COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA/WBTW) – Governor Henry McMaster implemented an executive order Saturday activating the South Carolina National Guard and giving DHEC the permission to utilize its emergency powers.

The executive order rehashes measures previously put into place by other executive orders and announcements. Governor McMaster issued an order declaring a State of Emergency March 13, which said it would be valid for 15 days.

As did prior orders, Saturday’s mandate directs the Department of Health and Environmental Control to exercise all of its emergency powers as outlined in the Emergency Health Powers Act which allows the departments to do what it deems necessary to address the coronavirus pandemic.

In the executive order McMaster states, “I further direct DHEC to restrict visitation to nursing homes and assisted living facilities, with the exception of end-of-life situations, as DHEC deems necessary and appropriate.”

In addition the governor is placing the South Carolina National Guard on State Active Duty.

In Section 1 the executive order reads, “I further order the activation of South Carolina National Guard personnel and the utilization of appropriate equipment at the discretion of the Adjutant General, and in coordination with the Director of EMD, to take necessary and prudent actions to assist the people of this State. I authorize Dual Status Command, as necessary, to allow the Adjutant General or his designee to serve as commander over both federal (Title 10) and state forces (National Guard in Title 32 and/or State Active Duty status).”

The executive order addresses many other topics that state officials have previously spoken on. It directs public schools to remain closed through the state of emergency unless otherwise mandated. The order says Superintendent Spearman advises families to plan for schools to be closed through April.

The order authorizes state-supported universities and colleges to complete the spring 2020 semester online. It also allows them to only house out-of-state or displaced students.

McMaster also directs 911 operators to ask callers if they or a household member has tested positive for COVID-19, or is exhibiting symptoms.

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