CITY OF SUMTER COVID-19 UPDATES
Sumter, SC (August 3, 2021)
- that individuals continue to follow the requirements of retail, food service, and other establishments concerning face coverings and social distancing,
- that individuals, businesses, and other establishments continue to follow requirements, guidelines and recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), and any Executive Orders of the Governor concerning use of face coverings and social distancing, and
- that eligible individuals obtain COVID-19 vaccinations as appropriate for them and in accord with guidelines of the CDC and the SCDHEC.
Sumter, SC (April 20, 2021)
City Council unanimously approved a new resolution that recommends that individuals follow the requirements of retail, foodservice and other establishments concerning face coverings and social distancing, and that individuals, businesses and other establishments follow requirements, guidelines and recommendations of the Center for Disease Control, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, and Executive Orders of the Governor concerning use of face coverings and social distancing. A copy of the new ratified resolution can be found here.
Sumter, SC (March 16, 2021)
City Council approved an extension of the mandatory facial mask requirement, within city limits until April 16, 2021, unless further amended or repealed. Original ordinance can be found below. A copy of the ratified extension can be found here.
Sumter, SC (February 26, 2021)
Governor stated "While approval will no longer be required by the Department of Commerce, it is recommended that organizers of large gatherings implement the following, previously mandatory, safety guidelines:
- Limit attendance of large gatherings to either 50% of the event space’s posted occupancy limit or fewer than 250 people
- All employees, customers, patrons, suppliers, vendors, visitors or other people in attendance at a large gathering should wear a face covering
- Organizers, operators, owners, or hosts of a large gathering shall take reasonable steps to incorporate, implement, comply with, and adhere to any relevant sanitation, “social distancing,” and hygiene guidelines established by the CDC, DHEC, or any other state or federal public health officials."
Sumter, SC (January 19, 2021)
City Council approved an extension of the mandatory facial mask requirement, within city limits until March 21, 2021, unless further amended or repealed.
Sumter, SC (December 1, 2021)
City Council approved an extension of the mandatory facial mask requirement, within city limits until January 31, 2021, unless further amended or repealed.
Sumter, SC (November 3, 2020)
City Council approved an extension of the mandatory facial mask requirement, within city limits until December 3, unless further amended or repealed.
Additionally, City Council did not extend the ordinance regarding electronic meetings of Boards and Commissions. This ordinance expired on November 1, 2020.
Sumter, SC (October 16, 2020)
An update from Mayor Joe McElveen:
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) noted on Wednesday that COVID-19 cases in South Carolina and Sumter have plateaued. Analysis by SCDHEC has shown that the areas of the state that have mask ordinances have a lower rate of new cases than those who do not. The agency also advised that it expects a surge in cases in the colder months ahead.
The City of Sumter’s facial covering ordinance, first adopted in July 2020, is still in effect through November 5, and could be extended. According to the SCDHEC website Sumter’s positive testing rate was at 30 percent in July; today that rate has dropped to 10.4 percent. Also, Sumter was among the “top ten” counties for “cases per 100,000 population” in July; as of today, Sumter is at twenty-second.
“The best epidemiologists in the world are here in our country; and they say masks are essential to driving down spread of the virus,” stated Mayor Joe McElveen. “If it helps protect the wearer and protects the general public, we should keep it up and encourage our family, friends and associates to do the same. Let’s continue to show that we care about each other in Sumter.”
At an event in Columbia this week, Dr. Robert Redfield, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said what happens over the next three, four months is in the hands of the American public. “If every one of us embraced face coverings, social distancing, hand washing, and crowd control, we all did that, we would really control this pandemic. We wouldn’t eliminate it, but we would bring it back under control within six to 12 weeks.”
The Mayor encourages everyone to continue to wear masks, practice distancing, wash their hands often, and please respect your fellow community members and understand that each one faces their own challenges with this virus. “If we do this consistently over the next few months, we should have fewer COVID-19 cases, and we might even have a lower impact from influenza,” stated McElveen.
For more updates and a copy of the city’s facial ordinance please visit the City of Sumter’s COVID-19 Updates webpage at https://www.sumtersc.gov/news/city-sumter-covid-19-updates.
Mayor Joe McElveen
Sumter, SC (October 6, 2020)
City Council approved an extension of the mandatory facial mask requirement, within the city limits until November 5, unless further amended or repealed. For a copy of the extension, click here.
Sumter, SC (September 23, 2020)
A message from Mayor Joe McElveen:
We know that masks and separation are the key to slowing COVID-19. City Council has renewed the City of Sumter ordinance requiring masks three times. The current extension will be up for renewal again at our meeting on October 7.
Analysis of data by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) has established that areas with a mask ordinance are seeing a reduction in cases, while those without such a law are increasing. The data indicates that wearing a mask and avoiding close contact with others is the way to beat back COVID-19.
