Frugal health officials watch our dollars
By RICK BRUNDRETT
Special to the Chronicle
State lawmakers approved $45 million for health officials' response to the corona virus.
Yet the agency has spent less than 10% of it.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control through April listed about $3.9 million spent.
Almost $5.4 million in projected expenses was also listed.
DHEC records show cleaning companies including Rainbow International in Chapin, RNR Inc. in Irmo and Servpro in Columbia.
Rainbow, RNR and Servpro had listed projected expenses of $108,000 each.
RNR is known as Duraclean.
SC Rep. Chip Huggins, R-Lexington, is its director of business development at the company’s Irmo offices.
Huggins said Duraclean hasn’t received any of the $45 million in emergency funding.
He said he doesn’t own Duraclean, a state-approved vendor, and that he played no role in its selection.
DHEC also listed at least $1.2 million for more than 30 in- or out-of-state media or marketing companies.
15 radio or TV stations in or out of South Carolina were identified.
More than 120 vendors included hotels and restaurants, TV and radio stations. marketing firms and medical supply, construction and cleaning businesses.
DHEC has not yet replied to questions about the purposes of the largest amounts of actual or projected expenses.
In a letter to Senate Finance Committee chairman Hugh Leatherman, DHEC director Rick Toomey gave this breakdown of the $45 million:
- $14.8 million in personal protective equipment (PPE) for DHEC workers to “prevent spread of infection.”
- $14.5 million in additional staffing to support disease surveillance and contact investigation, laboratory testing, and information phone lines.
- $5.2 million in staff support, including technology, lab supplies and reagents used to cause chemical reactions, travel, and facility cleaning.
- $5 million in contingency costs – about 10% for “unanticipated costs or changing assumptions based on disease spread.”
- $2.5 million in an education campaign for TV/radio airtime and printed materials.
- $1.7 million to quarantine and support indigent patients.
- $1.3 million to courier lab samples and distribute items from the Strategic National Stockpile.