Local lawmaker, fire chief react to DHEC changes in coronavirus reporting, testing priorities

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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – Early Wednesday, SCDHEC made changes to the amount of information about coronavirus patients they give out to officials, and who they prioritize for testing.

“In this given pandemic, I think it’s important that we get more localized information to people,” said Representative Russell Fry.

Amid the coronavirus crisis, local lawmakers and the South Carolina Association of Counties were looking for answers for first responders.

“Our first responders are critical at this time,” said Rep. Fry. “Our healthcare workers, they’re on the front lines.”

The association sent a letter, supported by Midway Fire Rescue, saying first responders need to know the specific locations of coronavirus patients.

Representative Fry also sent a letter asking DHEC to be more transparent.

They asked, and DHEC answered, saying they’d prioritize testing for first responders and send zip codes of coronavirus patients to emergency management officials.

“The response was in less than 24 hours. I think that means a lot,” said Midway Fire Chief Doug Eggiman. “I think that really shows that DHEC and the governor’s office understands, you know, what we’re talking about.”

Fire Chief Eggiman says this is crucial, especially in medical emergencies.

“In those situations, if we encounter, you know, if we encounter the situation all of a sudden now our personnel are exposed, and under the cdc guidelines, they’re subject to quarantine for 14 days,” he said.

“In those controlled environments, where they could spread it very easily, we need to make sure that we’re looking out for them so that they don’t spread it,” said Rep. Fry.

Rep. Fry believes both announcements are steps in the right direction.

“We have probably a dozen or so zip codes, so it really helps locals,” he said.

Moving forward, Fire Chief Eggiman says communication is key.

“We still got a little work to do as we move forward, and I think that’s the communication with the hospitals, and DHEC and us, you know, all recognizing that we’re really a team.”

Rep. Fry tells News13 giving out those zip codes will not only keep first responders safe, but will also protect the health information of those patients.

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