S.C. governor maintains no need for shelter-in-place; state has 456 coronavirus cases

South Carolina's governor maintained his stance Thursday that a statewide shelter-in-place order is not necessary at this point.
Updated: Mar. 26, 2020 at 11:40 PM EDT
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WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Gov. Henry McMaster maintained his stance on not issuing a shelter-in-place for South Carolina during his news conference Thursday afternoon on the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The governor has faced criticism from several lawmakers who believe he should issue such an order.

While McMaster has not ruled that out, he hasn’t made a move in that direction.

At the beginning of Thursday’s news conference, the governor repeated the state does not need such a “drastic measure” at this time.

McMaster said he thinks the state is seeing success with asking citizens to voluntarily follow social distancing guidelines.

“The business of South Carolina is business,” the governor said.

He added he supports President Donald Trump’s “optimism” that parts of the country can reopen by Easter.

DHEC announced two more deaths in the state Thursday, bringing the total to nine.

One patient was an elderly person from Kershaw County who had underlying health conditions. That person was Jack West, a lobbyist and the son of former South Carolina governor John West.

The second patient was an elderly person from Sumter County who also had underlying health conditions.

Thursday, 32 more cases of coronavirus were confirmed by DHEC. That means there are 456 confirmed cases in South Carolina.

DHEC’s public lab has conducted 2,578 tests. Other labs have been authorized to test, as well, but they only report positive test results to the state -- so the true number of people who have been tested in South Carolina is not known.

People who are not symptomatic should not be tested, DHEC said.

While McMaster hasn’t issued a shelter-in-place, he has issued several executive orders to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

McMaster has asked all out-of-state visitors to self-quarantine for 14 days when coming South Carolina.

Tuesday, the governor ordered law enforcement to break up groups of three or more in public if officers deem it poses a public health risk. That order does not apply to businesses or family outings, he said.

He has also shut down all dine-in services at restaurants and bars, and closed public schools through April.

DHEC urges small businesses to “practice social distancing and consider if they provide an essential service” when considering whether to stay open.

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 the doctor or an emergency room unless the situation is life-threatening.

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 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. 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.

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.

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

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