LEXINGTON, S.C. (WIS) - Officials have announced the first death related to COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, in South Carolina.
The patient was from Lexington County and a resident of the Lexington Medical Center Extended Care Skilled Nursing Facility, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported.
Officials have not shared the age of the patient, or any underlying conditions. However, the person was being cared for at the nursing home facility and lived there full-time.
Late last week, the patient was transferred to Lexington Medical Center’s hospital and put in isolation. A test result for coronavirus later came back positive.
The patient died in the hospital.
“We regret to report that South Carolina has suffered its first death in an elderly person recently reported to have been diagnosed with COVID-19 who was a resident of Lexington Medical Center Extended Care Skilled Nursing Facility,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Physician Consultant. “Our state health officials continue to work with national and local partners to respond to this ongoing public health matter.”
Officials reported previously the patient had no contact to another known coronavirus case and no recent travel history to an impacted area. That left health officials looking closely at everyone the person came into contact with to find out where the patient contracted the virus.
DHEC said it’s working with the nursing home to track down everyone who came into contact with the patient. Officials said they have also been putting measures into place to prevent the spread of the virus in the extended care facility.
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“We know that many South Carolinians are concerned about what impact this virus may have on themselves, their loved ones, and our state,” Traxler said. “This is a rapidly evolving public health event, and DHEC takes every new infectious disease seriously. This is an example of the importance of taking precautions to protect those at higher risk, like the elderly and people with serious underlying health conditions.”
DHEC says the most important way to stop coronavirus from spreading is to practice disease prevention measures, such as social distancing and the following personal hygiene practices:
- washing your hands frequently,
- covering your cough,
- staying home when you’re sick, and
- appropriately disposing tissues and other items that you’ve sneezed or coughed into.
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.
Anyone with concerns about their health, or who believes they are showing symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, should 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 online screening from Prisma Health and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).
MUSC has an online platform to aid with coronavirus diagnosis and care. Go to musc.care and access the COVID-19 platform. The service is free with code: COVID19.
Prisma Health also recently 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.