COLUMBIA, S.C. — The City of Columbia says it will modify services until further notice to protect citizens and minimize opportunities to spread COVID-19 in the community.
Taking into consideration the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations on social distancing and measures taken across the nation to include travel bans, school closures, quarantines and event cancellations, the City will take the following precautionary measures
Effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020:
- Non-essential city employees will report on staggered schedules or telecommute to minimize person-to-person contact.
- Access to public buildings will be restricted.
- Payment Centers will be closed until further notice and payments will be accepted over the phone, online, by mail and drop box at Washington Square, 1136 Washington Street.
- Business License renewals can be mailed in. Staff will then create a bill to be mailed to the owner. The deadline for business license renewals will be extended.
- Permits, licensing and payment assistance will be handled online or by phone. Payments for parking related fees can be made on-line.
- Water/Sewer service terminations for non-payment will be suspended until further notice.
- Requests for water to be restored, payment arrangement and delinquency procedures will be modified. Please call 803-545-3300 or go to City of Columbia website for more information.
- Effective immediately, City parks and community centers will be closed until further notice, including all playground equipment, tennis courts, picnic shelters and restroom facilities. Senior trips/activities will also be postponed to create social distance, thereby protecting senior citizens who are most at risk.
- All City permitted events are encouraged to be postponed or canceled until further notice, in accordance with CDC guidance for large events and mass gatherings. Five Points St. Patrick’s Day and Soda City Market are postponed.
- City Council and other public meetings will be hosted via internet and can be accessed at City of Columbia’s website.
Essential Services and Personnel to Continue Operations with Caution
Columbia Police Department:
- All School Resource Officers, Municipal Court Officers, will be reassigned to assist daily Police Operations.
- All emergency calls will be handled following normal operational protocols.
- Police HQ lobby will be closed to the public. Citizens will be redirected or screened by staff via intercom and telephone at the main entrance.
- Police Region offices will be closed to the public. Region staff will triage citizen walk ups and address appropriately on case by case basis.
- Police response will be limited to emergency/in-progress calls.
- Non-emergency calls will be handled by phone.
- Non-emergency police reports will be completed over the phone or online.
- Property checks will be expanded to include any closed businesses or businesses with modified hours of operation. Business owners should contact the PD at 803-545-3500 if they would like to be added to the property check list.
- The Citizens Police Academy and ride-alongs will be postponed.
- Fire response will be limited only to medical calls of an acute nature (heart attacks, not breathing).
- Firefighters will wear additional personal protective gear during medical response calls.
- Public access to fire stations is restricted for non-emergency matters and visitors will be limited to the truck bays whenever possible.
- Requested Fire reports will be emailed as requested.
- Public demos and public safety educational events are postponed.
- All reading programs at schools have been cancelled until further notice.
- The “Fill the Boot Campaign” for the MDA will be postponed.
- Calls will be dispatched as usual but screened to identify calls for service to citizens potentially exposed to COVID-19.
- Public access is restricted to 911-Emergency Communications Center for non-emergency matters.
- A coordinated response protocol has been established for COVID-19 patients with EMS and hospitals.
- Everbridge (Reverse 911) will be implemented.
- Court sessions will be canceled, effective March 17, 2020, and all sessions will be rescheduled. All parties will be notified in writing.
- Bond hearings will be held once a day as normal at the detention center. Preliminary hearings will also be held as scheduled.
- Payment of fines can be done by mail or the online state system.
Customers can be assured that our water is safe to drink. Our standard disinfection and treatment practices are very effective for inactivation and removal of viruses, including COVID-19.
Business continuity plans have been implemented to ensure the supply of clean, safe drinking water and environmental protection through effective management of our wastewater.
- All Water and Wastewater Operations will continue.
- In person water and sewer tap sales are suspended. All tap sales should be handled by calling the Department of Engineering at (803) 545-3400.
- Leak repair, restoration and sewer call response will continue, but on a prioritized basis. There may be a delayed response for minor issues.
- Limit employee-to-employee contact and employee-to-public contact.
- Solid Waste service will run on normal schedules at this time.
- The following essential functions will continue, with any necessary additional safety protocols for staff and adjustments to shifts as needed: Performance of maintenance, landscaping, tree trimming/pruning; Emergency animal control services; Signal and street light maintenance; Response to storm water issues. Public access to Public Works is restricted.
- Employee-to-employee contact and employee-to-public contact will be limited in accordance with appropriate CDC guidelines regarding social distancing.
Parks and Recreation:
- Effective immediately, afterschool programs at all City of Columbia Parks are being suspended until further notice.
- Parks and Recreation Administration office will close to the public.
- All reservations/permits will be postponed or cancelled until further notice.
The Customer Care call center will continue with normal call center operations Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with reduced staffing and response available on a 24-hour basis at 803-545-3300 for citizens to report concerns and maintenance needs. We are asking citizens for their patience because there may be longer call wait times and delays. Citizens may also use the app My Columbia SC to report a concern. The City of Columbia website and social media accounts will be updated regularly. Payments will be accepted online at https://www.columbiasc.net/payment-center/online and through the mail to P.O. Box 147; Columbia, SC 29217. Also, customers can drop off payments at the drop box at Washington Square, 1136 Washington Street, Columbia, SC 29201.
Citizens can use the following portals for Solid Waste information: Facebook page at City of Columbia, SC Public Works and Solid Waste App at MyColumbiaSC.
“We do not underestimate the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic. As a direct result, we are extremely concerned and conscious of the impact these circumstances may have on our citizens, customers and business owners,” said City Manager Teresa Wilson. “We have thoughtfully considered every public service, business function or process, and of course, public safety protocol with the utmost analysis as to how any changes will affect our community. The precautionary measures as have been outlined are meant to strike a necessary balance to ensure the safety of all and to continue the essential functions of this municipality. We are committed to fulfilling our responsibilities to the citizens of Columbia for whom we deeply care and take honor in serving.”
For the latest updates, please visit check out the city's website at www.columbiasc.gov and follow them on their social media platforms: Facebook (CityofColumbia), Instagram (wearecolumbia), Twitter (CityofColumbia) and YouTube (ColumbiaSCGovernment).
What is the Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases such as pneumonia. DHEC is working with CDC to identify all those who might have been in contact with these individuals. These people will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms.
People can help to prevent the spread of the virus in the following ways:
- wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. And, always wash your hands with soap and water if they are visibly dirty.
- avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- stay home when you’re sick.
- cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue and put it in the trash immediately.
- clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- get the influenza vaccine.
For residents concerned about their own personal health or are showing symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, please call your personal doctor or healthcare provider. DHEC has launched its Care Line. If residents have general questions about COVID-19, the DHEC Care Line is here to help. Call 1-855-472-3432. Staff are answering calls from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call volume has been high. Callers are urged to be patient if they receive a busy signal and try their call at a later time.