Keep in mind that the things we are doing to defeat COVID-19 are also likely to help keep the influenza infections down. In 2018, the last year for which I can find statistics, 882 people in SC died from “Pneumonia and Influenza”; COVID-19 has killed around 3,000 in eight months—about 75 in Sumter. Comparatively, COVID-19 would have been the fifth largest cause of death in SC in 2018, just behind “Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease” (2,990).
Those who know the most about the coronavirus say that this crisis is not over. Please wear a mask or proper face covering every time you are in public, practice social/physical distancing, and wash your hands frequently. Let’s continue working together to keep our home and community safe and healthy.
To read the full facial mask ordinance and updates, click here.
Mayor Joe McElveen
Sumter, SC (September 1, 2020, 7PM)
Council approved the extension of all four emergency ordinances:
- Emergency Ordinance Requiring Face Coverings (Extended through October 7, 2020) For additional info, click here.
- Temporary Prohibition of Peddler Activity (Extended through November 1, 2020)
- Concerning Public Meetings and Boards & Commissions (Extended through November 1, 2020)
- Concerning Electronic Meetings (Extended through November 1, 2020)
Sumter, SC (July 28, 2020, 11AM)
Sumter, SC (July 21, 2020, 8PM)
Council approved the extension of two emergency ordinances:
- Temporary prohibition of peddler activity and temporary issuance of peddler badges (limits activity of door-to-door sales in business and residential areas through September 20);
- Extension of the mandatory facial mask requirement within the city limits until August 21, unless further amended or repealed. Exceptions to the mask ordinance are:
- When outdoors (except in attached outdoor or unenclosed areas of retail and food service establishments when physical/social distancing of at least six feet is not possible or is not observed)
- Children under age eight years
- In private offices
- If masks aggravate a health condition
- If receiving medical or dental services involving the mouth or nose
- Customers while eating and drinking at food service establishments
- If masks contradict religious beliefs
- When complying with law enforcement officers
Sumter, SC (July 1, 2020 3PM)
Sumter, SC (June 24, 2020, 11AM)
The Sumter community is continuing to see increases in the number of active COVID-19 cases, including a significant jump in the past two weeks. We strongly encourage everyone to continue to follow the social/physical distancing guidelines endorsed by SC DHEC. Those include staying at least 6 feet apart from other people, wearing a mask in public, washing your hands frequently, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
More info on SCDHEC website: https://www.scdhec.gov/infectious-diseases/viruses/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19
Sumter, SC (June 10, 2020, 2PM)
There are FREE SC DHEC COVID-19 pop-up testing clinics happening tomorrow, June 11, and next week (June 16 & 18) in Sumter, SC.
For details and a full list of clinics by location, visit scdhec.gov/covid19mobileclinics.
Sumter, SC (May 15, 2020, 2PM)
All City and County Parks will reopen on Tuesday, May 19 with limitations. Parks will not have restrooms or playground equipment available for use.
We ask you to continue to follow the guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in regards to social distancing. Please stay a minimum of 6 feet apart from one another and do not congregate in groups.
Sumter, SC (May 5, 2020, 4pm)
Sumter, SC (April 29, 2020, 4pm)
My friends, I know it has been a tough couple of months. First and foremost, I am proud of our community for remaining vigilant through this unusual time, but while many areas in our state and nation are preparing to transition back to normal, I want to encourage all of us to continue remaining vigilant—stay home as much as possible, and use caution when you need to go out. The experts at the CDC and our healthcare professionals have provided excellent guidelines for us to follow, and I urge you to continue to consider these guidelines in the days ahead. From what I have read and learned from healthcare workers (at home and elsewhere), the future will be better for cities and counties that continue to be smart.
It is concerning that Sumter—the fifteenth largest county in SC—has the fifth-highest infection rate in the state. Among the “Top Five” are Clarendon, Kershaw, Lee and Richland counties. I believe we in Sumter must be very aware that we are in a “cluster” of four abutting counties with high rates of infection. In normal times, residents of all five counties visit each other in large numbers, especially with Sumter citizens working in neighboring counties and citizens of the other counties working in Sumter.
I reference the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation maintained by the University of Washington daily for information pertaining to COVID-19 as it affects South Carolina—also referenced on the SCDHEC website. The IHME website states the following as of Monday, April 27:
“After June 8, 2020, relaxing social distancing may be possible with containment strategies that include testing, contact tracing, isolation, and limiting gathering size”.
The following day, the date was changed to June 13 because the governor relaxed somewhat his “stay at home or work” order. (It increased the projected death rate for South Carolina and the United States.) A “projection” suggests that things could be better or worse. In any event, I plead with all citizens of Sumter and our surrounding counties to please continue all of the things that have been asked of you since Governor McMaster issued his “stay at home or work” executive order on April 7.
