As was the case earlier in the Spring and Summer of 2020, the courts are being affected by COVID-19. Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court, Donald Beatty, made an announcement on Jan. 7.
A recent statement from the town of Summerville said, all in-person hearings through the Town of Summerville Municipal Court are suspended effective Monday, January 11, 2021.
The order was made by South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald W. Beatty out of an abundance of caution in helping to reduce risk of exposure to the coronavirus. Bond hearings and emergency hearings will continue. Traffic and criminal cases will be rescheduled once the order is lifted.
Courts statewide did the same thing earlier in 2020 when some shutdowns were ordered by the Governor. Berkeley County Clerk of Court, Leah Guerry Dupree said her courts are making changes to deal with the order.
“There are many moving parts that require a great deal of flexibility with all agencies involved,” she said in an email.
“In family court in light of the Supreme Court Order, only emergency matters including but not limited to DSS emergency protective custody, juvenile detentions, bench warrants and emergency petitions for orders of protections from domestic abuse will be held in-person,” she said.
“Circuit Court will hear in-person emergency matters to include bonds or bench warrants. All non-trial hearings will be held virtually. All jury trial hearings have been suspended until further notice,” said Dupree.
In regards to scheduling, the Dupree’s email said the courts are in the process of arranging set times so that all courts may be accommodated using virtual hearings with the detained litigants. For all non-detained parties, it will operate virtually as a normal docket per the scheduled hearing time.
The order from the Supreme Court Justice said the hearing suspensions are in effect until further notice.
The South Carolina National Guard today administered 76 COVID-19 vaccines to Palmetto State residents at the Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital in Murrells Inlet.
This is the first time the South Carolina National Guard has administered the COVID-19 vaccine to non-military personnel during its 301-day mobilization in support of the state’s COVID-19 pandemic efforts.
The National Guard’s COVID-19 vaccination program is one of several missions the South Carolina National Guard has been engaged in since being mobilized by Governor Henry McMaster in March 2020.
“For more than 10 months the South Carolina National Guard has stood side-by-side with our state partners in providing critical support to state agencies, local healthcare providers, school districts, and the South Carolina Department of Corrections,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Van McCarty, the adjutant general for South Carolina. “It’s been an honor for our more than 470 Soldiers on active duty orders to support the citizens of South Carolina by assisting with mobile COVID-19 testing sites, school food distribution programs, medical screenings, hospital staffing, and vaccine logistics and administration.”
Since March 2020 the South Carolina National Guard has maintained an active duty force of just under 500 Soldiers and Airmen who have conducted more than 788 missions, assisted with COVID-19 testing of more than 242,179 patients across the state, helped provide medical surge personnel to 10 hospitals, medically screened 229 congregate care patients at six different congregate care facilities, medically screened more than 346,100 inmates at 17 different South Carolina Department of Corrections facilities, participated in 62 facility sanitation missions, delivered more than 18,139 meals, and distributed more than 200,000 masks, 31,968 shields, and 205,825 gloves.
At Governor McMaster’s order, the South Carolina National Guard has been mobilized for more than 300 consecutive days in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Adjutant General is a key member of the state’s COVID-19 Unified Command Group led by Governor Henry McMaster.
The South Carolina National Guard Joint Operations Center has been activated along with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division for a coordinated effort.
In support of various state agencies, primarily the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the South Carolina National Guard continues to provide flexible support, shifting resources as necessary based on priority of effort.
The South Carolina National Guard remains ready to support the counties, state and local agencies, and first responders with resources for as long as needed in support of COVID-19 response efforts in the state.
The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office upgraded its uniform look with a recent uniform color change.
Deputies are now wearing green-colored uniforms with a new patch design as opposed to the previous blue uniforms.
Sheriff’s deputies proposed the new uniform design back in May of 2020. The uniform color change will allow citizens to easily identify Sheriff’s Office personnel and allow deputies to stand-out from other agencies.
“We want to be seen in everything that we do.” Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis said. “There are many times where the Sheriff’s Office and our municipal partners are on scene together on a call and our citizens may be confused about which agency a law enforcement officer represents. With the new uniform reveal, it will make it clear to our community who we are.”
The new Sheriff’s Office patch features the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office badge between an American flag and the South Carolina state flag on a black background with gold lettering and outlining.