The chief of the board that directs South Carolina’s well being and environmental company promised Wednesday to pick out a brand new director by November as senators questioned how the company is dealing with its emergency powers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The South Carolina Division of Well being and Environmental Management has been with out a director since June when Rick Toomey stepped right down to spend extra time along with his household. Toomey labored for the company for 15 months after DHEC spent 17 months searching for a brand new director.
Company lawyer Marshall Taylor is performing director — the fourth time he has taken that function in his DHEC profession.
It’s crucial with the COVID-19 pandemic that DHEC rent a brand new director as quickly as potential, ensuring that rent can be proper for the job, state Senate Majority Chief Shane Massey advised DHEC Board Chairman Mark Elam at a Wednesday subcommittee assembly.
“DHEC is the purpose company on many of the issues taking place within the state proper now,” mentioned Massey, a Republican from Edgefield.
Elam mentioned the company employed a agency to assist discover a new director and is specializing in in-state candidates. He promised the board would vote on the director in November and have that title prepared for Senate affirmation in January when the Basic Meeting returns.
Sen. Dick Harpootlian questioned Taylor on DHEC’s powers underneath the state of emergency amid the pandemic, inquiring why the company appears hesitant to close down bars and eating places that break pandemic guidelines on masks and crowd sizes after they clearly have the fitting to take action throughout a public well being emergency.
The Columbia Democrat, a frequent critic of bars that break guidelines and trigger high quality of life points in his district close to the College of South Carolina, cited a bar in Horry County that had lots of of individuals with out masks throughout a bike rally in June.
“For those who went within the kitchen and located human excrement, you’ll shut them down proper then,” Harpootlian mentioned.
Taylor mentioned the governor’s emergency orders leaned on native legislation enforcement to deal with the enforcement of pandemic guidelines.
Senators additionally requested in regards to the COVID-19 case numbers reported to the company. On Tuesday, DHEC introduced a Georgia hospital system did not report back to the company the outcomes of 15,000 assessments achieved on South Carolina residents over the previous six months. About 2,000 of the assessments had been constructive, so tracing folks to attempt to cease the unfold of the virus was not possible.
Taylor mentioned he had confidence in DHEC’s COVID-19 numbers, however they had been solely nearly as good as what was reported by labs.
“DHEC stories what’s reported to DHEC,” Taylor mentioned.
The state’s COVID-19 numbers are down from their July peak, when South Carolina was one of many worst states within the nation for brand new instances. However the state has reported 293 new instances per 100,000 folks over the previous two weeks, which ranks ninth within the nation for brand new instances per capita, in keeping with information saved by The Related Press.
DHEC desires the speed of assessments that come again constructive to fall under 5% to really feel assured the pandemic is coming underneath management. South Carolina hasn’t approached that charge in months — and, in keeping with information collected by the company, is second within the nation for highest COVID-19 positivity charges.