The South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health (IMPH) and the North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) recently released the second joint brief examining the COVID-19 pandemic and state and federal policy changes that will impact residents. IMPH and NCIOM actively monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and the analyze state and federal actions to address the health, economic and social fallout of this crisis.

Economic updates: South Carolina budget forecasters project $507 million losses in expected revenue for the current budget year (ending in June) and $643 million in losses for the fiscal year beginning in July.

As of May 1, 2020, SC DHEC has spent $9,298,204.93 of South Carolina’s $45 million contingency reserve fund.

SC task force updates: accelerateSC and DHEC have drafted guidelines for close-contact businesses including gyms, salons, barber shops, massage therapy and public pools. The economic revitalization committee of the task force is developing recommendations for how to spend the $1.9 billion allocated to the state by the federal government.

Public education update: Education leaders from across the state have established accelerateED, a committee designed to break down barriers to online education and plan the safe return of 780,000 students to more than 1,200 schools this fall.

Determining social distancing guidelines for schools will be a challenge, as Greenville County Schools Deputy Superintendent Dr. Scott Turner stated that maintaining the CDC recommended six feet of distance on a 77-passenger school bus would allow only 13 passengers per bus.

Disparities: A disproportionately high number of African Americans are dying from COVID-19. Whites make up 68% of the population of South Carolina and 44% percent of COVID-19 deaths in the state. African Americans account for 27% of the Palmetto State’s population but 56% of COVID-19 deaths; the percentage of deaths for the population more than doubling their representation in the state. Like other minority groups, Latinos’ baseline health inequities have also been exacerbated by COVID-19 and related quarantine measures.

 Read more about South Carolina’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the full policy brief.