2021 is here! On the heels of an extremely challenging year, 2021 is a welcomed beginning. In spite of a worldwide pandemic, LCOG has persevered to deliver undisrupted services of important projects and programs in the region. We hope that you conquer all of your goals and resolutions this new year. Every year, it is our goal to better serve Lowcountry citizens through client programs and services to local governments.

In this newsletter, you will learn of new CDBG awards in the Lowcountry, state-wide workshops for job seekers and employers, Medicare Advantage news, and the latest COVID-19 information in the region. You will also learn of an opportunity where your feedback can help improve our region.

Please enjoy!
Special Projects and Community Improvements are Underway in the Lowcountry

The South Carolina Department of Commerce announced 4 communities across the Lowcountry will receive grants for community improvement and special projects.The Lowcountry will receive $1.2M in funds from the Fall Round of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding. CDBG assists communities in providing housing, a suitable living environment, and expanded economic opportunities.

The communities in the Lowcountry that were awarded in the 2020 Fall Round:
  • Town of Port Royal - Paris Avenue Streetscape Improvements
  • City of Beaufort - Spanish Moss Trail Extension
  • Beaufort County - Detour Road Sidewalk Extension
  • Hampton County - Ambulance Purchase

Hats off to all the municipalities and LCOG Community and Economic Development Department that helped secure these awards for our region!

"Strengthening People, Strengthening Communities"
SC Works Hosts Workshops for Job Seekers and Employers
All month long, SC Works will host FREE virtual workshops for job seekers and employers. Do not miss the opportunity to gain some helpful employment tips! Job seekers should tune in every Tuesday and Wednesday. Employer workshops are held every Tuesday and Thursday. Topics include resume building, marketing, on-the-job training, and more.

Please click the links below to see the full SC Works workshop schedules. For more information, please contact Charles J. Myers, Business Consultant, at 843-473 6314.

We Need Your Feedback
Public Comments Wanted!

The Lowcountry Council of Governments is seeking public comments on the final draft of the 2020 Hazard Mitigation Plan Update for Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton, and Jasper counties. The plan is an update of the 2015 plan and combines the four counties into one streamlined document. The plan profiles the natural hazards including historic location and past occurrence data along with identifying the mitigation actions to save lives and to prevent major property damage and other losses caused by natural disasters in the Lowcountry region. The plan represents the jurisdiction's commitment to reduce the risks from natural hazards as well as serve as a guide for decision makers as they commit resources to reducing the effects of natural hazards. The report can be viewed on the LCOG website. Copies are also available upon request. 

Written comments on the draft report will be accepted until close of business on January 8th, 2021. Please send your comments to Maleena Parkey via EMAIL or MAIL at PO Box 98, Yemassee, SC 29945. For additional information regarding the Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan, please call 843-473-3987.
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP)
January 1, 2021- March 31, 2021

The Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) program gives you another way to get your Medicare Part A and Part B coverage. Private insurance companies approved by Medicare offer Medicare Advantage plans. The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment period lasts from January 1 to March 31.

What can I do?
If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without drug coverage), you can switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan. You can drop your Medicare Advantage Plan and return to original Medicare. You will be allowed to join a Medicare Drug Plan.

What can't I do?
You cannot switch from original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan. Also, you cannot join a Medicare drug plan if you have original Medicare. Switching from one drug plan to another if you have original Medicare is not permitted as well.

Coverage begins on the 1st of the following month after enrollment. For your Medicare questions, contact Dieesha Hicks, I-Care Specialist, at 843-473-3991.
The COVID-19 Vaccine is Here But Are We Safe Yet?

It has been nearly 10 months since the first case of Coronavirus was detected in the Lowcountry region. The long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine is here but we are not out of the woods yet. Due to limited initial supply, the first batch of the Pfizer vaccine is being given to workers in high priority, patient-facing areas.

SCDHEC continues to work with federal and local partners to execute South Carolinaโ€™s vaccine plan. Over the next several months, vaccine distribution will continue to increase across the state. Rollout of the vaccine has been slower than expected across the United States. SCDHEC has reported that 31% of the South Carolina's allotted vaccines have been distributed, compared to the national average of 19%.

As of January 1, 2021, a total of 13,806 cases have been reported in the Lowcountry, resulting in 216 deaths. A total of 194,044 people in the Lowcountry region have been tested for COVID-19, and of that number, 14.2% have tested positive. Check our website weekly to stay informed of the local COVID-19 statistics. Please continue social distancing and wearing masks to slow the spread.

If you have any questions regarding the weekly Lowcountry COVID-19 Report, contact Maleena Parkey, PhD at 843-473-3990.
If you have questions concerning any of the information contained in the newsletter, please feel free to contact Kira Fuller at 843.473.3956 or by email at rfuller@lowcountrycog.org.