As of Sunday, April 26, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported 56 cases in Williamsburg County, nearly quadrupling in a week. The DHEC site does not report any deaths associated with the virus. DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory has conducted 14,029 tests for COVID-19. Of these tests, 1,801 positive and 12,228 were negative. A total of 50,761 total tests by both DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory and private labs have been conducted in the state.
DHEC recently added a reporting system that provides regular updates that have an associated case of COVID-19 within South Carolina nursing homes and similar facilities, as well as the number of positive cases for either residents or staff members.
As of April 21, 46 facilities have at least one case. Heartland Health and Rehabilitation Care Center in Hanahan reported the highest number of confirmed cases at 57. The News reached out to Carlyle Senior Care of Kingstree for an update. Administrator Candace Slavinksi provided a press release which stated, “We are doing everything we can to ensure we prevent the spread of and further introduction of the COVID-19 virus within our facility. We currently have confirmed positive COVID-19 cases associated with our facility. We are in very close communication with local and state health officials to ensure we are taking the appropriate steps at this time. Our staff and residents are following the recommended preventative actions. We continue to restrict visitors from entering our facility, and continue to not have group activities. Other residents and staff are being monitored closely for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.”
Due to patient privacy laws, specific information about confirmed cases cannot be disclosed, however; Slavinski said family members are being kept up to date. She also confirmed visitors are not allowed inside the facility and other residents who may have had close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual have been quarantined and are being closely monitored.
On March 13, Gov. Henry McMaster issued an Executive Order that stopped public visitation to these types of facilities in order to help protect the vulnerable population of residents, the staff who care for them, and outside visitors.
The Public Health Laboratory’s current timeframe for providing results to health care providers is 24-48 hours. According to DHEC, the spread of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 is common in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and similar congregate facilities due to shared living and dining areas as well as limitations for social distancing. DHEC has worked, and continues to work, closely with these health care facilities to provide guidance and help implement recommendations for protecting residents as well as the workers who care for them.
DHEC notes that there are many people within our communities who have the virus and have never been tested. Undiagnosed cases often experience mild, limited or no symptoms, which is why they go unrecognized; they can expose a far greater portion of the population to the virus. Regardless of the number of reported cases within an area, all South Carolinians should take seriously the recommended precautions for protecting against this disease.
At time of press, DHEC’s latest report on South Carolina nursing homes and similar facilities had not been updated. The News will add any updates to this article online at kingstreenews.com.
DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory is operating extended hours and is testing specimens seven days a week. For COVID-19 information and updates, visit scdhec.gov/covid19.