Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

Staff reports | U.S. Senate Republicans have blocked a $10 billion COVID-19 response bill over a disagreement with immigration restrictions left out of the package, posing a politically uncomfortable fight for Senate Democrats. 

The measure had bipartisan support over the weekend as it sought to provide money for treatments, vaccines and testing, but a Democratic move to push the measure past a procedural checkpoint failed 52-47 Tuesday. All 50 Senate Republicans opposed the move. The votes came hours after Republican senators vowed to withhold support for the measure unless Democratic leaders agreed to vote on an amendment preventing President Joe Biden from lifting Trump-era curbs on immigration. 

At least 10 GOP votes will be needed in the 50-50 Senate for the measure to reach the 60 votes it must have for approval. Republicans could withhold that support until Democrats permit a vote on an immigration amendment. Leading Democrats sought approval for the pandemic bill ahead of a two-week recess, but Tuesday’s vote suggested that could be difficult.

The package is less than half of the $22.5 billion measure Biden initially proposed. It also lacks the $5 billion Biden wanted for pandemic response overseas after the two sides couldn’t agree on budget savings to pay for it. At least half the current bill would finance research and production of therapeutics to treat COVID-19. Money would also be used to buy vaccines and tests and to research new variants.

Latest COVID-19 data

Meanwhile, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) transitioned to weekly reporting of new COVID data last month, with Tuesday’s update being the most recent of reports including data taken from March 27-April 2.

South Carolina health officials on Tuesday reported 951 total new cases of COVID-19, with 632 confirmed, and two total new deaths, both of which were confirmed. As of April 2, 132 COVID-19-positive individuals are hospitalized, and 10 COVID-19-positive individuals are ventilated.

No positivity rate was reported by DHEC.

  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ with at least one vaccine: 66.8%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ who have completed vaccination: 57.7%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 with at least one vaccine: 19.8%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 who have completed vaccination: 16%

For more information, visit the S.C. SCDHEC COVID-19 dashboard.

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