Virus Outbreak South Carolina

State epidemiologist Linda Bell (right) speaks as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster listens during a COVID-19 briefing on Friday in West Columbia. Meg Kinnard/AP

The unfiltered, first draft of Gov. Henry McMaster’s Executive Order 2020-21.

Whereas, the State of South Carolina is in the middle of an unprecedented, evolving and honest-to-goodness public health threat caused by this coronavirus, cases of which have been reported in all 46 counties, putting tremendous stress on our hospitals, medical professionals and first responders; and

Whereas, despite this crisis, and the fact that DHEC is now identifying nearly 200 new cases in the state every day, until now I have only asked nicely that people stay home rather than issue an order with the force of law behind it. That’s because I thought everyone could act responsibly ... and knew I’d hear it from businesses and some of those conspiracy theorists in Berkeley County who don’t like the "gubmint;" and

Whereas, asking nicely didn’t do any good at all — half of y’all were drinking beer from a funnel on Folly Beach and the rest of y’all were yelling at me on social media; and

Whereas, instead of following my lead — I’ve been social distancing since after that Kiss concert in February — knuckleheads have been congregating on The Battery in downtown Charleston and packing into the Lowe’s, which was so oblivious it put on a major sale during a pandemic; and

Whereas, despite slow-rolling successively restrictive executive orders over the past few weeks — none of which went far enough for those Lowcountry mayors — there are still way too many folks gallivanting around like they don’t have good sense, or know that people can transmit this highly contagious virus without even showing symptoms. Which means they are most likely spreading it and extending the period in which we will be homebound; and

Whereas, just about every other state is doing this and I don’t want anyone comparing me to those governors in Arkansas and Iowa; and

Whereas, I really, really didn’t want to do this, but;

Whereas, you made me.

Now, therefore, be it resolved that I am enacting a statewide South Carolina Home or Work order. That means everyone should stay home and quit running around like they’re on vacation, unless they are going to their job.

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Assuming they still have one.

Also, the Legislature needs to come back and finish its business this week, because if I have to do these press conferences every day and people have to go work in the grocery stores during this madness, y’all can slap together some sort of budget to get us through until we start collecting hotel/motel taxes again.

This order does not expand the existing list of businesses that must remain closed, meaning that everyone is free to go to the Publix, Total Wine or gun store as necessary. But be careful about walking into a gun store with a bandanna over your face.

Since Easter is this Sunday, and I may want another term, I will not shut down churches. But I would ask you to do online or outside services. We don’t want to end up in the news like those crazy televangelists in Florida packing their pews and claiming they are blowing the virus away with their breath.

Also, businesses will now be restricted to five customers per 1,000 square feet of public area, or 20 percent of a building’s occupancy, whichever is less … because, based on the way everyone’s behaved so far, some of these folks are liable to start tailgating in the darn Target.

Anyone found violating this order, or just generally acting like a fool, will be fined $100 per instance or they will spend 30 days in jail.

We will continue to review and revise these orders as science and the crisis dictates, but it’s all very simple: Go home and stay there. This is not martial law, it is common sense. Try to understand the difference.

And remember, I didn’t want to do this, but y’all made me.

Henry McMaster, Governor of the great state of South Carolina.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.