McMaster, health officials talk possible SC coronavirus cases


WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WBTW) – South Carolina officials held a press conference Saturday morning on the novel coronavirus.

Governor McMaster was joined by state health officials as they addressed the two possible cases of COVID-19 in South Carolina and how the state has prepared.

“This is precisely what we have been planning for,” Governor McMaster said. “All hands are on deck… and there’s no reason for alarm.”

State Epidemiologist Doctor Linda Bell said health risk across the United States and South Carolina remains low, but it’s important for the public to remain vigilant.

That includes doing things like covering coughs and sneezes, staying home when sick and washing hands with soap and water, she said.

Officials said the state has prepared for situations like this and that plans in place are working. The medical professionals who dealt with the two patients who possibly have the virus followed CDC and DHEC guidelines, officials said Saturday.

The following details have been shared by state health officials about the possible cases.

The two patients who had presumptive positive results are from Kershaw and Charleston Counties. The two cases are unrelated.

The woman in Charleston County is in her 30s and is self-isolated at home. She had recently returned from a trip to Italy and France. She has a ‘mild illness’ that does not require medical treatment at this time, officials said. MUSC confirmed that she is a staff member.

Officials say she returned by flight through Charleston ‘over a week ago.’

The other patient, who is in her 80s, has been transferred from a Kershaw County hospital to one in the Midlands. She does not have a known exposure, which DHEC is looking into.

Dr. Bell said they have enough testing kits available to test between 80 and 100 patients per day.

DHEC works to identify close contacts of possible cases to learn who may have been exposed. Officials say this helps to curb the spread of disease.

MUSC says it is working to deliver better testing. As of Saturday morning, MUSC is offering a free virtual care platform for people experiencing flu-like symptoms. Providers can treat symptoms and give information.

It’s available for free to everyone in South Carolina 24/7. Users must use the promo code COVID19 at check out.

Trident Medical Center is also offering a service for residents. Residents can call Trident’s free Consult-A-Nurse about any COVID-19 or flu-related questions. Call 843-797-3463 and you will be able to speak to a registered nurse.

Officials say they will continue to release information to the public as they monitor the virus. Count on News13 for updates.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced Friday night that it is investigating two possible cases of the COVID-19 novel Coronavirus.

The presumptive positive cases, not linked to each other, are in Kershaw County and Charleston County. Preliminary information indicates that one patient is an elderly woman from Kershaw County who has been hospitalized and is in isolation. The second patient is a woman from Charleston County who recently traveled to France and Italy. The patient did not require hospitalization and is self-isolated at home.

Governor Henry McMaster also announced that he will hold a media briefing with state public health officials on Saturday at 10 a.m.

“Healthcare authorities in South Carolina have been preparing for this eventuality and there is no reason for public alarm,” Gov. McMaster said in a statement Friday. “DHEC is working with the CDC on confirmation for these cases. South Carolinians should continue to follow recommendations and information provided by official sources.”

“We understand that residents have concerns about how the virus may impact South Carolinians,” Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist said in a statement. “While the risk to the public remains low, there is no evidence of ongoing transmission in the community at this time and our primary goals remain prevention and control.”

The samples submitted tested positive at DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory, according to DHEC. These results are required to be confirmed by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) laboratory and are in the process of being submitted for this confirmatory testing. DHEC said in a statement it will update the public as soon as the test results from the CDC are available, which typically takes 24 to 48 hours after the specimens are received. At this time, DHEC says it has tested a total of 10 individuals for COVID-19, including the two presumptive positives on Friday. The remaining tests are negative.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases such as pneumonia. DHEC says it is working with CDC to identify all those who might have been in contact with these individuals. These people will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms.

“No additional precautions are recommended for the public at this time, beyond the simple daily precautions that everyone should always take steps to stop the spread of illness, including getting the flu vaccine, washing your hands, covering your cough, and appropriately disposing tissues and other items contaminated with respiratory droplets,” Dr. Bell said.

DHEC says it is taking proactive steps to be prepared to protect the health of South Carolina’s communities, including informing healthcare providers throughout the state of recommendations for testing, the availability for testing and the appropriate precautions for the general public.

For general questions about COVID-19 residents should visit the DHEC website at or the CDC website here.

For residents concerned about their own personal health or are showing symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, you’re asked to call your personal doctor or healthcare provider. DHEC has launched its Care Line. If residents have general questions about COVID-19, the DHEC Care Line is here to help. Call 1-855-472-3432. Staff are answering calls from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Callers are urged to be patient if they receive a busy signal and try their call at a later time.

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