COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster on Monday met with the S.C. Public Health Emergency Plan Committee to discuss the state’s preparedness for the potential impact of the coronavirus.
“To quote the group ‘The Eagles,’ take it easy,” he said during a press conference immediately after that meeting. “Don’t get excited. This is not a hurricane, it’s not a flood – this is like the flu, you could call it the first cousin to the regular flu.”
McMaster confirmed there are zero cases of the coronavirus in South Carolina and very few cases in the United States so far, despite there being two deaths in Washington State.
“This particular virus, unlike the chickenpox, which is carried in the air, is not airborne. That means those of us in this room as long as we’re not getting sneezed on or coughed on or touching a surface where someone has sneezed or coughed and then rubbed their mouth, eye or nose will not get this virus. It is transferred by contact.”
Gov. McMaster says if you have the symptoms of the flu or a cold you should call your doctor and stay home until you are well.
“If you just do what your momma told you all those years ago – if you’re going to sneeze or cough – cover your mouth,” he said. “If someone is sneezing or coughing, stay away from them.”
He also said to wash your hands throughout the day. “The main way to kill this virus, if it is present, is not with some chemical or radiation, not with the atomic bomb, but with warm water and soap.”
McMaster went on to say, “Take it easy. Don’t panic. You don’t need to stock up on anything except maybe hand sanitizer, have some of that. But everybody’s got soap and water.”
The Director of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, Rick Toomey, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has authorized DHEC’s lab to conduct testing in the state.
“Samples do not have to be sent from any hospital in the state to Atlanta, they can come to Columbia,” he said.
The department said they are very closing monitoring the ‘rapidly evolving situation’ both worldwide and in the United States, but again said there are no confirmed cases in South Carolina at this time.
DHEC says it will notify the public if there were to be a confirmed case.
McMaster said he will continue to meet and communicate to be sure that South Carolina is way ahead of everybody in getting the best information and disseminating it to the citizens.