DHEC Announces Seventh Possible Case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus in South Carolina

Staff Report From South Carolina CEO

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is investigating a seventh possible case of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, the agency announced today.

New preliminary information

A Camden man tested presumptive positive for COVID-19 late yesterday, March 8. He was evaluated at a healthcare facility, was not hospitalized and is currently isolated at home. He is a direct contact, meaning he had close face-to-face exposure, with a previously announced presumptive positive case.

“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 24-48 hours for the CDC to confirm samples after they’re received.

“We now have evidence of community spread that’s likely to be causing these initial cases in Camden in Kershaw County and the risk of spread to other communities is possible, as seen in other states across the country,” 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 31 individuals for COVID-19, which includes the seven presumptive positives. The remaining tests are negative. DHEC will update the public as soon as the confirmatory test results from the CDC are available, and as other new information is known.

“We understand residents will have concerns about this new 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. “As a state, we have responded to Zika, the H1N1 influenza pandemic, SARS, and others – including seasonal flu outbreaks, and our medical consultants conduct more than 700 disease investigations each year for a variety of illnesses. 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 should 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.