The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is investigating nine additional cases of the coronavirus bringing the total number of cases statewide to 28.
The agency announced the additional numbers in a statement Sunday, shortly after Gov. Henry McMaster announced he was closing schools, colleges, and universities across the state until March 31.
Two of the new cases from Horry County are identified as elderly individuals who had known exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19 from another state. Those residents are currently isolated at home.
The third case in Horry County is also an elderly individual, DHEC said.
An investigation is still underway to determine how the third person was exposed to the virus.
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, the agency said.
“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.
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.
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.
“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 illnesses are advised not to go to emergency departments.
“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.”