UPDATE: DHEC reclassified a COVID-19 case on Monday, moving Greenwood County back down to two cases.
Three Greenwood County residents have tested positive for the new coronavirus, COVID-19, according to the state’s health agency, while Abbeville Area Medical Center says one of its employees has also contracted the virus.
“The employee recognized symptoms early on and self-quarantined at home. After evaluating work schedules and due to the employee’s quick response to symptoms, the exposure to others was limited and is considered ‘low risk,’” the Abbeville hospital said late Saturday in a press release that said those who were potentially exposed have been notified and are self-monitoring.
Greenwood County officials announced the county’s first two cases in a news release sent to news outlets just before noon Saturday. Later in the day, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control updated information about an already reported case to reflect the patient’s county of residence is Greenwood.
Self Regional Healthcare received notification Saturday morning of its first two positive cases of COVID-19.
“We have been anticipating our first positive cases, and have been working for weeks to make the necessary preparations and establish protocols that will allow us to safely care for patients with COVID-19 and keep our clinicians and our community safe at the same time,” Dr. Matthew Logan, chief medical officer at Self Regional Healthcare, said in a prepared statement.
“These first cases were identified through our drive-through community screening process. Self Regional is currently providing screening for Greenwood and the six surrounding counties. We are following the protocols that have been put in place for home quarantine for these patients. We want to strongly encourage people to remain calm and continue to follow all the CDC’s recommendations for social distancing and hand hygiene so we can keep these positive results to a minimum in our community,” Logan said.
George McKinney, county emergency management coordinator, said no other details about the patients were available.
“All DHEC told us is two Greenwood County residents tested positive,” Toby Chappell, county manager, said before DHEC updated its numbers. They won’t make any other information available, such as where in the county the patients are from, he said.
County officials do not know who the patients are or where they are, but McKinney said if they tested positive they were sent home to self-quarantine.
“There is a letter that states they are to go home and quarantine themselves by law,” McKinney said. Punitive action can be taken if they violate the order, he said.
Including the cases in Greenwood County, state health officials announced 46 new cases on Saturday, increasing the South Carolina’s total to 173 cases of COVID-19. Neighboring Newberry and Edgefield counties also saw their first reported cases, joining Greenwood, Abbeville and Saluda. Statewide, there have been three reported deaths from the virus.
McKinney and Derek Oliver, emergency services director, reiterated a call for calm among county residents. “We have to work through what we have here,” McKinney said, while urging residents to continue practicing safeguards DHEC and CDC have outlined, which includes regular hand washing, keeping an appropriate distance from other people, and if possible, working from home.
Mark Hyatt, director of marketing and public relations for Self Regional Healthcare, said patient privacy regulations prevent him from sharing specifics about the two patients who tested positive at Self, but did say they are isolated at home with “mild symptoms.”
Hyatt said Self Regional will post frequent updates on its website, selfregional.org/coronavirus-information/ as the situation develops.
Greenwood County officials are restricting public access until further notice to facilities as listed below:
• The courthouse will be closed to the public. At the main entrance, there is a drop box for all payments and paperwork as well as a phone if you need to speak with a department.
• All county offices in Park Plaza are closed to the public with the exception of Voters Registration (see below). The public can come to room 102 where a phone is available to call offices with questions.
• The Parks and Recreation buildings, not the parks themselves, are closed to the public.
• The Veterans Affairs office is restricting the number of walk-ins. The public is strongly encouraged to call 864-450-9268 to schedule an appointment.
• County Public Works building is closed to the public. If you have questions, call 864-942-8662.
• The Library and Museum will remain closed to the public.
• Voter registration is open and operating as normal.
The public is strongly encouraged to use email, phones and the U.S. Postal Service to conduct business with the county.