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DHEC: 2 more people in South Carolina die after contracting coronavirus

Updated: Mar. 20, 2020 at 11:46 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported a second and third death related to the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, in the state on Friday.

One person was from Florence County. The patient was elderly and suffered from an underlying health condition, DHEC said.

The other person was also an elderly person with an underlying condition. That person was from Charleston County and lived at the Harmony Assisted Living Facility. DHEC said it’s working with the facility to identify people who came into contact with the patient to try to prevent the spread of the virus.

DHEC did not release the names of the patients who died.

“It is never easy to have to report on the deaths of fellow members of our community,” Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist, said. “We must continue to do all that we can to protect ourselves and those around us from illness by taking precautions to limit the spread of germs. This is especially important for those at higher risk, like the elderly and people with serious underlying health conditions.”

The first coronavirus-related death in South Carolina was reported March 16. That patient was an elderly person in Lexington County. DHEC said that person did have an underlying condition, as well.

Friday, DHEC confirmed a total of 125 coronavirus cases in 25 South Carolina counties.

To see the latest numbers, click or tap here.

DHEC urges the public to do everything they can to help prevent spread of the virus. Social distancing is a good way to do that. Other important measures include:

  • Washing your hands often,
  • covering your cough,
  • staying home when you’re sick, and
  • appropriately disposing tissues and other items that you’ve sneezed or coughed into.

People who are sick need to stay home, DHEC said.

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 -- instead of going to the doctor or emergency room.

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 has 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.

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.

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 developing a serious cases of COVID-19 are 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. However, the CDC said about 40% of people who needed to be hospitalized due to the coronavirus are between the ages of 20 and 54.

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.

Again, 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. Avoid going to a doctor’s office or a hospital/emergency room.

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

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