An International Paper employee at the Eastover mill in Richland County, South Carolina has tested positive for coronavirus (known officially as 2019-nCoV or COVID-19), according to an email issued to company employees yesterday.
The email from mill manager Hai Ninh said the company has been in close contact with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.
Ninh said the employee is “doing well and awaiting the self-isolation period to return to work.” Management is asking employees who were in close contact with the individual (not named in the email) to self-isolate for the next eight days, or when they are cleared by a doctor.
SCDHEC officials told International Paper management that COVID-19 patients no longer have to self-isolate when both of the following conditions are met:
- it’s been seven days since symptoms began and
- it’s been at least three days since the person had a fever (without the help of medication).
The International Paper employee met both of those conditions as of Sunday, the email said. However, management decided to have the employee self-isolate for a total of 14 days.
The company appears to be continuing operations with caution.
“Never forget that each one of us is empowered to stop a job if we believe it could potentially be unsafe,” Ninh said in the email to employees. “Our focus areas remain the same: run safe, within environmental compliance, and reliable. Your actions make a difference and your focus will help us achieve success together.”
The Eastover mill, located about 45 minutes from Columbia, South Carolina, employs 624 people and manufactures envelopes, copy paper, and other paper items, according to its website.
According to those models, total cases could eclipse 1,700 by the end of the month – with cases continuing to crop up for two months thereafter.
As of Monday afternoon, there were 332,935 confirmed coronavirus cases in 189 countries and territories worldwide – including 14,510 fatalities – according to the latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO). Meanwhile, there were 33,018. confirmed cases in the United States – including 468 fatalities according to a database maintained by The New York Times.
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