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.
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.
Yet, state government offices will remain open as usual, McMaster said.
As of yesterday afternoon, nine of the cases were from the small town of Camden and two of the cases were from Lancaster County, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC).
The release said the following actions will go into effect, per McMaster’s executive order:
- “Visitation at state and local correctional facilities in all 46 counties shall be suspended immediately.
- DHEC shall immediately restrict visitation to nursing homes and assisted living facilities with the exception of end of life situations.
- State price gouging laws shall go into effect immediately.
- The State Emergency Management Plan shall be activated.”
As a part of the plan, SCDHEC officials will work with the state’s Superintendent of Education and local school district leadership “to provide guidance on if and when remaining school districts should decide to close schools and for what period of time,” the release said.
The number of cases
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 of 21 infectious disease modeling researchers 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.
Experts across the country are saying that the failure to provide accurate testing is crippling the United States’ ability to fight the disease — leaving colleges, schools, and major events no choice but to close before the situation escalates.
“…when you look at what’s happening across the country, with school closures, the NBA, and March Madness, all that being shut down, it’s basically because we can’t test anybody,” Dr. Ashish Jha of the Harvard Global Health Institute told PBS. “We have lost the most powerful tool we have for fighting this disease.”
SCDHEC officials have tested a total of 87 people for COVID-19, with 75 people who tested negative. As of yesterday, they were waiting for confirmation on six presumptive positive cases that were tested at SCDHEC’s public lab to be confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which can take up to 48 hours.
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 is currently 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.
Free virtual care
MUSC and Prisma are 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.
To access Prisma Health’s online care, click here and enter the promo code COVID19.