DHEC investigating 2 new possible cases of Coronavirus in South Carolina

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Posted: Mar 10, 2020 / 04:22 PM EDT Updated: Mar 10, 2020 / 10:15 PM EDT

COLUMBIA, SC (WBTW) The state Department of Health and Environmental Control is investigating two new possible cases of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Camden in Kershaw County, the agency announced today.

The new cases are household contacts who tested presumptive positive for COVID-19 and are currently hospitalized. DHEC is working with the healthcare facility and taking routine measures to prevent possible spread.

“Presumptive positive” means samples from these individuals tested positive for COVID-19 at DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory, however, these results are required to be confirmed by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It takes typically 24-48 hours for the CDC to confirm samples after they’re received. DHEC treats all presumptive positives as cases of COVID-19.

“Our coordinated response efforts continue to identify new cases,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist. “We are working with the CDC and state and local officials to limit community spread while continuing with our protocol for identifying travel-related cases in the state.”

In line with CDC guidance, the department does not recommend closing schools or canceling public events at this time. DHEC will monitor absentee rates in schools and businesses as well as reports of illness in the community to determine if or when closures may be recommended. DHEC also is providing updated recommendations to schools and day care facilities, colleges and universities, and organizers of large events. That updated information is publicly available at scdhec.gov/COVID19. DHEC continues to be in communication with state agencies and community partners.

As of this afternoon, DHEC has tested a total of 41 individuals for COVID-19, which includes seven presumptive positive cases and two confirmed cases. The remaining 32 tests are negative. DHEC will update the public as soon as the confirmatory test results from the CDC or other reference laboratories that are now testing are available, and as other new information is known.

“We understand residents will have concerns about this indication of community spread, however, I urge the public to remain calm and follow recommendations to prevent the spread of illness. Public health events like this one are not new to South Carolina,” Bell said. “We have trained, prepared, and put systems in place to ensure that we are prepared and ready to respond to this and other events.”

At this time, precautions are recommended to maintain daily routines of protecting against illness by practicing good hygiene, washing your hands, covering your cough. Individuals with signs of illness are asked to take seriously the recommendation to stay home from school and work and not attend public gatherings.

Residents who are showing symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath should call their personal doctor or healthcare provider. If an individual doesn’t have a primary care physician, MUSC Health is providing free telehealth screening to all South Carolinians. Anyone experiencing symptoms can visit MUSC.care and use the promo code COVID19 and be screened without having to leave your home.

The DHEC Care Line is available to provide general information about COVID-19 by calling 1-855-472-3432 from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. seven days a week. Because call volume has been high, callers are urged to be patient if they receive a busy signal and try their call at a later time. For general questions about COVID-19, visit the DHEC website at scdhec.gov/COVID19 or the CDC website here.

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