Remember that although the governor has relaxed his order by allowing some retail establishments to open and may open some more this week, he has renewed his emergency declaration and still calls upon us to continue all of the requirements that promote good public health and social/physical separation. He calls on businesses to take steps to protect employees and the public. Look for businesses that have those protections in place. Also remember that our City is still under curfew from 11 PM until 5 AM each day. Access to our parks and public facilities remain closed at this time – all this is for the safety of our residents and our employees. City services and employees remain available to you on our regular schedule; however, if you need anything from us, we ask that you contact us via phone or through our website at www.sumtersc.gov.
So, we are being asked to continue all the restrictions on our daily life for the time being. We are told these hardships will need to continue for some time—even after June 8. I have read that studies of the “Spanish Flu” pandemic of 1918 show that places that observed the separation rules the longest made the greatest short- and long-term recoveries. Those who know the most about coronaviruses say that the infection and death rates in our country would be even higher if most people were not taking separation seriously.
When we feel like things are completely overwhelming, let’s remember that we have seen worse times in the history of our country and city, but I will say that I personally remember nothing any worse than the current pandemic. Looking back at more recent events, I think of Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and how bad things looked the morning after, and I remember the Great Flood of 2015 and how for months I got scared every time it rained. However, we are going to get through this and be stronger on the other side.
Sumter is a community of strong faith, I know many here are praying for comfort and peace for those who have lost a loved one and comfort and recovery for those with the virus. My family and I are among those praying. I believe that we came back stronger after those catastrophes. And we WILL do it again!
Mayor Joe McElveen
Sumter, SC (April 22, 2020)
All four emergency ordinances related to COVID-19 previously approved by unanimous vote by City Council have been extended, including:
- Declaring Certain Health & Safety Precautions, extended until May 6, 2020.
- Extending the Curfew within the City limits, from 11pm to 5am, until May 6, 2020.
- Authorizing electronic meetings for City Council, extended until June 21, 2020.
- Temporarily postponing meetings for City Boards and Commissions, extended through June 20, 2020.
Sumter, SC (April 18, 2020, 10AM)
Listen to Mayor McElveen and staff discuss updates to COVID-19 in Sumter, SC (As aired on Community Broadcasters WDXY 105.9FM on Saturday, April 18 at 10AM and Sunday, April 19 at 2PM).
Audio coming soon...
Segment 1: Public Safety
Segment 2: Public Safety
Segment 3: Utilities
Segment 4: Mayor and City Manager
Segment 5: Mayor and City Manager
Sumter, SC (April 9, 2020, 3PM)
How many times have Sumterites hunkered down in preparation for a hurricane? Sometimes we are hit; more often, we are not. But our common sense tells us, “Don’t take a chance.” We need to treat the coronavirus the same way. The next couple of weeks are a critical time. The US Surgeon General has likened this situation to Pearl Harbor or 9/11.
The experts have devoted their lives to controlling infectious diseases. While I hope they are wrong about the danger we face, the odds are that they are not. Are you willing to risk your life and health, or that of your loved ones, based on the chance that they might be wrong? I am not.
Please! Please! I plead with everyone in Sumter to abide by our governor’s “home or work” order. Observe the city-wide curfew. Stay at home and leave only for work and essential needs. If you leave home, make sure you avoid close contact with other people. A mask will help keep you from infecting others. Remember that the virus has a long incubation period, and there are many who have it and don’t know it yet.
We have provided important COVID-19 documents, links and guidance on our website for you to follow, www.sumtersc.gov (then click on the COVID-19 image).
It’s time to double down on physical separation. You CAN make a difference.
Thank you. Mayor Joe McElveen
Sumter, SC (April 7, 2020, 4:30PM)
Sumter, SC (April 6, 2020, 4:30PM)
Gov. Henry McMaster today issued a mandatory home or work order that will go into effect at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7, 2020.
“Everyone should stay home,” he said, unless they are working, visiting family, recreating outdoors or obtaining necessary goods or services.
In Sumter County, all city and county parks are closed, as is Poinsett State Park.
Retail stores that are open are required to adhere to social distancing guidelines which call for staying 6 feet apart, McMaster said. He also said today that stores will not be allowed to have more than five customers for every 1,000-square-feet or 20 percent of the store’s capacity, according to fire marshals.
Non-compliance with these new measures will result in 30 days in jail for each day of violation or a $100 fine. “It is time,” he said, citing data and guidance from experts.
There have been too many people on the roads, waters and in the stores not adhering to social distancing, he said. “We’ve asked, we’ve urged, we’ve suggested,” he said, but the last week showed that his orders have not been enough as the rate of infection of the coronavirus has risen with non-compliance.
