Latest South Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. EDT


SC Senate OKs $45M to fight virus; gov issues sweeping order

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina senators have approved $45 million in emergency funding for state health officials to fight the new coronavirus. As senators debated Tuesday, Gov. Henry McMaster ordered all bars to close and restaurants to stop dine in service. The governor also delayed tax deadlines until June. Senators on Tuesday also debated, but delayed a decision on whether to pass a plan to keep government operating if they can't meet enough to pass a budget by July 1. State health officials will spent the extra $45 million on additional employees and overtime, protective equipment, a public education campaign and other items.


SC's public schools closed - except for students in jail

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Public classrooms throughout South Carolina have emptied out during the ongoing virus outbreak — except in the state's juvenile jail. On Tuesday, Department of Juvenile Justice spokesman Jarid Munsch said that instruction remained ongoing in classrooms operated by the agency. More than 6,700 juveniles were admitted to the program during the past calendar year. Earlier this week, Gov. Henry McMaster ordered the immediate closure of all of the state's public K-12 schools, colleges, universities and technical schools. All of them planned to offer distance learning for the next two weeks at least. Munsch says class sizes in the juvenile justice program are very small.


Kamala Harris backs Harrison's quest to unseat Graham in SC

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — In his campaign against U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, Democrat Jaime Harrison is picking up the support of a former 2020 presidential hopeful he hopes will ultimately be his congressional colleague. In a statement to The Associated Press, California Sen. Kamala Harris on Monday called Harrison an “advocate for the people” whom she’s officially backing. Graham, a popular Republican, is seeking his fourth term representing South Carolina in the U.S. Senate. Harrison is an associate chairman with the Democratic National Committee and former chair of South Carolina's Democratic Party. He's also backed by U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and another former 2020 hopeful, Sen. Cory Booker.


Judge approves $520M settlement in Santee Cooper lawsuit

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina judge gave preliminary approval to a $520 million settlement that would provide refunds to customers of a state-owned utility who were charged increased rates for a failed nuclear construction project. Judge Jean Toal gave an initial approval to the Santee Cooper settlement Tuesday, a big first step to ending a long-standing dispute between the utility and its customers, which include 2 million people who get power from electric cooperatives. The settlement is part of a class-action lawsuit against the utility after it racked up $4 billion in debt before pulling out of its minority stake in the doomed reactor project.


South Carolina guardians charged in 1-year-old's abuse death

WALHALLA, S.C. (AP) — Authorities in South Carolina have filed new charges against a man and a woman accused of involvement in the death of a 1-year-old boy in their care. The Oconee County Sheriff's Office said Monday that 30-year-old Ronnie Glenn Christen and 22-year-old Molly Morgan Spivey were charged with homicide by child abuse following a monthslong investigation. News outlets report the two were initially charged with unlawful child neglect in October after Rhyder Peay went into cardiac arrest and died from blunt force trauma. The coroner's office said it determined the child suffered multiple injuries to his head and body. The two could face up to life in prison if convicted.


South Carolina unemployment stays at 2.4% in January

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — State officials say that South Carolina’s unemployment rate was unchanged over the month of January, as state employment reached a new record high. The Department of Employment and Workforce said Monday that unemployment in South Carolina remained at 2.4%, the same as a revised figure for December. The number of working South Carolinians grew by more than 4,000 from December and was up more than 43,000 compared to January 2019. Sectors with the most over-the-month gains were education and health services and professional and business services, which added a combined 2,800 jobs.