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COVID-19- Information

COVID-19- Information

Stop the Spread of Germs

As of Tuesday, March 4, 2020, the CDC has confirmed 60 cases of COVID-19 detected and tested in the U.S. through U.S. public health surveillance systems, including cases in which the virus had spread between two people. It is likely there will be more cases reported in the U.S.

  • Imported cases of COVID-19 in travelers has been detected in the U.S.
  • Person-to-person spread with this virus in the U.S. was first reported among close contacts with travelers who returned from Wuhan, China.
  • Previously, all confirmed U.S. cases had been associated with travel to Wuhan, China, where an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by this novel coronavirus has been ongoing since December 2019.
  • Finding person-to-person spread in the U.S. of COVID-19 is not surprising. CDC and DHEC have been preparing for the introduction of this virus in the United States for weeks.
  • Community spread of cases of COVID-19 is now occurring in a number of countries.
  • During the week of Feb. 23, 2020, CDC reported community spread of the virus in California (in two places), Oregon, and Washington. Community spread in Washington resulted in the first death in the U.S. from COVID-19, as well as the first reported case of COVID-19 in a health care worker, and the first potential outbreak in a long-term care facility. For updates on national case counts from the CDC, click here.
  • The CDC has also confirmed 48 cases of COVID-19 in persons repatriated to the U.S., including 45 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
  • On Jan. 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency for the U.S.
  • Also on Jan. 31, the President of the U.S. signed a presidential  “Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus."
  • Investigations are underway to determine if others were potentially exposed to the virus.
  • No cases have been currently identified in South Carolina.

About coronaviruses and the current COVID-19 outbreak

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases such as pneumonia, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). COVID-19 was originally thought to have spread from animal to person, but person-to-person spread is now occurring.

Outbreaks of novel virus infections are public health concerns. The risk of COVID-19 infections in South Carolina depends on multiple factors, including the likelihood of travelers from affected areas, how easily the virus may spread from person to person and the effectiveness of measures to prevent community spread in the U.S. and internationally. COVID-19 is not wide-spread in the U.S. at this time, though it is likely that this illness will become a pandemic. COVID-19 poses a high potential threat to public health, both globally and to the U.S., though an individual’s risk is dependent on exposure. With some exceptions, members of the general public in the U.S. are unlikely to be exposed to the virus at this time and are at low risk for COVID-19.

Illness Severity

Both MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV have been known to cause severe illness in people. The complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is not fully understood. Reported illnesses have ranged from mild to severe, including illness resulting in death. Learn more about the symptoms associated with COVID-19.

There are ongoing investigations to learn more. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.

Prevention

DHEC and the CDC currently recommend avoiding all nonessential travel to China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea, as well as following the CDC’s recommendations regarding travel to other countries affected by COVID-19.

This is a rapidly evolving public health event, and DHEC takes every new infectious disease seriously. DHEC continues to encourage people who are unvaccinated to get the flu vaccine. This protects individuals and the public and reduces confusion of more common respiratory illnesses with possible COVID-19 illnesses.

Other steps South Carolinians can take to help stay healthy include:

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

CDC Outbreak Response Activities

  • CDC and DHEC are mounting an aggressive public health response strategy to identify potential cases early, assure they receive appropriate care and prevent additional spread when possible.
  • DHEC and the CDC currently recommend avoiding all nonessential travel to China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea, as well as following the CDC’s recommendations regarding travel to other countries affected by COVID-19. In addition, the CDC and U.S. Customs and Border Protection are implementing enhanced health screenings to detect travelers with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing when entering the U.S. from some countries.
  • CDC has issued Health Alerts, including guidance on key matters such as how to identify individuals who should be considered persons under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19 infection and reporting to local/state health departments. DHEC also shared the CDC’s alert with those in South Carolina enrolled to receive Health Alerts.
  • CDC has developed guidance outlining appropriate precautions for healthcare workers caring for ill patients in health care settings and homes of people with COVID-19 who do not require hospitalization.
  • On Jan. 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency for the U.S.
  • On February 28, 2020, CDC and DHEC issued a Health Alert Network (HAN): Update and Interim Guidance on Outbreak of COVID-19.

How CDC and DHEC are working together

CDC has been proactively preparing for the introduction of COVID-19 in the U.S. for weeks, including alerting clinicians about how to detect, report and diagnose COVID-19 and prevent spread and providing guidance for travelers.

As the state’s lead public health agency, DHEC is taking proactive steps to be prepared for potential cases in South Carolina, including remaining updated on and following the latest CDC recommendations related to surveillance, evaluation, and response.

Highlights of DHEC Response Activities

No cases of COVID-19 have been identified at this time. However, DHEC continues to monitor CDC developments and guidance daily and has taken the following proactive steps to protect the health of the public:

  • Developed tools for the investigation of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases and provided training to epidemiology staff across the state to investigate and report cases.
  • Communicated information to hospital laboratories, infection preventionists, and physicians to keep them informed about how to identify and report possible cases to DHEC.
  • Developed this webpage to provide information and other resources about COVID-19 for the public.
  • Held an informational briefing for legislators and reporters on COVID-19 preparations and activities in South Carolina on Jan. 29, 2020.
  • Held a teleconference for hospital public information officers (PIOs) on Jan. 31, 2020.
  • With Governor McMaster, convened a meeting with the Public Health Emergency Plan Committee to discuss updates on the virus on Jan. 31, 2020.
  • Provided an update for hospital executives at the South Carolina Hospital Association annual meeting on Feb. 5, 2020.
  • Briefed the S.C. Board of Health and Environmental Control on COVID-19 preparations and activities in South Carolina on Feb. 13, 2020.
  • Held a teleconference for South Carolina university and college PIOs on Feb. 14, 2020.
  • On February 28, 2020, CDC and DHEC issued a HAN: Update and Interim Guidance on Outbreak of COVID-19.
  • On March 2, 2020, DHEC joined Governor McMaster to convene the Public Health Emergency Plan Committee to discuss the potential impact of COVID-19 to South Carolinians.

The agency also has and will continue to conduct outreach to schools, businesses, state agencies, and others. In addition, DHEC will continue to conduct outreach to organizations and at-risk groups. The agency will also continue to prepare and work with local, state, and national partners to respond to issues related to COVID-19.

 

Visit https://scdhec.gov/health/infectious-diseases/viruses/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19  for more information.

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