By the end of this week, he said about 200,000 people will have filed for unemployment, which is “just the tip of the iceberg.” McMaster said “we must be aggressive” in going after the coronavirus while not damaging businesses. He also called for the General Assembly to return as planned on Wednesday to work on the budget.
As for Easter services, he said his office continues to urge churches to stream services online or meet outdoors and if that’s not possible, to provide social distancing.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said the total number of coronavirus cases is now 2,232. The last week saw an “accelerated rate of infections in South Carolina,” she said.
Sumter, SC (April 1, 2020, 1PM)
FAQ’s with Mayor Joe McElveen
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many changes to daily life, and just as many questions about what’s happening, why, and what will happen in the future. In the face of uncertainty, it’s easy to get the wrong information. Sumter Mayor Joseph T. McElveen addresses some of the most frequently asked questions and concerns:
Q: How long will “social” or “physical distancing” guidelines remain in place?”
A: Our president has continued his order that we citizens observe “social” or “physical distancing” through at least the month of April. We all should recognize that the coronavirus situation is very, very serious and that it’s likely to be with us for a while. It may get better with warmer weather coming, but we don’t know that just yet. The main things we citizens can do right now are to avoid contact with others and frequently wash our hands.
Q: How are Sumter’s citizens dealing with the situation?
A: I drove around Sumter this past weekend, and it looks as though most of our citizens are observing the “three-person rule” put out by Governor McMaster. I am proud of how many Sumter citizens realize the importance of separation. I have received a few reports of people refusing to observe physical separation, and some continue to express that they do not believe we are in an emergency. Overall, though, things are going well according to our Chief of Police and other sources.
Q: Why are the restrictions necessary, and will there be more of them?
A: I am no medical expert, but I have read a lot about the virus, listened to men and women on television who have devoted their lives to learning about viruses, and talked to local doctors and other health care professionals. This I know for certain — we are in the midst of a pandemic. And as in any situation, there will be those who act contrary to their own best interests and those of others.
The coronavirus is killing people, and it’s sneaky. A person can have it and never have a symptom, but will potentially infect every person with whom he comes in contact. We are going to see an increase in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Sumter over the next few days. The suddenness of the increase could be because of slow turnaround in test results — up to seven days’ delay. However, local officials are not getting reports on the total number of tests. Results are reported on or after the date they are received, not by the date of testing.
Once again I stress do not get hung up on the number of positive results. South Carolina is not yet testing that many people. I have read that up to 25% of people with the COVID-19 have NO symptoms, but yet can infect you or me if we come in contact with them.
Young or old, you do not want this virus. The symptoms sound agonizing. One survivor said that when the breathing problems start, you are sure you will die. Not one of us wants to be the cause of another person getting this virus and suffering. If we don’t take the necessary precautions, that person could be someone we love. The notion that this virus infects only older people with medical conditions is just wrong. Young people have medical conditions, known and unknown, too. Listen to interviews with healthcare professionals treating COVID-19 patients.
Q: Why hasn’t the City imposed a curfew or issued a “stay at home” ordinance?
A: Most people in Sumter are not causing problems and are staying at home. Another issue is the legality of a city declaring an emergency or ordering its citizens to do something when the Governor has declared a statewide state of emergency. It’s in our best interests to comply with the Governor’s orders. Sumter will enforce the Governor’s “three-person rule.” It’s best to delay in-person group gatherings of any kind right now. If you and the people you live with are driving around town to get out of the house, that’s okay. If you are picking up friends to ride with you, that is not smart and not okay.
Local health care officials have told me that the virus is going to get worse and perhaps hit a peak in one to two weeks. There is a lot we don’t know about what is going to happen, so we need to be smart about what we do and where we go even after the Governor’s order is rescinded. City Council will rely heavily on the advice of Police Chief Roark and our city manager, Deron McCormick, as to whether we need to have a curfew or something more restrictive. I hope that doesn’t become necessary.
Let me make a suggestion: Let’s do “stay at home” or “shelter in place” voluntarily in the Sumter Community. We shouldn’t need a law or executive order to make us act to protect ourselves and the people we care about.
Q: What businesses are required to be closed?
A: Governor McMaster today ordered that all non-essential businesses close in South Carolina. These executive orders typically last for a duration of 15 days. This executive order goes into effect on April 1, 2020 at 5:00 PM and includes:
- Entertainment venues and facilities - Night clubs, bowling alleys, arcades, concert venues, theaters, auditoriums and performing arts centers, tourist attractions (museums, aquariums, and planetariums), racetracks, indoor children’s play areas excluding daycare facilities, adult entertainment venues, bingo halls, and venues operated by social clubs.
