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DHEC investigating nine new cases of COVID-19 in SC

The majority of illnesses seem appear to be mild according to the agency.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) says it is investigating nine additional cases of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. This brings the total number of cases statewide to 28.

The announcement came Sunday as South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster order the closure of all public schools in the state through March 30.

RELATED: Governor closes South Carolina public schools, discourages gatherings of 100+ amid coronavirus concerns

DHEC says as the state’s case counts expectedly increase, DHEC will publicly report information about facilities and locations that impacted communities should be aware of where special precautions may be needed.

“We emphasize the importance of practicing disease prevention measures and following recommendations for social distancing to protect our community as a whole,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist.

RELATED: 'Social distancing' and 'flattening the curve': What does it mean?

 Preliminary information for new cases

 3 new cases reported from commercial labs

  • One new case is from Kershaw County. The case is a middle-aged daycare worker who has no identified source of exposure. This individual’s onset of illness occurred after their last day worked. The case is currently isolated at home.
  • Two new cases are from Horry County. The cases are elderly individuals who had known exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19 from another state. The cases are currently isolated at home.

 6 new cases from DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory

  • Two new cases are from Kershaw County and are household contacts to a previously reported case. One case is an elderly individual who is hospitalized in isolation. The other case is a middle-aged individual and is currently isolated at home.
  • One new case is from Horry County and is an elderly individual. Investigation is underway and further details are not currently available.
  • Two cases are from Anderson County and are middle-aged individuals who have no identified source of exposure. Both cases are currently hospitalized in isolation.
  • One case is from Greenville County and is a young adult who recently traveled to Spain. The case is currently isolated at home.

Impacted facilities

One of the additional Kershaw County cases was a childcare worker of Bethesda Daycare. The individual was not ill while working and there are no known contacts at the childcare facility at this time. The source of this case’s exposure is being investigated. DHEC is working with the center to provide guidance about infection control measures to prevent spread. However, the center was following the governor’s closure of schools in Kershaw and Lancaster counties and is not currently open. 

RELATED: Call center closed for deep cleaning after employee tests positive for COVID-19

“On Friday, March 13 the childcare center voluntarily closed as a precaution after the governor issued school closures for Kershaw and Lancaster counties. We are working closely with this childcare facility to immediately investigate possible exposures at this facility,” said Dr. Bell. “The facility is completely cooperative and staff are abiding by DHEC’s and CDC’s recommended actions for helping to protect this population.”

People with symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath should call their healthcare provider. If an individual doesn’t have a primary care physician, several healthcare systems are providing telehealth services  so residents may be evaluated by a healthcare provider without having to leave their homes. If it’s determined an individual should be tested, they will be instructed where to go to be tested. Individuals with minor illness are advised not to go to emergency departments.

RELATED: Here are the common symptoms of coronavirus

“While we anticipate the number of cases in the U.S. and here at home to grow, the majority of people will likely not develop serious illness,” Bell said. “When you hear about the first cases, or growing cases, in your community, we encourage the public to maintain their daily routines with a focus on good hygiene, including routinely washing your hands and covering your mouth when you 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.”

RELATED: Free MUSC telecare line set up after presumed coronavirus cases

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