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Local leaders address Coronavirus concerns as DHEC investigates six possible SC cases

Some of the county’s top leaders and public entities are announcing precautions against the Coronavirus, a highly contagious respiratory virus that is being called a worldwide pandemic.
The Coronavirus, also called COVID-19, was first confirmed in an outbreak in Wuhan, China. It spreads from person to person through “respiratory droplets,” such as a cough or sneeze.
Symptoms of the virus include a cough, fever and shortness of breath. There is no known cure.
The first confirmed case in the United States was on January 21, 2020. Since then, there are reportedly more than 500 confirmed cases in various states, including seven possible cases in South Carolina. There are also reported cases in Charleston that have not been verified by DHEC. This information is as of press deadline on Tuesday morning.
The Colleton County School District is working with officials from S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to “carefully monitor” any outbreaks in the overall Lowcountry.
Because of the partnership that the school district has with these two entities, local school district leaders are receiving “regular updates” on the “emergence of coronavirus,” according to Sean Gruber, spokesman for the Colleton County School District.
As a precaution, leaders with the local school district are reminding all students and staff members to frequently and thoroughly wash their hands. Parents with students who are having any symptoms of respiratory illness are asked to keep their children at home.
Gruber states that the school district is also monitoring the number of reported absences in all Colleton schools, and will be notifying local health officials if a “sudden increase in student or staff absences begins to occur,” he said, in a written statement.
Additionally, the schools are using hospital-grade disinfectants that have been proven to kill the Coronavirus. These disinfectants are being used to clean all district facilities.
If a student or staff member should test positive for the virus, Gruber said the public and parents would be notified through “multiple information channels.” Should any positive case occur in Colleton County schools, the district would also cancel extracurricular activities.
According to Christian Spires, spokeswoman for Colleton Medical Center, there are no confirmed cases of the virus at Colleton Medical Center.
Out of precaution, however, the local hospital is screening its visitors.
“We are grateful that we’ve not seen impact locally of this new Coronavirus, COVID-19. Our goal is to take every precaution to keep our patients, our caregivers and our community safe by avoiding any spread of this virus should it come into our community,” CEO Jimmy Hiott said, in a press release.
To protect patients and guests, the hospital administration is limiting public entrances to the hospital to only the emergency room and the main entrance of the hospital. Greeters will be screening visitors at these two entrances, asking “basic questions to help ensure that individuals who might spread the virus get the care they need, while not exposing patients, staff and other guests,” said Spires. Visitation will also be limited to no more than two guests over the age of 12, between 9 am to 6 pm.
This new policy began on March 4.
Anyone who has a fever, who is coughing, or who has shortness of breath is being asked not to visit the hospital. “For many people, COVID-19 will present very similarly to the flu and they will recover safely at home with rest and fluids,” said Dr. Martin, Medical Director of the Emergency Department. “Those at highest risk are the elderly and immunosuppressed. The best protection right now is hand washing, covering your cough and avoiding large groups of people.”

CORONAVIRUS PREVENTION TIPS
There are essential sanitation tips that all American citizens are being urged to do.
According to the CDC, all members of the public are asked to wash your hands “often” with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, coughing, before eating, and after sneezing;
Disinfect frequently touched surfaces with household cleaning sprays;
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and then throw that tissue in the trash;
Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick;
And avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth on a regular or routine basis.

Heather Walters (1738 Posts)