Some S.C. lawmakers calling for emergency session to address pandemic as cases rise

VIDEO: Some S.C. lawmakers calling for emergency session to address pandemic as cases rise

CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Some South Carolina lawmakers are calling for an emergency legislative session as COVID-19 cases across the state continue to rise.

State Rep. Wendell Gilliard is leading the effort and said he has support from some other lawmakers across the state. He wrote a letter to Governor Henry McMaster on Tuesday.

“All signs signal a drastic increase of transmission and infection backed up by data obtained by the hard work performed by those in the science and medical fields,” Gilliard wrote. “I respectfully ask that you encourage all whom in South Carolina Constitution would require to call us back into an emergency legislative session.”

Gilliard’s goal is to have lawmakers across the state meet in Columbia to discuss issues like health care, evictions, and possible closures.

“We as leaders need to first understand one thing: We’re losing the battle,” Gilliard said. “They want to say, ‘We have a cure around the corner.’ We’re not rounding any corner. The only thing that’s coming around the corner is a funeral procession. People are dying."

In the last week, South Carolina’s Department of Health reported more than 6,400 new COVID-19 cases and almost 150 newly-confirmed deaths. It’s why Gilliard said he’s not ruling out supporting possible closures and restrictions.

“We want you around to enjoy life and enjoy a quality of life," he said. “We have to do it by any means necessary. We have to do what our scientists and doctors in our medical community are telling us.”

Sen. Sandy Senn said she does not support the almost 200 state lawmakers coming back for an emergency session and said that’s why a State of Emergency gets declared.

“If the representative truly believes that we are getting worse and not better in respect to the coronavirus, then the State of Emergency is where we need to be with one person listening to the experts and calling the shots," Senn said. "What really worries me is it sounds like he wants to shut down the economy again, and I would be absolutely opposed to that.”

The governor’s office has not yet responded to requests for comment, but Gilliard said the speaker of the House has received the letter and will be talking with the governor about it.

State lawmakers are currently not set to return to session until Jan. 2021.

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