Lancaster Co. representative criticizes DHEC’s guidance to not cancel events

Lancaster Co. representative criticizes DHEC’s guidance to not cancel events
DHEC says “the status of COVID-19 in South Carolina does not indicate that cancellation of events or schools is needed at this time.” (Source: Gray Media)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A state representative from a South Carolina county with positive cases of coronavirus has criticized a tweet from the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) that suggests events should not be canceled because of the virus.

Thursday afternoon, DHEC tweeted that “the status of COVID-19 in South Carolina does not indicate that cancellation of events or schools is needed at this time.”

DHEC said it would “immediately notify the public” if its recommendations changed.

This was sent out during a flurry of updates from event organizers deciding to cancel events around the state -- including sporting events, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, Soda City Market in downtown Columbia, and more.

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While several higher education institutions have extended spring break or moved to online instruction, K-12 school districts have not announced any schedule changes at this time. WIS is working to find out if some districts are moving in that direction.

A short time after DHEC’s tweet, Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell jumped into the conversation.

Norrell, who represents Lancaster County -- where two people have tested positive for coronavirus, said she disagrees with the public health agency.

Norrell said she “applaud(s) those who are making the hard decisions” to cancel or postpone events.

South Carolina’s response to COVID-19 is in stark contrast with some other states that have a similar number of cases -- such as Kentucky, where there are 11 cases.

Kentucky’s governor has called for all schools to close or move to online courses for at least two weeks.

A small, mostly rural county in Kentucky -- Harrison County -- has seven coronavirus cases. Schools have been closed there since the first case was reported.

Here in South Carolina, Kershaw County has eight cases, but no schools have closed.

WIS is pushing officials for information on testing and closures and will have the latest on wistv.com as this story develops.

FACTS ABOUT CORONAVIRUS

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.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But some severe cases can lead to death.

Those who are at the highest risk of catching COVID-19 are the young, the elderly and those who are already being treated for chronic medical diseases.

Young people who contract the virus are not likely to have a serious case, research shows.

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.

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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 health care 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. every day. Callers are urged to be patient as call volumes are high.

People without a doctor can take advantage of free care from Prisma Health and 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.

For more information on COVID-19, click or tap here to visit the CDC’s website.

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