economy in what they are dubbing the “Western Pact.” Similarly, seven governors in the Northeast (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts) announced yesterday that they would also join together to make regional recovery plans. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated that each state would provide a public health official, an economic development official, and the Governor’s chief of staff to participate as members of the group that will formulate a final plan.

It is important to note that nearly all of these states have a projected peak COVID-19 date earlier than SC, and many have already passed the peak date. According to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projections, these states’ peak dates are:

  • Washington State: April 2nd
  • New York: April 8th
  • Delaware: April 9th
  • New Jersey: April 11th
  • California: April 13th
  • Pennsylvania: April 13th
  • Massachusetts: April 20th
  • Connecticut: April 21st
  • Oregon: April 22nd
  • South Carolina: April 24th
  • Rhode Island: April 25th

*The Chamber is in constant contact with organizations throughout the country that are exploring best practices to make recommendations when South Carolina officials are ready to start considering reopening operations. We have reached out to Governor McMaster’s office and asked to be included in conversations as they develop a plan for economic recovery and revitalization.

2. Employer COVID-19 Liability Concerns

As COVID-19 continues to have devastating impacts on businesses, manufacturers, and healthcare workers, an added layer of burden on these industries has also taken shape in the form of legal liability. The US Chamber’s Litigation Center and the Institute for Legal Reform are tracking an “onslaught of COVID-19 litigation” that has already been filed. Yesterday, a white paper detailing the litigation concerns and how policymakers can address them was published by the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA).

Key concerns noted in ATRA’s study are:

  • Concerns for Businesses:
    • Many essential businesses will face lawsuits by customers or visitors, alleging that the business negligently exposed them to coronavirus. These lawsuits will include individuals who did not contract coronavirus, experienced symptoms similar to the common flu, or experienced no symptoms at all.
    • The plaintiffs’ lawyers will attempt to circumvent the workers’ compensation system and bring tort lawsuits against employers for exposure to coronavirus at work.
  • Concern for Manufacturers:
    • Manufacturers are quickly making products, like PPE, to aid in the coronavirus effort. Lawsuits may target manufacturers of these critically needed supplies. Without legislative protection, companies are exposed to product liability lawsuits if a product alleges to have a manufacturing or design flaw or lacks sufficient instructions or warnings regarding the product’s risks or limitations.
  • Concern for Healthcare: Health care providers are bracing for a surge of medical liability actions related to the standard of care provided during the coronavirus crisis.

We are working with national groups and policymakers on ways to protect and mitigate litigation impacts on businesses, manufacturers, and healthcare industries.

3. SC Chamber Webinar Series

COVID-19 Workplace Safety Webinar Recap: The SC Hospital Association and Dr. Terri Rebmann (Associate Dean for Academic & Faculty Affairs, Director of the Institute for Biosecurity, Professor in the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at Saint Louis University) presented a webinar last week, co-sponsored by the SC Chamber, the SC Hospital Association, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of SC.They discussed lowering risk, keeping employees safe, and creating a safe work environment in response to COVID-19.

Some key points from the webinar include:

  • Screening employees coming into work:
    • They do not recommend that all employees have a temperature check when arriving for work, but if employers choose to implement a universal temperature check policy, they should use 100 degrees as the guideline
  • The employee has a suspected COVID-19 exposure:
    • Do not restrict from duty
    • The employee should self-monitor for 14 days:
      • Check temperature twice a day
      • Report symptoms
    • If the employee develops symptoms, they should be restricted from duty and switched to self-isolation
  • Employees who have COVID-19-like symptoms:
    • Do not wait for the employee to get a positive test result before taking action; the employee should be immediately restricted from duty and not return to work until he or she has been fever-free and without respiratory symptoms without the use of medications for at least 24 hours
  • Workplace PPE for employees (recommendations for non-healthcare businesses):
    • Masks recommended for employees who work within 3-6 feet of clients, especially for a prolonged time
      • Masks are currently the most important PPE
    • Gloves if cleaning surfaces (mostly cleaning personnel)
      • Gloves are not 100% protective and can lead to a false sense of security – they are not effective if used improperly
      • It is most important for employees handling cash or documents not to touch their mouth or nose before they practice proper hand hygiene
    • Isolation gown if there is a risk of splashes or spray (mostly in healthcare settings)
  • An infected person has been in the place of business:
    • There is only a theoretical risk of surface contact transmission of COVID-19
    • If an infected person has been in the business, only a routine cleaning with EPA approved COVID-19 cleaners is recommended – the business does not need to shut down for a prolonged time

Click here to watch the webinar.

These and other resources for businesses are available on our website here.

As always, we will keep you up-to-date on any further information as it becomes available. Please feel free to reach out to us here with any questions that you may have regarding the CARES ACT, the Payroll Protection Program or the Governor’s recent Executive Orders.

Have a great day,

Chris Hardy, CCE, IOM
President & CEO

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