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McMaster extends state of emergency for COVID-19 into 2021

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster(WRDW)
Published: Dec. 24, 2020 at 10:38 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina will start the new year under a state of emergency for the coronavirus pandemic after an order issued by Gov. Henry McMaster Thursday.

The 15-day extension of the state of emergency comes the same week the governor’s office announced he tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after his wife, Peggy McMaster, did.

It is one of about 20 orders the governor has issued since March to keep South Carolina in an official state of emergency. Since then, McMaster has lifted most other restrictions on businesses and gatherings and has repeatedly said he will not implement a statewide mask order or any other shutdown measures.

McMaster’s state of emergency orders have pitted the governor against some state lawmakers in a power struggle over whether the Republican governor needs permission from the General Assembly to issue the extensions.

Lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, R-Edgefield, have already pre-filed a handful of bills for the January session that would alter the governor’s ability to put out the state of emergency orders and give legislators the final say.

South Carolina health officials have confirmed more than 260,000 COVID-19 cases and 4,600 deaths since the start of the outbreak.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.