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South Carolina Coronavirus Update: What We Know About The 2 ‘Presumptive Positive’ Cases

Gov. McMaster said there is “no reason for alarm.”

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While health officials haven’t confirmed the two “presumptive positive” coronavirus cases in South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster said Saturday that the risk for the public remains low and there is “no reason for alarm” in the Palmetto State.

In a Saturday press conference, South Carolina officials revealed more details about the two possible coronavirus (also known as (COVID-19) cases in Kershaw and Charleston counties. Those cases have not yet been confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) announced late Friday afternoon that it was investigating two possible cases the two “presumptive positive”that are not linked.

One case — affecting a woman in her 80s — was located in Kershaw County. That patient has been hospitalized and is in isolation. She was moved to a hospital in the Midlands to receive further treatment, State epidemiologist Linda Bell said Saturday.

Bell said they are confident in the the isolation measures taken where the Kershaw County woman has been. At those two hospitals, DHEC officials are monitoring all of the people who could have possibly been exposed, Bell said.

Bell said the Kershaw County woman hadn’t recently traveled and health officials are working to identify how she was exposed to coronavirus. Officials are investigating to see if she came in contact with someone who has traveled recently.

The other case – affecting a woman in her 20s who recently traveled to France and Italy —is located in Charleston County. This patient “did not require hospitalization and is self-isolated at home,” according to SCDHEC. The woman is a staff member at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), but did not return to work after she traveled, MUSC officials said. She is only experiencing mild symptoms.

The Charleston County woman traveled from Europe more than a week ago and did arrive at the Charleston Airport, MUSC officials said Saturday.

The samples are currently in the process of being submitted for confirmatory testing, and SCDHEC said it will update the public as soon as the test results from the CDC are available, “which typically takes 24 to 48 hours after the specimens are received,” according to the agency’s release on Friday. Bell said Friday they are confident in DHEC’s testing accuracy.

McMaster said there is “no reason for alarm” and encouraged South Carolinians to “go about (their) daily lives knowing there is a new virus out there.”

“We understand that residents have concerns about how the virus may impact South Carolinians,” Bell on Friday. “While the risk to the public remains low, there is no evidence of ongoing transmission in the community at this time and our primary goals remain prevention and control.”

Worldwide, COVID-19 has infected 101,923 people in 94 countries, according to the latest statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO). It has killed 3,486 people with 197 of those deaths in Italy.

Florida officials confirmed two people have died from coronavirus – marking the first deaths outside of Washington State and California. In total, the disease has killed 19 people across the U.S.

South Carolina’s border states Georgia and North Carolina have both seen increasing cases of COVID-19 this week. Georgia has seen a total of five confirmed coronavirus cases, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported, and North Carolina has confirmed two cases.

In response to the spread of the virus, U.S. president Donald Trump signed legislation on Friday authorizing $8.3 billion in emergency spending.

Free virtual care

MUSC is offering free virtual care for all South Carolinians experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

Visit MUSC.care and use the promo code COVID19 for instructions on how to access a medical professional through your phone or computer without having to go to the doctor’s office.

SCDHEC urged South Carolinians with general questions about coronavirus to visit scdhec.gov/COVID19 or the CDC website here. The agency has also established a coronavirus call line at 1-855-472-3432.

Residents concerned about their own personal health — or who are showing symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath — are being urged to call their personal doctor or health care provider.

Wash your hands

On Saturday, South Carolina officials urged the importance of taking preventative measures to avoid coronavirus — which is spread by human contact.

As a nurse said in a viral social media post, one of the best things you can do right now is “calm down and wash your hands.”

“Thorough hand washing (for at least 20 seconds at a time) helps prevent the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19,” Prisma Health experts said. If hand washing isn’t possible, use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol content.

Other preventative actions according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC):

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with
unwashed hands.

Experts don’t recommend buying masks as they need as many as possible for health and hospital employees.

The virus is spread “mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes,” according to the CDC. Symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Though there is no vaccination or treatment for coronavirus, data from China shows that 81 percent of the cases were mild and didn’t require hospitalization.

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