School’s out for another month in Horry; state of Emergency in Columbus: COVID-19

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     Distance learning underway in Horry County in the aftermath of a state order to close effective March 16 will continue for at least another month, Gov. Henry McMaster and S.C. Supt. of Public Instruction Molly Spearman announced Tuesday.

     This post will be updated during the day (Tuesday, March 24,) and will cover these topics:

  • School’s out another month in Horry, SC
  • State of Emergency in Columbus
  • Virtual press briefing in Horry at 3
  • SBA has loans for Horry, CC

School’s out another month in Horry, SC

     With the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases nearing 300 on Tuesday, at least 16 in Horry County, the new order extends the closing from March 31 to April 30.

     Gov. Roy Cooper extended the closing of schools in North Carolina Monday from March 27 to May 15.

     Horry County Schools implemented an eLearning curriculum, with digital devices offered to students in grades 3-12. Daily assignments will be due when students return to school

     School meals are also available at locations across Horry.

     Spring break us scheduled for April 13-17. School district leaders have not announced any plans to change that schedule.

     State accountability testing requirements from the federal government have been waived for spring 2020, the SC Department of Education reported Monday.

State of Emergency in Columbus

     A State of Emergency has been declared in Columbus County “to coordinate protective actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

     Signed by Columbus County Commissioners Chairman Edwin Russ and effective at 11 a.m. today, the State of Emergency calls COVID-19 a “serious respiratory disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus previously unidentified in humans which can result in serious illness or death and can spread from person to person.”

     It documents a brief history of the disease spread, from the declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization on Jan. 30, through Gov. Roy Cooper’s latest Executive Order, on Monday, extending the closing of public schools through at least May 15 and shuttering additional businesses, including barbers, hair salons, nail salons and massage therapy businesses.

     Impacted by the State of Emergency declaration, it says, are all areas of Columbus County, including its municipalities. It orders law enforcement and other public safety agencies “to cooperate in the enforcement and implementation of the provisions of this Declaration, all applicable local ordinances, state and federal laws, and Columbus County Emergency Operations Plan.”

     Columbus County has, to date, not enacted any restrictions beyond that established by state and federal leaders, and has largely not closed government offices to the public, though it encourages limiting visits and taking care of county business by phone or other electronic means whenever possible to comply with social distancing recommendations from the US Centers for Disease Control and Executive Orders from the governor.

Virtual press briefing in Horry at 3

     A “virtual press briefing related to COVID-19” will be held by Horry County government leaders at 3 p.m. Tuesday, a county news release said.

     In-person attendance will be restricted as the county practices social distancing methods, with both the media and the public invited to view the event live at here and on the Horry County Government Facebook page here.

     Scheduled speakers including County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner, Assistant Administrator for Public Safety & Emergency Management Director Randy Webster, and Public Information Director Kelly Moore.

     Members of the media will be able to ask questions as the briefing concludes via text message to one of the county’s public information officers.

SBA has loans for Horry, CC

     Low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital is being offered in North Carolina and in adjacent counties including Horry for small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza announced Monday.

     SBA acted under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act recently signed by the President, to declare a disaster following a request received from Gov. Roy Cooper on March 17.

     The disaster declaration makes SBA assistance available in the entire state of North Carolina and contiguous counties out of state including Horry.

     “SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist North Carolina small businesses with federal disaster loans. We will be swift in our efforts to help these small businesses recover from the financial impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19),” Carranza said.

     SBA Customer Service Representatives will be available to answer questions about SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and explain the application process.

     “Small businesses, private non-profit organizations of any size, small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture enterprises that have been financially impacted as a direct result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) since Jan. 31, 2020, may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred,” said Carranza.

     “These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. Disaster loans can provide vital economic assistance to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing,” Carranza added.

     Eligibility for Economic Injury Disaster Loans is based on the financial impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses. The interest rate for private non-profit organizations is 2.75 percent.

     SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years and are available to entities without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.

     Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

     Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance.

     Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call 800-877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

     The deadline to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan is Dec. 18.

     For more information about Coronavirus visit Coronavirus.gov.

     For more information about available SBA resources and services visit here.

     Look for continuing coverage on local impacts from the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak here and in the Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.