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SC Governor says no cause for alarm over presumed coronavirus cases

The cases were first made public Friday night, and involved two women in South Carolina.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said while the state has two presumed positive cases of coronavirus the threat to the public remains low.

McMaster spoke Saturday morning at the state's operations center alongside state health leaders.

The two cases are not linked. One of them is in Kershaw County, while the other is in Charleston County. 

"There is no reason for alarm," McMaster said Saturday. "We ask people to go about their daily lives, and to follow the ways to protect themselves from it." 

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Those ways include covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands frequently, and staying home when sick. 

"This is precisely what we have been planning for," McMaster said. "All hands are on deck." 

"There is no evidence of ongoing spread to the community, said Dr. Linda Bell, the State Epidemiologist.

Preliminary Information on the patients:

  • One patient is a woman in her 80s from Kershaw County who has been hospitalized and is in isolation. She was initially treated in Kershaw County, but was taken to another hospital in the Midlands, later confirmed to be Prisma Health Richland. Dr. Bell said the woman had a prolonged illness, and an investigation is ongoing into how she got the illness that includes finding who she may have come in contact with. When other tests couldn't determine what her illness was, doctors began considering COVID-19, and that's when the kit confirmed likely coronavirus.
  • The second patient is a woman in her 30s from Charleston County who recently traveled to France and Italy and returned home on a flight. The patient did not require hospitalization and is self-isolated at home. The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) confirmed she is an employee of theirs. They say she self-identified that she may have been expose while overseas and "practiced excellent public health and social responsibility by pursuing testing, taking appropriate hygienic precautions and self-quarantining at home." Bell said the illness began on February 28, she sought care on March 2, and it was reported to the health department on March 5. On March 6, the test kit indicated coronavirus. She is doing "quite well" and has had mild symptoms for the last day or so.

The cases tested positive at DHEC's lab. Those results then had to be sent to to the Centers for of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) laboratory for final confirmation. 

RELATED: Midlands Coronavirus Task Force meets in Columbia to discuss prevention

RELATED: Richland County prepares response to potential coronavirus threat

It typically takes 24 to 48 hours after the specimens are received for the CDS to confirm. At this time, DHEC has tested a total of 10 individuals for COVID-19, including the two presumptive positives. The remaining tests are negative. DHEC has the ability to test 80 to 100 patients per day.

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What is the Coronavirus? 

Conaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases such as pneumonia. DHEC is working with CDC to identify all those who might have been in contact with these individuals. These people will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms.

“No additional precautions are recommended for the public at this time, beyond the simple daily precautions that everyone should always take steps to stop the spread of illness, including getting the flu vaccine, washing your hands, covering your cough, and appropriately disposing tissues and other items contaminated with respiratory droplets,” said Dr. Bell.

“We have developed strong relationships with health providers through the years,” said Dr. Bell. “Together, we have planned, prepared, and tested our ability to respond to public health events like this.”

For general questions about COVID-19 residents should visit the DHEC website at scdhec.gov/COVID19 or the CDC website here.

For residents concerned about their own personal health or are showing symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, please call your personal doctor or healthcare provider. DHEC has launched its Care Line. If residents have general questions about COVID-19, the DHEC Care Line is here to help. Call 1-855-472-3432. Staff are answering calls from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. 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.

MUSC Launches Telecare Line

The MUSC is offering a free telecare service for people who believe they have coronavirus symptoms. People can go to the website MUSC.care and get information from a healthcare professional.

When uses get to the payment option, they should used the following promo code: covid19.

Video from Saturday's Coronavirus News Conference

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