- Recreational and athletic facilities and activities - Fitness and exercise centers and commercial gyms, spas and public or commercial swimming pools, group exercise facilities, spectator sports, sports that involve interaction with another person in close proximity and within less than 6 feet of another person, activities that require the use of shared sporting apparatus and equipment, activities on commercial or public playground equipment.
- Close contact service providers - Barbershops, hair salons, waxing salons, threading salons, nail salons and spas, body-art facilities and tattoo services, tanning salons, massage therapy establishments, and massage services.
Q: How can local businesses help?
A: I am so proud of how so many businesses in Sumter have acted voluntarily to protect their employees and customers. Physical separation, frequent disinfection, marking off intervals in store lines, offering drive-through and curbside pick-up services — as much as some of them are hurting financially right now, they have really stepped up in working to keep us all safe. I believe our community will continue to support them when the crisis abates. Please support businesses in Sumter as much as you safely. Many will struggle to stay afloat, and it will get worse as more time passes.
Q: Why are the parks closed? Fresh air and sunlight are good for people, and it helps to be able to get out of the house.
A: We tried to keep them open, but we have received many calls from people planning to bring groups of people here from other communities. This would not be a good thing at this time. We also had people running into people they knew, and they ended up gathering in groups larger than recommended. So we had to close the parks. Also, the state closed all state parks.
Q: What city services are still running?
A: We’ve worked hard to minimize disruption of services, and with the exception of curbside recycling, all city services are continuing. Curbside recycling requires workers to handle household items, so it will resume as soon as it’s safe for our workers to do so.
For those who would still like to continue recycling, all recycling centers and the county landfill are open to their regular hours. There are nine (9) recycling centers across the county and one landfill (details are listed here).
Convenience pay centers, such as at the Treasurer’s Office (20 North Magnolia Street) and Summary Court (190 East Canal Street) are open, so if you need to pay your taxes or a ticket, you can still do that. The Liberty Center, located at 12 W. Liberty Street, which houses Business License, Planning, Building and Codes offices is still open, you can call their offices directly to handle most requests via phone, but access to the facility is limited to the rear entrance.
Q: Have there been any changes to medical privacy laws?
A: HIPAA laws are still in effect; however, to help keep our first responders safe, Governor McMaster has issued an executive order allowing our 911 operators to ask about COVID-19 exposure or positive test results. We are complying with that.
Q: I keep hearing rumors about different things that have happened or will happen. How do we know what’s true and what isn’t?
A: In times like this, there are bound to be a lot of rumors. There was a rumor that the City planned to shut off the water, and let me state strongly, that will NOT happen unless there is a line break that needs repair. We are constantly updating our website at www.sumtersc.gov, social media via Facebook and Twitter, and news media. If you aren’t sure about something, that’s where you need to be checking.
Q: Do you have any other advice for our citizens?
A: If you really want to avoid the virus, wash your hands throughout the day, stay at home as much as you can and avoid other people. Please practice physical separation. Please safely take care of neighbors and families who need help. Please contribute to our local caring agencies. Please pray for those affected by the virus and their families, for those on the front lines protecting us, and helping those who have been infected. In many instances, they are risking their lives for their neighbors. If we do our part to help “flatten the curve” — reduce the number of cases — we will make it through and see a better day.
Sumter, SC (March 31, 2020, 5PM)
Gov. Henry McMaster today ordered non-essential businesses closed in South Carolina. The executive order goes into effect on April 1, 2020 and includes:
Entertainment venues and facilities:
Night clubs, bowling alleys, arcades, concert venues, theaters, auditoriums and performing arts centers, tourist attractions (museums, aquariums, and planetariums), racetracks, indoor children’s play areas excluding daycare facilities, adult entertainment venues, bingo halls, and venues operated by social clubs.
Recreational and athletic facilities and activities:
Fitness and exercise centers and commercial gyms, spas and public or commercial swimming pools, group exercise facilities, spectator sports, sports that involve interaction with another person in close proximity and within less than 6 feet of another person, activities that require the use of shared sporting apparatus and equipment, activities on commercial or public playground equipment
Close contact service providers:
Barbershops, hair salons, waxing salons, threading salons, nail salons and spas, body-art facilities and tattoo services, tanning salons, massage therapy establishments, and massage services.
This latest executive order follows a March 30, 2020, executive order that closes all public access points to the state’s beaches, as well as the closure of public boat ramps, landings and other access points to lakes, rivers, and waterways.
Sumter, SC (March 29, 2020, 7PM)
The recycling centers and the landfill are still open if you have large items or want to continue recycling. Details and addresses of the nine (9) recycling centers around Sumter County are on our website... https://www.sumtersc.gov/publicservices/sanitation/recycling. Thank you.
Sumter, SC (March 27, 2020, 2PM)
Sumter, SC (March 27, 2020 12PM)
The Sumter Item's COVID-19 Response - Featured Guest: Mayor Joe McElveen, City of Sumter
"We talked to the mayor live on Zoom earlier today, with the public also viewing and submitting questions, about the city’s response to this pandemic. He gave some insightful and honest thoughts on how we should all practice social distancing..."
