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Charleston Business

S.C. Regulations Waived to Fight Covid-19

Jul 13, 2020 03:53PM ● By David Dykes

By Kevin Dietrich 

Federal and state governments suspended nearly 800 regulations in recent months in the fight against Covid-19. 

Regulations waived range from the Food and Drug Administration giving states more leeway in testing for the coronavirus to allowing out-of-state doctors to treat patients through telehealth to extending the deadline for filing of state and federal income taxes. 

Americans for Tax Reform, a self-described taxpayer advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., compiled the list, which was up to 797 as of last week. 

“Many of these rules and regulations were not necessary in the first place, given their tendency to reduce innovation and access to care, not to mention their restriction on American liberty,” according to the group. 

In South Carolina, more than half a dozen state regulations have been altered or suspended: 

• Issuing “emergency” nursing and medical licenses to combat Covid-19. The state medical board was given authority to expedite temporary licensure for out-of-state physicians, physician assistants and respiratory care practitioners within 24 hours at no fee; 

• Suspending certificate of need laws for projects deemed necessary for fighting Covid-19. In March, Gov. Henry McMaster authorized DHEC to suspend regulations that restrict the use of unlicensed beds or space for the duration of the pandemic. 

• Authorizing psychologists and other counselors to give therapy online for Medicaid recipients. In late March, the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services changed its rules to allow coverage to include those who receive Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income individuals, amid concerns that many were unable to access their usual mental health care during the pandemic; 

• Suspending enforcement of regulations and rules pertaining to registration, permitting, length, width, weight, load, and hours of service for commercial vehicles and operators of commercial vehicles involved in Covid-19 response; 

• Suspending all licensing and registration requirements regarding private security personnel contracted with South Carolina security companies; 

• Authorizing curbside delivery and pickup of alcohol; and 

• Prohibiting the sale of alcohol at South Carolina restaurants and bars after 11 p.m. The order went into effect this past weekend. 

“Many of the young people in our state, as well as around the country, seem not to be taking the virus as seriously as they should, and we hope that this will help all of us, particularly the younger generation, to realize just how serious this virus is, and how much is at stake if we don’t see these infection rates start dropping,” McMaster said during a press conference Friday, July 10, 2020. 

Dozens of more suspended federal regulations affect South Carolinians, as well, including: 

• Dropping the requirement for all Covid-19 test kits to be sent to a Centers for Disease Control lab; 

• Allowing licensed health care professionals to work in a different state from which they are licensed; 

• Loosening HIPAA requirements in order to expand telemedicine; and 

• Authorizing licensed pharmacists to order and administer Covid-19 tests. 

The suspension of regulations comes as the Covid-19 pandemic rages across the country. 

There have been more than 52,000 confirmed cases in South Carolina since March, and more than 900 deaths. In the past week, daily case counts in the state have averaged more than 1,500 and reached as high as 1,782. 

Nationwide, there have been more than 3.2 million confirmed cases and more than 136,000 deaths.