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SC Commission for Minority Affairs’ Hispanic/Latino Affairs Division Launches COVID-19 Action Plan for Agricultural Workers and Latinos Living in Rural SC

The SC Commission for Minority Affairs’ Hispanic/Latino Affairs Division has launched the COVID-19 Action Plan for Agricultural Workers and Latinos Living in Rural SC. This action plan calls for collaborative efforts among state agencies, organizations, services providers, and community leaders/brokers to ensure COVID-19 information, materials, testing and vaccinations effectively reach this segment of the population.

The SC Department of Employment and Workforce’s Agricultural Outreach Plan projects the agricultural workforce need for South Carolina at approximately 12,750 workers. This total includes approximately 6,300 migrant and seasonal farm workers and 6,270 H–2A visa holders. The peak season is from April to September.

The fastest growing segment of many rural communities in South Carolina is the Hispanic population. According to the US Census data, the estimated number of Latinos living in rural areas is 23,395.  There are 16 SC Counties that meet the three definitions used by the Federal Government to define Rural: Hampton, Colleton, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Orangeburg, Clarendon, Williamsburg, Marion, Dillon, Marlboro, Chesterfield, Lee, McCormick, Abbeville, Newberry, Cherokee, and Oconee.

The COVID-19 pandemic has unveiled and intensified severe and pervasive health inequities among minority communities. Agricultural workers and individuals living in rural areas face challenges and barriers in accessing health and social services. Issues of trust and immigration-related fears add stress to the already complex interactions in a health care system that is not prepared to effectively meet the language, cultural, or navigation barriers experienced by this population.

  • Addressing the needs of agricultural workers and Latinos living in South Carolina during this pandemic is both a moral imperative and pragmatic strategy. Our action plan includes activities designed to ensure information, testing and vaccines reach this segment of the population despite foreseen barriers and difficulties. Our action plan is constantly adapting and includes the following activities:
  • Strengthen the working relationship with the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, SC Department of Employment and Workforce, South Carolina Department of Education Migrant Education Program, SC Department of Agriculture and other state agencies entrusted with providing information and resources to agricultural workers and Latinos living in rural areas. 
  • Assisting state agencies and service providers to develop culturally and linguistically appropriate materials and resources to reach out to this specific segment of our population.
  • Furthering collaborative efforts with state agencies, organizations, coalitions, Latino media and individuals assisting the agricultural worker community and Latinos in rural South Carolina to foster coordinated outreach efforts and sharing of information and resources.
  • Fostering the participation of faith-based leaders/organizations in all activities related to keeping this community informed and aware of services and opportunities to receive information, testing and/or vaccination.
  • Establishing effective communication channels for community leaders/brokers, organizations and agencies to provide feedback regarding specific needs from the community they serve and to establish additional needed items for the action plan.
  • Offering cultural sensitivity training to state agencies, service providers and organizations in working with the agricultural worker community.
  • Influencing State Government and decision makers to ensure adequate materials and vaccines are available for this segment of the population.

If you are a service provider interested in joining the COVID-19 Action Plan for Agricultural Worker and Latinos Living in Rural SC, please enter your information on our COVID-19 Statewide Workgroup for Latinx and Immigrant Communities directory. Make sure to select you are providing services to farmworkers and/or in rural areas. You can also contact Ivan Segura, Program Manager for the Hispanic/Latino Affairs Division at 803-995-8518 or isegura@cma.sc.gov. En español

South Carolina to Move to Phase 1b of COVID-19 Vaccination Plan on March 8, 2021 Public Health Officials Unveil Plans for All Vaccination Phases

(SCDHEC RELEASE) Governor Henry McMaster and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced today that South Carolina will advance to Phase 1b of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan beginning Monday, March 8.

“Throughout South Carolina’s vaccination efforts, our priority has been – and continues to be – saving lives,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “In the month of February, South Carolina made tremendous progress on expanding access to vaccinations as the supply of vaccine increased. Our hospitals, pharmacies and healthcare providers became more nimble and efficient at getting shots in arms. Because of these successes, we’re now in a position to make the majority of South Carolinians eligible to receive the vaccine.”

