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DHEC: 4 presumptive positive cases of coronavirus in South Carolina

Two of the four new cases had direct contact with a Camden elderly woman.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) said the number of presumed coronavirus cases has risen to six, up from two the previous day.

As of Sunday afternoon, four presumptive positive cases were identified after testing for COVID-19 was completed at DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory. 

These are in addition to the two presumptive positive cases the agency announced on March 6. That brings the total number of presumptive positive cases to six. 

“Presumptive positive” means samples from these individuals tested positive for COVID-19 at DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory, however, these results are required to be confirmed by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It takes 24-48 hours for the CDC to confirm samples after they’re received.

RELATED: Two Kershaw students, families asked to self-quarantine over coronavirus

RELATED: SC Governor says no cause for alarm over presumed coronavirus cases

Two of these four new cases are direct contacts (meaning close face-to-face contact) with the Camden elderly woman who was announced as a presumptive positive on March 6. The woman is said to be in her 80s.

“We now have evidence of community spread that’s likely to be causing these initial cases in Camden in Kershaw County and the risk of spread to other communities is possible, as seen in other states across the country,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist. “We are working with the CDC and state and local officials to limit community spread while continuing with our protocol for identifying travel-related cases in the state.”

One of these two individuals is a woman who has hospitalized for reasons unrelated to COVID-19 and is isolated at this time. 

The other individual, an elderly man, was temporarily admitted to a healthcare facility, was discharged, and is currently isolated at home. 

The third new case is a man from Camden with no known connection, at this time, to the other presumptive positive cases from Camden. He was evaluated at a healthcare facility, was not hospitalized and is currently isolated at home.  

The fourth new case is man from Spartanburg County with no known connection, at this time, to any of the other presumptive positive cases. He is not hospitalized and is currently isolated at home. He had recently traveled to Italy. 

The elderly female from Camden was transferred to a health care facility in the Midlands on March 6 to receive a higher level of care. She remains isolated. 

The woman from Charleston County is symptom-free and continuing to self-monitor.

Gov. Henry McMaster issued a statement, shortly after DHEC's announcement, "Healthcare authorities in South Carolina are following established protocols and procedures in addressing the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. There is no cause for public alarm or speculation. It’s important to remember that each individual is responsible for their own actions and personal hygiene. If you feel sick, stay home and contact your doctor. Or from your home, you can consult with a doctor for free with MUSC’s online web site here,  South Carolinians should continue to follow recommendations and information provided by official sources." 

In line with CDC guidance, the department does not recommend closing schools or canceling public events at this time. DHEC will monitor absentee rates in schools and businesses as well as reports of illness in the community to determine if or when closures may be recommended. DHEC also is providing updated recommendations to schools and day care facilities, colleges and universities, and organizers of large events. That updated information is publicly available here. 

DHEC continues to be in communication with state agencies and community partners.

 As of Sunday afternoon, DHEC has tested a total of 18 individuals for COVID-19, which includes the six presumptive positives. 

The remaining tests are negative. 

All patients are in isolation at home except for the elderly woman in Camden who is in isolation at Prisma Health Richland in Columbia. 

DHEC will update the public as soon as the confirmatory test results from the CDC are available, and as other new information is known

Click here for the update as of March 8.

The DHEC Care Line is available to provide general information about COVID-19 by calling 1-855-472-3432 from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. seven days a week. The Care Line hours are extend to 9 p.m. tonight. Because call volume has been high, callers are urged to be patient if they receive a busy signal and try their call at a later time. 

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