Sumter, SC (March 26, 2020, 11:30AM)
As I write, Sumter now has 10 confirmed cases and one death related to the virus. My prayers and those of the Sumter community go out to those who are fighting to recover, and especially to the family of our neighbor who succumbed. Do not think that we “only” have 10; that’s just how many have been confirmed.
We know COVID-19 is in our community; there are most probably people with the virus who do not know it. Some of those will never be aware they had it. We must do all that we can to prevent its spread. Physical separation is the key to keeping this virus from spreading quickly across our community. While some are taking this seriously, many are not taking this seriously enough and we need to do better for the safety and welfare of our entire community. While the governor has not officially directed a “shelter in place,” citizens can and should follow this on their own. Please become educated on the science behind “flattening the curve.” Although Sumter is fortunate not to have a large number of cases so far, this is likely to change in the coming weeks. Prevention now means that if the worst happens, medical systems will not be overwhelmed and as many affected citizens as possible will have a fighting chance of beating the virus.
The City of Sumter is committed to keeping our community safe and healthy while still maintaining as many of our government services as we can. In an effort to do our part to reduce our community’s exposure to COVID-19, the city has closed all playgrounds and equipment, and all city offices are closed to public access until further notice. Citizens and businesses can still take care of government matters during this time, primarily by phone, email and the city’s online services at www.sumtersc.gov. We will also be enforcing Governor McMaster’s order restricting gatherings of more than three persons together in one area.
Please remember our city employees in your thoughts and prayers as these folks continue to serve our community daily. Not only do we have police and firefighters protecting us around the clock, but we have maintenance crews with our water and sewer systems, sanitation workers carrying out their duties, crews keeping our parks open and tree limbs clear from danger, administrative staff who must work diligently to keep our financial systems healthy, with a new budget that is required to be balanced and approved by June 30, and many more essential operations. As we are doing all we can – separation, frequent cleaning, and the like – we ask our residents and citizens to do what you can too.
Remember, safety first, we are trying to strike a balance between letting citizens do what they need to get done but protecting our community from a massive spread of the virus. The next step is to severely restrict activity, so please abide by the President’s guidelines as well as those from Governor McMaster. Help your fellow man and support businesses as you can while practicing safe habits given to us by the CDC. Additionally, if you can donate to help our caring agencies and charities, please do.
We have created a dedicated page on the City’s website to access links to all of this important information on COVID-19, please visit www.sumtersc.gov.
Mayor Joe McElveen
Sumter, SC (March 23, 2020, 5:45PM)
In order to minimize exposure to COVID-19, the City of Sumter and Sumter County have decided to close playground equipment at all parks, effective immediately (Monday, March 23). Playground equipment has not been sanitized.
Although parks will remain open, residents are asked to exercise precaution and practice social distancing while outdoors. Please follow the below guidelines:
- Do not use parks or trails if you are sick or exhibiting symptoms.
- Observe CDC’s minimum recommended social distancing of 6 feet from other persons at all times.
- Follow CDC guidance on personal hygiene to visiting parks or trails.
- Be prepared for limited access to public restrooms or water fountains.
- Share the trail and warn other trail users of your presence and as you pass.
We understand residents’ need to maintain their physical and mental health, and encourage them to do so safely, following the above guidelines. Thank you.
Sumter, SC (March 23, 2020, 1PM)
Effective immediately (starting Tuesday, March 24), for the safety of our staff, the City of Sumter sanitation crews will not be sorting recycling by hand at the curb during pickup. Please bag your recycling items and place them in the same container as your regular trash, until further notice. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Sumter, SC (March, 21, 2020, 10AM)
I want to thank the citizens of Sumter who are taking the COVID-19 threat seriously. My heart and prayers go out to all who have contracted this virus and especially to those who have lost loved ones. People and pastors all over Sumter are vigorously praying for guidance, protection, and deliverance. As I said in a proclamation I issued on Thursday, we will have a day of thanksgiving when this challenge ends.
On behalf of all citizens, I want to thank all medical personnel who are on the front lines of this pandemic. The same is true of our first responders, the Sumter Police Department, the Sumter Fire Department, the Sumter County Sheriff’s Department, and, of course, emergency medical technicians. They put their own health and lives on the line daily as this situation unfolds. Service to others is not new to these protectors, but the danger they face now is insidious and we know too little about it. Let’s pray daily for them.
I also ask for continued prayers for our neighbors who are stationed at Shaw Air Force Base. While many members of these families are spread around the world defending our country, they now face another threat, which their loved ones must face at home without them. All of this as the 20th Fighter Wing prepares to deploy contingents.
