The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has people very nervous, and with good reason. McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC has always believed that the way to combat fear is to get the facts, because only then can you make good decisions that are in your own best interest. We have compiled as much pertinent information as we can here, including links to government resources for testing, education, and travel.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Coronaviruses can cause different types of respiratory illnesses and related symptoms. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that COVID-19 is spread through person-to-person contact “through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.”
At this time, WHO reports that COVID-19 spreads through contact with droplets, as opposed through the air (aerosolization). In layman’s terms, this means that it is unlikely you will contract COVID-19 simply through sharing airspace with another person.
However, because the infection spreads through contact, WHO advises staying at least 3 feet away from other people, because the droplets can travel when someone coughs or sneezes.
What are the symptoms?
COVID-19 presents with cold and/or flulike symptoms: fever, fatigue, and dry cough. It is possible to be infected and not present with symptoms at all.
How long will it last?
The incubation period for COVID-19 can range between 1 and 14 days. One study has found “that people who are infected begin to develop antibodies to the virus quickly, typically within six to 12 days.”
What can I do to reduce the risk of getting infected with COVID-19?
WHO, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) all recommend the following steps to reduce the risk of transmission:
- Avoiding all essential travel out of the country
- Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds
- Covering your mouth when you cough (and then immediately washing your hands)
- Not touching your face, including your mouth, ears, eyes, and nose
- Properly disposing of all tissues, napkins, or other products used when you sneeze
- Staying home when you’re sick
The DHEC Care Line is open from 8:00am to 6:00pm to answer your general questions about COVID-19: 1-855-472-3432.
You can find travel notices and information from the CDC here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
Do I need to wear a mask?
Only if you are infected with COVID-19, or are currently caring for someone with the illness. Because there is a shortage of masks worldwide, WHO is asking people not to use disposable masks if they are not sick.
Should I wear gloves?
You can, but you don’t have to. The thing about COVID-19 is that it can survive for a long time outside of the body. If you choose to wear gloves, you will need to replace them every time you touch a different surface. Furthermore, you would not be any more protected from COVID-19 if you continue to touch your face.
What is “social distancing”?
If you have been online in the last few weeks, you have probably seen references to “social distancing” and “self-quarantine.”
Social distancing is defined as “deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness.” It is already being undertaken in South Carolina through the closing of schools and working from home.
Self-quarantine is a bit different, in that it is a decision made by an individual to avoid contact whenever possible with other people. This may mean staying at home, cancelling plans to visit others, and not sharing things like utensils or food.
[insert video here]
Getting tested for COVID-19 in South Carolina
At this time, testing for COVID-19 has proved challenging. However, all 50 states now have options for testing for the virus. Here is how it works if you need to be tested:
- Contact your doctor to see if you should be evaluated for COVID-19 in person. Whether or not you are tested will be determined by DHEC. You must fit a certain set of parameters to be tested at this time, because the number of available tests is still inadequate. You can find the list of criteria here: https://www.scdhec.gov/sites/default/files/media/document/10449-DHU-03-05-2020-COVID-19.pdf
- If your doctor tests you for the virus, those specimens will be sent to the South Carolina Public Health Laboratory, LabQuest and/or LabCorp.
- The results of your test should be available in 24 hours.
Four different hospitals have set-up telehealth clinics for South Carolinians who believe they may have been exposed to, or infected with, COVID-19. It is free to use the telehealth services from these providers. Please used the code “COVID19” when consulting:
- MUSC Health Virtual Urgent Care
- McLeod Telehealth
- Prisma Health Virtual Visit
- Roper St. Francis Healthcare Virtual Care
Information about schools in South Carolina
Governor Henry McMaster has ordered the closing of all public schools in South Carolina, through the end of March. WYFF News has provided these lists of updates:
What about school assessment testing?
WYFF reports that State Superintendent Molly Spearman has asked the federal government to cancel the statewide assessment testing that usually happens in the spring.
What about prom?
At this time, the governor has asked that all public gatherings be limited to fewer than 100 people. You should check your local school district’s website for information about proms, dances, and other school activities.
What about private schools, daycares, and other non-public educational facilities?
If your child attends private school, daycare, or another non-public education facility, you should contact the institution directly to see if it is closed.
What about online classes?
Right now, South Carolina’s transportation officials are trying to coordinate a way to get all students online. Per WYFF, that means potentially “providing school buses with hardware to deliver WiFi to remote areas.”
What about school lunches?
South Carolina is setting up food centers to help families whose children rely on school food programs. You can find out more about these food centers here.
We hope this information helps you feel less anxious and more in-control while the country deals with the COVID-19 pandemic. All of us at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC want you to stay safe and healthy.