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Governor closes South Carolina public schools, discourages gatherings of 100+ amid coronavirus concerns

Schools across the state will be closed beginning Monday, March 16 through the end of March.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced Sunday the temporary closures of all public schools across the state beginning Monday, March 16 through the end of March. This includes pre-K - grade 12, as well as all public colleges, universities, trade and technical schools. 

Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- El Gobernador de Carolina del Sur, Henry McMaster, anunció el domingo el cierre temporal de todas las escuelas públicas en todo el estado desde el lunes 16 de marzo hasta finales de marzo. Esto incluye pre-K - grado 12, así como todos los colegios públicos, universidades, escuelas comerciales y técnicas.

S.C. Education Superintendent Molly Spearman said officials are preparing instruction for kids at home and summer feeding options will be activated for the closure. Those details are forthcoming.

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In addition, Governor McMaster urged any gatherings of 100 people or more to be postponed or canceled.

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Any local elections will be postponed until after May 1, although candidate filing requirements will remain on schedule.

RELATED: March and April elections postponed in South Carolina due to coronavirus concerns

Governor McMaster has requested all utilities in the state to not suspend or disconnect any essential services due to non-payment for the time being.

There is no shortage of testing capacity in the state, according to Governor McMaster. In fact, he said the FDA has just approved the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) to process COVID-19 tests.

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Governor McMaster also announced that DHEC has requested the federal government to release South Carolina's allocation of medical supplies from the strategic medical stockpile. 

The announcements come as the S.C. Department of Health & Environmental Control (DHEC) announced they are investigating an additional nine cases of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. This brings the total number of cases statewide to 28.

RELATED: DHEC investigating nine new of COVID-19 in SC

On Friday, Governor McMaster declared a state of emergency in the Palmetto State after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency.

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What is the Coronavirus? 

Conaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases such as pneumonia. DHEC is working with CDC to identify all those who might have been in contact with these individuals. These people will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms.

RELATED: Here are the common symptoms of coronavirus

People can help to prevent the spread of the virus in the following ways:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. And, always wash your hands with soap and water if they are visibly dirty.
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • stay home when you’re sick.
  • cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue and put it in the trash immediately.
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • get the influenza vaccine.

For general questions about COVID-19 residents should visit the DHEC website at scdhec.gov/COVID19 or the CDC website here.

For residents concerned about their own personal health or are showing symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, please call your personal doctor or healthcare provider. DHEC has launched its Care Line. If residents have general questions about COVID-19, the DHEC Care Line is here to help. Call 1-855-472-3432. Staff are answering calls from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call volume has been high. Callers are urged to be patient if they receive a busy signal and try their call at a later time.