I just took part in an online conference that had experts in crisis management and communicable disease on the speakers’ panel. What we learned will be helpful for future threats, but there is a lot that the experts do not know now. One speaker said the issue right now is more of a logistical problem than a health issue: how do we get what is needed, where it is needed and when it is needed? Experts know that there are unreported cases out there. Some believe there are 100 unreported cases for every confirmed case. The things we are being asked to do now are going to hopefully decrease the number of new cases so that our healthcare system can manage the COVID-19 cases and the normal things that must go on in a hospital from day to day.
Experts know that, if we do not practice “social distancing” and do the other things that are being suggested, there will be a barrage of new cases that will overwhelm the system. If we practice those recommendations, we can reduce new cases or reduce the frequency of new cases. We do not want a situation where a person with a serious heart problem, for example, cannot get treatment because virus victims are filling all beds and using all ventilators.
I am proud of the way that Sumterites are responding to the requests for separation. I see no need for us to have a curfew at this time. Many are working from home and staying at home. Schools have closed and our District is working to make sure that children get what they need. Sumter United Ministries is preparing to help the neediest among us. Santee Senior Services has made arrangements to get food to our senior citizens. As I said, our first responders are protecting themselves, while serving our citizens. City and County government offices are working together to adjust operations to minimize contact. Businesses and restaurants are really going to suffer, but they are finding safe, new ways to sell their products while protecting employees and the public.
I have just a few requests:
- Parents, I know you were not planning to have kids home all day. I know it can be tough to find childcare. But “social separation” must be practiced by children too. Don’t have “play dates” or other gatherings. Children can get this too. Do your best to follow the “separation rules.”
- Young adults, the same applies to you. Young people ARE contracting COVID-19, although admittedly at a lower level than older people and those with “underlying medical conditions.” However, every one of us has someone who is at high risk whom we love. So, follow the rules for those people. Do not congregate in groups.
- For businesses that are staying open, please find ways to enforce separation when customers are in your grocery store or picking up takeout food. For instance, I was in a pharmacy last night which had yellow tape marking off ten foot intervals for customers waiting in line.
- For all residents and visitors, if you have symptoms—fever, coughing, and shortness of breath, to mention the ones most often mentioned—call a doctor or Prisma Tuomey to arrange a virtual appointment online: prismahealth.org/virtual-visit.
- If an elderly or otherwise high-risk person is a neighbor, safely check on them and help them get essentials if you can. If you cannot do it safely and suspect something is wrong, report that fact to law enforcement.
- You can find very detailed instructions for what to do during this time on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website: coronavirus.gov.
- Our caring agencies and charities will need financial help as they are stretched financially to take care of the vulnerable beyond what they could have anticipated. If you can, donate to help.
I know that Sumter will do what is right and what is smart to get to the other side of this crisis. I believe that the best people in the world live here, and you are going to prove me right again.
Thank you and may God continue to bless our community.
Mayor Joe McElveen
Sumter, SC (March 18, 2020, 5PM)
- The Mayor is hosting a “Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer” Thursday, March 19. We ask all churches and people of faith to lift up prayers for God’s protection over our community that we will have few infections and that those infected will survive and be restored to health. Thank you and may God continue to bless our Sumter community. Join us tomorrow! Click here to read the full proclamation.
- At this time all public performances have been postponed or canceled through Sunday, April 5th. We are also instituting additional measures in regards to our Box Office. All in person sales have been halted through April 5th. The Box Office will be available for phone sales (803-436-2616) Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 5 pm. Tickets are available 24/7 online at SumterOperaHouse.com. Questions can also be submitted at our website via the CONTACT US link. We will reevaluate these changes as more information is available. Please check back with us for updates.
- The City has suspended all scheduled event and procession permits and street closures. Additionally, any new requests received will not be considered until we resume normal business functions.
- All in person sales at the Visitors Center have been suspended. You may make a payment to your rental contract over the phone by calling 803-436-2640.
- We’re asking for every person to consider giving blood during this challenging time, and we are asking you as the mayor to help communicate this critical need. Those who are healthy and eligible to give blood or platelets are urged to make an appointment to donate as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Sumter, SC (March 17, 2020 6:30PM)
In the interest of public safety and to help minimalize the exposure to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the City of Sumter will be modifying operations effective March 17-31. We will reevaluate these changes as more information is available. Considering recommendations made by the CDC and SC DHEC, access to certain city facilities will be restricted to the public:
CITY HALL (HUMAN RESOURCES/ADMINISTRATION) (21 N. MAIN STREET)
Access will be limited. Offices may be reached by phone at 803-436-2500.
