Lowcountry businesses, schools scramble to deal with coronavirus pandemic

Lowcountry businesses, schools scramble to deal with coronavirus pandemic
South Carolina health officials have reported 33 cases of the novel coronavirus and one death as of Monday afternoon. (Source: AP)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Hospitals, schools and restaurants are making changes across the Lowcountry in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

South Carolina health officials said Monday afternoon they were investigating five additional cases of the novel coronavirus in the state.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said one new case is from Lexington County and involves an elderly person who was a close contact to a previously reported case. This patient is in isolation at a healthcare facility. On Monday afternoon, DHEC reported the state’s first coronavirus-related death. That patient, they said, was a man who contracted COVID-19 at a Lexington County nursing home died at a hospital, officials said.

The remaining four new cases are from Kershaw County. Three of the cases are middle-aged people who are known contacts to a previously reported case and are currently isolated at home. One case is an elderly person. Investigation is underway and further details were not immediately available.

Those new cases bring the total number reported in the state to 33, including the patient who died in Lexington County. Here is a breakdown of where the 32 active cases have been reported:

  • Anderson County: 2
  • Beaufort County: 3
  • Charleston County: 1
  • Greenville County: 1
  • Horry County: 3
  • Kershaw County: 18
  • Lancaster County: 2
  • Lexington County: 1
  • Spartanburg County: 1

Nationwide, there are 4,661 cases reported.

“We emphasize the importance of practicing disease prevention measures and following recommendations for social distancing to protect our community as a whole,” DHEC physician consultant Dr. Brannon Traxler said.

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said during an appearance Monday on the CBS Evening News that the novel coronavirus is two to three times more contagious than the flu.

“And so that’s why we want everybody to do everything they can,” she said.


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Lowcountry hospitals say they are open and operating, but are adding safety measures to protect patients and staff from any potential exposures.

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 a test for COVID-19 is deemed necessary, the patient will be given instructions about where to go to be tested.

People with minor illness are advised not to go to emergency departments.

Lowcountry school districts are working on continuing instruction through eLearning programs while also working to make sure children who depend on school meals are being fed.

Cities, towns and counties across the Lowcountry are updating their plans on dealing with the crisis as well.

Cruise ship passengers returned to Charleston on Monday after a four-day cruise to the Bahamas on the Carnival Sunshine. They said they had their temperatures frequently taken while on board, but not as they left the ship Monday morning.

A health department spokeswoman says the agency worked with the Centers for Disease Control and the ship’s senior doctor to ensure no one showed any symptoms of the virus.

Carnival says none of the passengers on board had flu like symptoms.

Carnival Cruise Line is one of several that agreed to stop all cruises for 30 days.

The state Senate plans to meet Tuesday to approve $45 million in emergency health funding with the House following up on Thursday.

Copyright 2020 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.