“South Carolina remains focused on protecting the lives and health of South Carolinians from COVID-19,” said Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC Director. “With the significant increase in vaccine supply and progress in vaccinating people in group 1a, front-line health care workers and those aged 65 and over, we are now ready to move to our next phase. Our state’s vaccine plan prioritizes those with greatest risk, while ensuring equal access to the vaccine for every South Carolinian aged 16 and over.” 

South Carolina’s phased approach to its COVID-19 vaccine rollout recognizes the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 increases with age, and people with certain medical conditions and occupations are at higher risk of exposure to the virus. Because of this, South Carolina will continue to move phase by phase, based on risk level, with the goal of vaccinating every South Carolinian who wants to receive a vaccine by this summer.

Beginning March 8, appointments to get the COVID-19 vaccine can be made by people in the following groups:

  • Anyone aged 55 and up
  • People with increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease
    • People aged 16-64 with one or more of the following high-risk medical conditions:
      • Cancer (current, not a history of cancer), chronic kidney disease (any stage), chronic lung disease, diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2), Down syndrome, heart disease (congestive heart disease, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, pulmonary hypertension), HIV/AIDS, solid organ transplant, obesity (BMI >30), pregnancy, sickle cell disease.
    • People who have a developmental or other severe high-risk disability that makes developing severe life-threatening illness or death from COVID-19 infection more likely
  • Frontline workers with increased occupational risk
    • Frontline workers with increased occupational risk are people who:
      • Must be in-person at their place of work, and
      • Perform a job that puts them at increased risk of exposure due to their frequent, close (less than 6 feet) and ongoing (more than 15 minutes) contact with others in the work environment

Examples of frontline workers include, but are not limited to, school staff and daycare workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, law enforcement officers, etc.

  • Individuals at increased risk in settings where people are living and working in close contact
  • Residents and workers in group home settings for the mentally or physically disabled or those with behavioral or substance abuse conditions
  • Workers and residents in homeless shelters
  • Workers and residents in community training homes
  • State and local correctional facility staff with direct inmate contact
  • Correctional and immigration detention facility inmates
  • Migrant farmworkers living in shared housing or reliant on shared transportation
  • All workers in healthcare and community health settings who have routine, direct patient contact and were not vaccinated in Phase 1a

“The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines, including the recent approval of the new one-shot Janssen vaccine, has given us renewed hope for a return to normalcy and a light at the end of the tunnel,” Dr. Simmer said. “At the same time, we know our fight is not yet over. Until enough of us get vaccinated, we must all continue to wear masks, stay six feet away from others, and avoid crowds, even after we have received the vaccine. In addition, being tested can help reduce the spread of the disease and identify the presence of variants as early as possible.”

Public health officials estimate it will take 70 to 80 percent of the population getting vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity and stop COVID-19.

Based on current vaccine supply levels, DHEC anticipates Phase 1c will begin on approximately April 12, 2021. The phase will include:

  • People aged 45 and up
  • Essential workers
  • This group includes those who work in essential job categories as defined by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) who are not included in Phase 1b because they do not have frequent, close contact with others in the work environment (examples may include construction workers, delivery drivers, utility workers, etc. who do not have frequent, close and ongoing contact with others).

Phase 2 will begin on approximately May 3, 2021, and will include:

  • All South Carolinians aged 16 and up

South Carolinians are urged to get vaccinated according to the state’s plan, and not to jump ahead of others.

“We’re asking South Carolinians to consider others, and the fact that this plan is risk-based to prevent severe illness and death,” Dr. Simmer said. “You’re urged to not jump the line and put your loved ones, friends or neighbors at risk by doing so.”

How to make an appointment?

Online appointments can be made by using scdhec.gov/vaxlocator or you can call DHEC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Information Line at 1-866-365-8110 for help.

How will people demonstrate eligibility?

When seeking vaccine services, people included in Phase 1b or 1c may show eligibility by showing an ID that includes their date of birth, verifying that they meet the criteria for a frontline or essential worker, or by verifying that they have an eligible high-risk medical condition.