FIRE DEPARTMENT (ALL STATIONS)
All stations are restricted and not be able to receive any food, goodies, or etc. from the public at this time. The building will be locked down and only Fire Department personnel will be allowed in. This includes family members, retirees, other City Employees unless otherwise approved by the Fire Chief. For emergencies call 9-1-1 or non-emergencies call 803-436-2600.
LIBERTY CENTER (PLANNING, BUSINESS LICENSE, BUILDING PERMITS, EVENTS, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT) (12 W. LIBERTY STREET)
Access to the facility is limited. All visitors must enter through back entrance only. Faster service desks have been moved into the hallway to help expedite customers
PUBLIC SERVICES (303 E. LIBERTY STREET)
- Garbage collection remains on schedule.
- Recycling services remain on schedule.
- Yard debris will remain on schedule.
- Utility repairs will not be affected. If you are experiencing any issues, please call 803-436-2558.
TENNIS CENTER (411 THEATRE DRIVE) & AQUATICS CENTER (1115 S. LAFAYETTE BLVD)
All scheduled programming is cancelled. Free play is open; however, neither facility will have loaner equipment available to the public.
UTILITY BILLING DEPARTMENT (130 S. HARVIN STREET)
The lobby at our Utility Billing Department, located at 130 S. Harvin Street is closed. At this time, only the drive-thru window will remain open.
The following services can be performed online at www.sumtersc.gov/utilities/accounts:
- Pay Your Bill.
- Start New Service.
- Stop Service.
- Request Temporary Service.
- Start a Bank Draft.
Our customer service representatives remain available to the public via email at email@example.com or phone 803-436-2541.
VISITORS CENTER (822 W. LIBERTY STREET)
All events and rental requests have been cancelled and/or postponed. For more info call 803-436-2640.
Sumter, SC (March 16, 2020, 10:30AM)
Until further notice, the City of Sumter will be closing the lobby to the public at our Utility Billing Department, located at 130 S. Harvin Street. At this time, the drive-thru window will remain open.
Additionally, the following services can be performed online at www.sumtersc.gov/utilities/accounts:
- Pay Your Bill.
- Start New Service.
- Stop Service.
- Request Temporary Service.
- Start a Bank Draft.
Our customer service representatives remain available to the public via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 803-436-2541 (Monday-Friday 8:30-5:00). If you have any concerns over service disruptions, please call our office directly.
Sumter, SC (March 13, 2020, 4PM)
To help minimalize the exposure of COVID-19, we would like to encourage all customers to pay your bill online. You may register to pay or make a one-time payment, depending on your preference.
Our system allows VISA, MASTERCARD, DISCOVER AND ECHECK.
To complete this process, all you need is your account number from your paper bill. Payments made after 5PM will be posted the next business day. For each payment, you will receive a confirmation number for your records.
If you have questions about your bill, please call 803-436-2541 or visit our online account services at https://www.sumtersc.gov/utilities/accounts.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Sumter, SC (March 13, 2020, 12PM)
Additional links from the CDC on COVID-19 illness prevention:
What to do if you are sick. (Remember, if you are experiencing symptoms, Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital encourages you to do a FREE virtual test. Just enter the promo code COVID19 on their site, which is accessible by your mobile device or computer.) Click here to Prisma's virtual site.
Sumter, SC (March 12, 2020)
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continue to rise, our community must take steps necessary to reduce the risk of exposure.
The national and state directives are very explicit in what you need to be doing to minimize an outbreak of coronavirus. Most of which are common sense factors in line with safe hygiene and personal habits:
- Frequently, vigorously and thoroughly wash hands with soap and water,
- Refrain from touching others – practice alternatives to customary greetings,
- Refrain from touching your own face and mouth,
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze,
- Stay at home if you are sick.
The City of Sumter is taking this seriously and are stressing safe practices with all of our employees and in all office facilities. We are encouraging all employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness to stay home, provided hand hygiene products to all government departments, and perform routine cleaning.
As we move forward we will be evaluating meetings and events on an ongoing basis and will keep the public aware of any changes or updates to our scheduling.
I encourage our entire community to stay in constant contact with your friends, family and neighbors to make sure we are all safe during this time; however, remember to do so with safety in mind.
There is still a lot that the experts do not know about this virus. However, they seem to agree that the elderly and those with underlying medical problems are at the greatest risk. It has been reported that the virus does not cause some people any problems; but those people can affect others. Even in you are not at high risk for infection, you certainly care about someone who is. We have all seen how rapidly this virus can expand. However, do not panic, just be smart and safe.
Below, we have provided links to credible sources for information on what to do and how to minimalize impact.
Thank you and may God bless. Mayor Joe McElveen
Local Sumter Updates:
If you are experiencing symptoms, Prisma Health Tuomey encourages you to do a FREE virtual test. Just enter the promo code COVID19 on their site, which is accessible by your mobile device or computer. Click here to visit their virtual site.