DHEC discusses coronavirus with the Senate Medical Affairs Committee Thursday morning

South Carolina News

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – State health officials held a briefing with the South Carolina Senate Medical Affairs Committee on the COVID-19 strain of the coronavirus on Thursday.

The director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says the spread of the virus is “rapidly evolving” but there are no confirmed cases in the Palmetto State.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are more than 95,000 cases of coronavirus worldwide.

DHEC’s medial director says they have COVID-19 testing kits and can test 100 cases a day. A doctor must agree in order for you to get the test and must first rule out other causes of respiratory illness and consider whether there are other local coronavirus cases before ordering a test.

The agency’s chief epidemiologist says they are currently monitoring more than a dozen in South Carolina who traveled to infected areas.

“We have 61 travelers who were assessed did not require monitoring.13 travelers without symptoms are currently being monitored and three travelers were transferred to another jurisdiction,” said Dr. Linda Bell, Chief of Bureau of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control with DHEC.

DHEC officials say there is no treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, but vaccination is in development.

As of March 4, the CDC reports a total of 80 coronavirus cases and 9 deaths in the United States. Thirteen states are reporting cases, including North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, New York, Washington and California.

One precaution Lowcountry leaders are considering is social distancing which Shannon Scaff, who is the Director of Emergency Management for the City of Charleston, suggests people keep six feet of space between each other.

“That’s one of the ways to kind of, one of the simple ways to maintain your own safety is just to maintain a self distance or a safe distance rather from everyone,” says Scaff.

Officials say the City of Charleston is closely monitoring conditions around the area and state while working with DHEC to decide when necessary measures like social distancing need to be taken. Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg says the city is working hand in hand with DHEC.

“When incidents start occurring, we will have to follow it very closely and make those decisions at that time,” says Tecklenburg.

Mayor Tecklenburg says the city will only recommend social distancing and taking other measures such as canceling major events if and when a Coronavirus case is identified in the Lowcountry.

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