For a copy of the plan, click here. To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines, visit scdhec.gov/vaxfacts.

SC Commission for Minority Affairs' Black History Month Virtual Celebration 

The South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs (SCCMA) celebrated Black History Month with a video spotlight series recognizing partners and community leaders.

Last year, the Commission for Minority Affairs held a black-tie optional gala celebrating the significant contributions and achievements of African Americans. Due to the pandemic, the 2021 celebration is going virtual with daily messages from leaders in education, business, community development and more. This year’s theme is “Still Standing.”

“The pandemic has disrupted our lives, forcing us to close schools, businesses and the doors to our churches,” said Dr. Delores Dacosta, Executive Director for the SC Commission for Minority Affairs. “Throughout it all, we have continued to stand tall as we face these new challenges.”

“We hope the video series will be a source of inspiration during this time of uncertainty,” Dacosta said.

Messages were posted to the agency’s Facebook and YouTube pages February 17-26, 2021. To view all of the videos, visit the agency's YouTube page.

SCCMA Launches Latinx Career and Education Survey

The South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs Hispanic Latino Affairs Division has launched a Latinx Career and Education survey to help develop a network of educators, professionals, community organizations and students across the state. Through a new initiative called PLACE (Pathways for Latinxs to Advance Career and Education, Latinx students and young professionals will have the opportunity to learn about their shared experiences and available resources in their area. PLACE provides a platform where participants can network, interchange ideas, share resources as well as develop a sense of pride and belonging as a young Latinx in South Carolina. To complete a survey, CLICK HERE

Submit Your Information to be Included in the Small & Minority Business Directory

The S.C. Commission for Minority Affairs is developing a statewide Minority Business Directory to provide information to users who are interested in doing business with minority-owned businesses. To be included in the directory, complete the Minority Business Directory Questionnaire (English) | (Spanish).

SC CARES Act Relief Grant Programs Awards Notification Process Complete (SC Department of Administration)

The South Carolina Department of Administration announced on Thursday, December 31, 2020, that 2,970 applicants for the SC Cares Act Relief Grant Programs have been notified that they will be receiving grant funds, totaling $65 million, through either the Minority and Small Business Relief Grant Program or the Nonprofit Relief Grant Program. READ MORE

SCCMA Community Civic Engagement Initiative

The South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs (“CMA”) is encouraging communities to become more civically engaged through a new Civic Engagement and Education Academy. The Commission for Minority Affairs will offer a virtual course on civic advocacy beginning August 2020. Individuals, groups and organizations are encouraged to participate in the free program. READ MORE

2020 Community Survey

The S.C. Commission for Minority Affairs is conducting an online survey to better understand the impact of COVID-19 and the recent tornadoes on communities across the state. The survey will track how communities are receiving information related to the COVID-19 pandemic; the impact of COVID-19 on individuals (employment) and small businesses, and the ability to receive financial assistance; the impact of the recent tornadoes (April 13, 2020) in South Carolina; and more. To complete the survey in English, click https://bit.ly/cmacommunitysurvey. To complete the survey in Spanish (Español), click https://bit.ly/cmasurveyspanish.

COVID-19 Statewide Working Group for Latinx & Immigrant Communities

The SC Commission for Minority Affairs, SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center, PASOs and Hispanic Alliance formed a statewide working group of individuals, organizations and businesses serving the Latinx and immigrant communities in SC. The purpose of the work group is to coordinate and share information and resources available to families responding to the COVID-19 crisis. The group created a Directory of Service Providers to facilitate the process of finding resources, sharing information and promoting networking. If you, or your organization, are assisting the Latinx/immigrant community, or if you want to start helping, please complete the form! To ensure an accurate database, please complete all information. For more information, contact Ivan Segura at isegura@cma.sc.gov or Louise Popock at LPocock@scjustice.org.  

We're Still Working for You

While our office is closed to the public, we're still committed to serving you. Our staff is working remotely and is available to assist you. To reach a member of our team, call (803) 333-9621 or email info@cma.sc.gov. STAFF DIRECTORY                    

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