COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Prisma Health and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) are preparing for the possibility of more cases of the coronavirus, also called COVID-19, in the state.
Right now, there are nine cases of the virus in South Carolina.
Two cases have been confirmed by the CDC and the other seven cases are presumptive positive, meaning the patients did test positive, but the CDC still has to confirm that diagnosis.
One patient with a confirmed case of coronavirus is being treated at Prisma Health Richland Hospital in Columbia.
Tuesday afternoon, officials from both agencies gave an update on the latest protocols to treat those affected by the virus, and those who think they may have symptoms.
If a patient comes in to Prisma with symptoms of the virus and has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, hospital staff create a secure portal to get that patient to an isolation room.
All nurses and doctors caring for that patient must wear protective equipment and as soon as they get the patient to an isolation room, a site manager is assigned to the case. The site manager is in charge of monitoring who exits and enters the patient’s room, as well as making sure nurses and doctors are safe while treating the patient and ensuring any materials that are used to treat the patient are disposed of properly.
There’s no treatment for the virus, but patients will get supportive care if needed at the hospital. Doctors said that means they make sure the patient maintains good blood pressure and oxygen levels.
Prisma Health has not started any new visitation policies since coronavirus cases were confirmed in South Carolina. However, the same flu-season restrictions are in place -- if you’re sick or under the age of 18, the hospital asks that you not visit a patient.
Hospitals still do not have access to test kits, but they collect samples and send them to DHEC. The tests must be performed by DHEC or the CDC.
Of the nine coronavirus cases in South Carolina, seven have been identified in Camden, one case is in Charleston County and the other is in Spartanburg County, officials said. Again, only two have been confirmed by the CDC.
There is sign of community spread in Camden, DHEC says.
Officials are working to prevent that spread. DHEC requires anyone in self-isolation due to a coronavirus exposure to sign an agreement stating they will not go to school, work or attend community events for at least 14 days.
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DHEC and Prisma Health ask that everyone take this virus and their recommendations seriously.
“It’s all of our responsibilities to help prevent the spread of illness,” State Epidemiologist, Dr. Linda Bell, said. “Our key recommendations at this time are to stay home from work, school or community gatherings if you are ill, to protect others in the community. Contact your healthcare provider if you are showing symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath -- so you can be appropriately evaluated in the appropriate setting.”
Those without a doctor can take advantage of free care from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). They launched a FREE online platform to aid with coronavirus diagnosis and care. Log onto www.musc.care and access the COVID-19 platform. The service is free with code: COVID19.
Prisma Health also just launched a free virtual visit, which allows patients to video conference with a doctor instead of coming into a facility. The goal is to keep patients who don’t need to be treated at a hospital at home. Go to prismahealth.org/virtual-visit and use promo code COVID19 for a free virtual visit.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the coronavirus is spread mainly from person-to-person by those in close contact, or through coughing and sneezing by someone who’s infected.
Symptoms of coronavirus can show up between two and 14 days of exposure, health officials say. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. They can be mild to severe, and in some cases can lead to death.
Those who are at the highest risk of catching COVID-19 are the elderly and those who are already being treated for chronic medical diseases.
While most young people who contract the virus experience mild symptoms, they can spread the disease to people who are more at risk.
Those at high risk for a severe coronavirus case are elderly people with pre-existing medical conditions, health officials said Monday.
Doctors say there is not currently a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, but over-the-counter medications, like cold and cough medicines, can help treat symptoms of the virus.
The mortality rate for people with the virus has been widely reported around 2 to 3%, but health experts note the actual percentage is not that high, as not all cases are diagnosed or reported.
The rate is higher than the flu, which kills on average about 0.1% of people who get it, based on a 10-year average of data from the CDC.
Anyone with concerns about their health, or who believes they are showing symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, is urged to call their healthcare provider.
People with general questions about coronavirus should call the DHEC Care Line at 855-472-3432. The line is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week. Callers are urged to be patient as call volumes are high.