The coronavirus outbreak is officially a pandemic, and Abbeville County residents are working hard to cope.
"We did have a meeting Monday (March 9) with community stakeholders," said Will Blackwell, the Abbeville County Director of Emergency Services.
"The purpose of this meeting was to gather everyone to update them on the current status of the virus and to ensure continuity plans were in place. The main points of the meeting were to make sure everyone was relaying a consistent message, of which will be any guidance from SC DHEC and the CDC, as well as ensure that if the Lakelands are impacted that we can continue to provide essential service to the community."
In attendance were leaders from the emergency response community, local government, the school district, local healthcare partners, and businesses. This meeting allowed for any questions to be answered and to collaborate on best practices from one agency to the next.
"Does EMS have, or will you all be getting any coronavirus test kits?" Will Blackwell was asked. People have asked about the availability of those in this area.
"No sir," said Blackwell. "Healthcare facilities, such as the hospital, will perform the test. It will then be sent to SC DHEC for testing. From there, the State can confirm a presumptive positive testing. It is then sent to the CDC for final testing before the person can be confirmed with the virus."
"We do not test unless the patient meets the criteria," said Sharon Martin, Director of Nursing with the Abbeville Area Medical Center.
The criteria involves a series of questions:
"Have you traveled outside the US or been in regions of the the US where there have been numerous positive cases?"
"Have you come in close contact with someone who has the coronavirus?"
In addition to answering yes to one of those questions, you have to be symptomatic -- that is, you have to have a fever of 100 degrees or greater, a dry cough, and shortness of breath.
Currently, Abbeville Area Medical Center has the supplies to collect specimens for coronavirus testing. If the physician suspects a patient has the coronavirus, that doctor will consult with the Regional DHEC Epidemiology office to find out if testing is necessary according to DHEC criteria.
If you have reason to suspect exposure to the coronavirus, by either recent travel or contact with a patient confirmed to have the coronavirus, one may call Abbeville Area Medical Center at 366-5011, or Abbeville Area Healthcare Center at 366-1770, or Savannah Lakes Family Medicine at 366-1770 or Due West Family Medicine at 379-2345.
Patient visitation at AAMC is being limited to immediate family members only.
No visitors under the age of 16 will be allowed.
Breakfast and lunch services to the public have been suspended until the threat of the virus has passed.