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9 of SC’s 13 Coronavirus Cases In Small Town. DHEC Says 2,000 Tests Now Available

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As of Friday evening, South Carolina reported 13 total coronavirus cases, according to South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC). Officials say those numbers should increase soon now that testing is more available.

At Friday’s press conference, state epidemiologist Linda Bell said that testing for COVID-19 should be more widely available now that the FDA approved some private labs to conduct official testing. DHEC’s public lab now has enough supplies to test 2,000 coronavirus samples — up to 80 to 100 a day “with the ability to double or triple that number as needed.”

SCDHEC officials have tested a total of 123 people for COVID-19, with 110 people who tested negative. Testing will no longer require the CDC approval, which previously took 24-48 hours.

Bell said that experts haven’t seen evidence of widespread transmission in the state, which is why they haven’t recommended event or school closings outside of Lancaster and Kershaw Counties.

Earlier Friday, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency and closed schools in two counties where the COVID-19 outbreak has evidence of community spread, according to a press release issued Friday. Government offices will remain open while prisons and nursing homes restrict visitors.

Schools in Kershaw and Lancaster counties — which account for 11 of the states 13 coronavirus cases — will close for the next 14 days, McMaster said in a press release. The state of emergency will be across South Carolina.

“Although we are not currently seeing widespread transmission in South Carolina, we expect to see more cases and we will continue to monitor CDC guidance and recommendations,” Bell said in the press release. “As part of this effort, we are preparing for transition from containment to mitigation.

The 13th coronavirus case reported in South Carolina was a woman from Camden who had contact with a known case.

“We now know the latest cases in Kershaw and Lancaster counties had close contact with other cases,” Bell said in the press conference.

It’s important to note that experts are largely agreeing that a majority of coronavirus cases in the U.S. right now aren’t being tested.

An academic survey from 21 infectious disease modeling researchers that published this week provided a clearer picture of the number of cases we could actually be dealing with.

Those researchers estimated that only 13 percent of cases were reported to the CDC as of Monday, March 9. So that would mean South Carolina had 54 cases by Monday and 93 cases by Thursday. 

At the press conference, Bell said she did not have any evidence of additional cases in South Carolina, when asked about testing issues.

Bell said that South Carolina is different from other states that have recommended social distancing.

“We encourage the public to maintain their daily routines of protecting against illness by practicing good hygiene, washing your hands, and covering your cough,” Bell said in a press release. “Individuals with signs of illness are asked to take seriously the recommendation to stay home from school and work and not attend public gatherings.”

Here are the 13 coronavirus cases confirmed by SCDEC since March 5:

  • A woman in her 20s from Charleston County traveled to Italy France and Italy over a week ago. She was never hospitalized and isolated herself at home. She did fly through the Charleston Airport. She only experienced mild symptoms.
  • A woman in her 80s from Kershaw County who hadn’t recently traveled abroad. She appears to be linked to several other cases. She was hospitalized in the Midlands.
  •  A woman who was “hospitalized for reasons unrelated to (coronavirus). She had direct contact with the elderly Kershaw County/ Camden woman.
  • An elderly man was temporarily admitted to a hospital, then discharged. He is also linked to the elderly Camden woman.
  • A woman from Camden with no known connection to the other cases. She was not hospitalized.
  • A Spartanburg County man with no known connection to the other cases, but traveled from Italy.
  • A Camden man who was not hospitalized and is a direct contact with another case.
  • Two people from Camden who were household contacts of a person or persons who tested positive in Camden.
  • A woman from Lancaster County who was hospitalized. She didn’t travel outside of the U.S. recently and they don’t know of any contacts with other cases. Her case is being investigated.
  • A household contact of the above Lancaster County case. This person wasn’t hospitalized.
  • A Camden man who was hospitalized. It doesn’t appear his case is connected to any others.
  • A Camden woman who had contact with a known case. She was not hospitalized.

All of those individuals were in isolation after testing positive. No deaths from the virus have been reported in South Carolina.

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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.

To access Prisma Health’s online care, click here and enter the promo code COVID19.

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.

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