Scott Morgan

Producer, Reporter

Scott Morgan is the Upstate multimedia journalist for South Carolina Public Radio, based in Rock Hill. He cut his teeth as a newspaper reporter and editor in New Jersey before finding a home in public radio in Texas. Scott joined South Carolina Public Radio in March of 2019. His work has appeared in numerous national and regional publications as well as on NPR and MSNBC. He's won numerous awards for his work including two regional and one national Edward R. Murrow. He prefers to do crossword puzzles in ink, but is frequently wrong.

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When the U.S. Treasury released its list of jurisdictions that would be getting money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, someone had to tell the Greenville County Council that the county was on it.

“Somebody said, ‘Hey, I think I saw you guys on a website,’” said Council Chairman Butch Kirven. “We looked and printed out the list, and sure enough, there we were.”

Along with the listing was the amount of money the county would be receiving to help recharge its COVID-choked small business economy – $91.4 million.

Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio

The Medical University of South Carolina’s hospitals in Lancaster and Chester are mostly back to being fully staffed. A little more than a month ago, around 75 of MUSC Health’s 900 layoffs happened at these two Upstate locations, but Scott Broome, the CEO for the Lancaster and Chester locations, said he expects a fully returned staff by July 1.

It’s a far cry from where the hospitals were just weeks ago.

Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio

Earlier this month, the South Carolina Forestry Commission estimated the that tornadoes that hit the state on April 13 destroyed close to 4,300 acres of trees. In dollars, that adds up to about $4 million in losses to South Carolina’s timber industry.

While that’s less than 1 percent of the state’s timber economy overall, it’s not an evenly distributed sum. Smaller landowners, with 20 to 40 acres and who lost a few acres of trees on April 13,  could face some significant losses, says Patrick Hiesl, assistant professor of forestry operations at Clemson University.

3D Systems

3D Systems, an international 3-D printing equipment company with a plastics manufacturing plant in Rock Hill, is a major reason why 3-D printing is a thing in the first place. That put the company in a pretty good spot to be an early responder to the call for personal protective equipment (PPE) and small specialty parts for hospital machines like ventilators.

But with those “early brushfires” mostly under control, the company’s vice president and general manager of plastics, Menno Ellis, says 3D Systems is now focusing on the next most-needed thing in the fight to rein in COVID-19: diagnostic equipment.

Rev. J.T. Barber / YouTube image

The inequities of COVID-19 are complicated, but one trend stands out above all others – African-Americans in South Carolina are affected by – and dying from – the disease at much higher rates than Caucasians.

So what does that have to do with church? 

Well, the relationship between African-Americans and most public institutions is also complicated.

Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio

The gutting of newsroom staffs, the rise of social media, the absence of solid answers during a pandemic ... All things that have made for an information environment that can be questionable at best, dangerous at worst.

So how does a media consumer become a savvy media consumer; one who can spot real information and solid journalism on news sites and equally spot bogus news, personal opinions, and general quackery on social media sites or even actual news outlets?

Laekwon Oliver / Unsplash

The coronavirus quarantine’s effect on rents in South Carolina and bordering metros has largely been one of flattening out, according to data released Thursday by ApartmentList.

ApartmentList’s April market report shows that over 13 sampled areas in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia, average rent prices since March have moved little more than a half-percent at most in either direction, a trend mirrored in statewide rent prices over the three states.

Volunteers at Golden Corner Food Pantry in Oconee County prepare bundles of food for drive-through clients. It's one of the many adjustments the pantry, and others in the Upstate and Pee Dee, have had to make because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Scott Morgan/SC Public Radio

Food pantries in the Upstate and Pee Dee have had to adjust to the coronavirus pandemic on the fly, like everyone else. They’ve seen need for food increase with spikes in South Carolinians out of work, as much as they seem increased demands on their time, energy, resources, and budgets.

But they’re also learning a lot about themselves, about the people who visit, and about the ones who help them with their missions. Here are three pantries and what they’re facing in the pandemic.

David Martin / Unsplash

Update: The South Carolina Supreme Court announced it would extend the state eviction moratorium after this story published. It will extend the stay on evictions and foreclosures for another two weeks.

South Carolina’s state moratorium on evictions for unpaid rent is set to expire on Friday. While the federal moratorium continues until at least Aug.24, the expiration of the statewide stay on evictions could translate into thousands of lawsuits, says Adam Protheroe, a housing attorney at SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center in Columbia.

CDC

The exact numbers keep changing, but the percentages have remained relatively steady. And they show that African-Americans are South Carolina’s most disproportionately affected group when it comes to COVID-19 cases and deaths.

But they also show that men and women overall are disproportionally affected (though less so than African-Americans), in two different ways.

Sven Scheuermeier / Unsplash

Word that a Smithfield pork processing plant in South Dakota, where 5 percent of the nation's pork is processed, sent ripples across the U.S. food industry. It didn't help that just a few days later, another Smithfield plant – this one much closer to home, in Tar Heel, North Carolina – shuttered after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

The closures prompted a far-reaching question: How secure is the food supply? 

provided by Steffi Kong

Steffi Kong grew up in Singapore. At the onset of the century, the country was in the path of the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, a coronavirus similar to COVID-19. Kong contracted SARS, and beat it, but "because of that, my immune system was very compromised," she says.

Three years later, she caught H1N1, which was the swine flu that proved much deadlier and much more far-reaching. 

So to say that Kong was looking forward to seeing her family and walking in Converse College's commencement ceremony next month is an undestatement. But now that the Spartanburg-based college has shifted graduation to a virtual ceremony, Kong and her classmates -- the second-to-last class to ever graduate from an all-female Converse College -- will have to attend online in May.

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News from hospitals in much of the United States right now is bad. In major cities like Detroit, in population-dense states like New Jersey, medical staffs are sometimes unable to keep up with the crush of new COVID-19 cases.

Emergencies are gobbling up hospital beds; doctors nurses, and assistants are risking their lives just by going to work; and supplies of personal protective equipment, or PPE, are in some places so bereft, ICU healthcare workers have taken to wearing trash bags and goggles because it was the best they could do.

To date, that kind of thing isn’t consuming South Carolina’s medical facilities. But Dr. Alicia Ribar, interim associate dean of academics, assistant dean for graduate studies, and clinical associate professor at the University of South Carolina College of Nursing, says the college’s working students are worried about when it will be.

Allie Smith / Unsplash

This story was expanded on March 26 to include a look at what the data cited in the Kaiser Family Foundation report could mean for South Carolina's rural communities.

Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio

Rock Hill has two services the city's homeless population uses on a daily basis to get something to eat. One is the MyRide bus system, a free, citywide service for all; the other is the Dorothy Day Soup Kitchen,

MyRide drops off across the street from the soup kitchen Monday through Saturday at around 11:30 a.m. There, a usually packed No. 2 route bus mostly empties and riders make their way to a hot lunch at one of the soup kitchen's tables, amid plenty of chatty company.

On Monday, lunch was not hot, not chatty, and not served on a plate taken to a table. It was a ham and cheese sandwich, a ham buscuit, some snacks, and a diet Mountain Dew, placed inside a plastic shopping bag and given at the door. Guests took their lunches, thanking the women who give them, and strolling away to various places on a chilly, cloudy morning.

It is a meal most certainly made on the fly, in reaction to a stunning and sudden outbreak of a pandemic

that demands people all over the United States keep their distance from each other. Jan Stephenson, the director of Dorothy Day Soup Kitchen, says the sandwich-and-biscuit lunch is not ideal, but it is what could be done today.

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