Email Records Reveal Truth Behind Greenwood Co. TB Outbreak - WSPA.com

Email Records Reveal Truth Behind Greenwood Co. TB Outbreak

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Emails reveal the real story behind the state's handling of a Tuberculosis outbreak. Emails reveal the real story behind the state's handling of a Tuberculosis outbreak.
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Using the Freedom of Information Act, 7 On Your Side combed through more than 5 thousand emails from staff at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control starting with the first ones sent after learning of a patient with tuberculosis in Greenwood County until parents at Ninety Six Primary School were notified of the outbreak.

The first red flags come March 12th when nine D-HEC employees are warned of a “TB suspect” at “Ninety Six Primary School”.

It would be three months before parents were notified.

Early in the investigation, the agency appears concerned about the public resonse.

On March 14th, employee Malinda Martin wrote “the one in Greenwood is a media concern.”

Five days later, on March 19th, Martin warns fellow staffers they may be able to “avoid involving the school,” where the TB patient worked.

 On the 22nd, Latrina Richard fears “this may end up in the paper.”

More red flags appear after D-HEC does visit the school.

On March 28th, exactly two months before parents were notified of the outbreak, emails show “there is an open air duct that is directly between” classrooms and the contagious patient’s office, “with air easily flowing from one to the other.”

In Mid-April word got out.  A concerned parent writes to D-HEC asking them to be “pro-active” in handling the outbreak. That letter is emailed to the agency’s media relations staff.

On April 18th, the emails show the school’s principal “wants to send out a press release or some official information to parents.”

This is after several adult staff at the school test positive for tuberculosis over spring break.

The request appears to be denied by a top agency official.  Jamie Schuster, the Director of Public Health writes there should be no fact sheet sent home until after consulting with state attorneys at the Office of General Counsel.

We've posted every one of these emails for viewers to review.  There are in five batches :

Batch 1
Batch 2
Batch 3
Batch 4
Batch 5


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