Coronavirus update: Confirmed cases reach 14 in Beaufort County, 195 in SC

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County closes offices; BCSD combines free lunch, breakfast pickups

Staff reports

Two more confirmed cases of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus brings the total in Beaufort County to 14 as of Sunday afternoon, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

Statewide, DHEC is investigating 22 additional cases, bringing the total number statewide to 195 cases in 33 counties.

“We recognize the hardships that are facing many South Carolinians as we continue to respond to this ongoing public health event,” DHEC physician Dr. Brannon Traxler said in a news release. “We encourage the public to focus on things that each of us can do to limit the spread of illness by washing your hands, covering your mouth when you cough, and practicing social distancing.”

The total number of confirmed cases nationwide surpassed 30,000, according to NPR and the New York Times. There have been more than 400 deaths nationwide, three in South Carolina.

Beaufort County closes all buildings

Beginning Monday, March 23, all Beaufort County buildings will be closed to the public until further notice to protect the health of citizens, visitors, and employees, and minimize opportunities to spread COVID-19 in the community.

Many services by the Assessor, Auditor, Business License, Planning and Zoning, Treasurer, and other County offices are accessible online, by phone, fax, or through the mail. Visit the County website at www.beaufortcountysc.gov and select “Government” for a department listing.

Also, there will be bins outside of the County Administration Building (Robert Smalls Complex, 100 Ribaut Road, Beaufort) for citizens to drop off and pick up paperwork such as business license applications, permit applications, and plans for review. The County will invoice for any associated fees for submission that normally require immediate payment. Please do not deposit cash or checks in these bins, which will be monitored and emptied daily so that all paperwork can be processed accordingly.
All Convenience Centers remain open according to their regular operating schedules for now. Emergency and public safety services remain available as usual.

For questions regarding operations of State agencies operating from Beaufort County buildings, please contact those agencies directly.

S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control – https://www.scdhec.gov/health/health-public-health-clinics

S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice – https://djj.sc.gov/

S.C. Department of Social Services – https://dss.sc.gov/

S.C. Healthy Connections – https://www.scdhhs.gov/

S.C. Probation, Parole & Pardon Services – https://www.dppps.sc.gov/

Beaufort Memorial Hospital adjusts visitor policy

Effective Monday, March 23, all Beaufort Memorial Hospital and outpatient clinic waiting rooms will be closed to visitors. Caregivers will be asked to wait in their cars pending notification that the patient is ready to leave.

In addition to travel and symptoms, patient temperatures will be screened at all Beaufort Memorial locations.

Several new measures to protect patients, staff and community members had already been implemented:

– Hospital visitor hours end at 5 p.m.

– Online Check-In for the Emergency Center is suspended. Patients who need emergency care should call 9-1-1 or proceed immediately to the nearest ER.

– Beaufort Memorial Express Care & Occupational Health waiting areas will be closed. Patients visiting the Beaufort and Bluffton Express Care locations will be asked to check in at the desk and return to their vehicle to wait to be seen by a provider. No visitors will be allowed into the clinics.

– Visitors will not be permitted in the hospital, except under the following specific circumstances: Labor and Delivery – One designated visitor per patient; Pediatric Unit – One designated visitor per patient; Patients requiring assistance and end-of-life care will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

For information and updates about Beaufort Memorial, visit www.beaufortmemorial.org, call 843-522-5560 for recorded updates and access to staff, or email questions to healthupdates@bmhsc.org.

Beaufort County School District revises free student meal distribution

Following an initial week that saw more than 17,000 free student meals distributed county-wide, the Beaufort County School District today announced plans to consolidate breakfast and lunch pick-ups during the coronavirus-related school shut-down.

Starting Monday, March 23, any child younger than 18 can get two free meals – a breakfast and a lunch – each weekday using a single trip. The free meals can be picked up from 9 a.m. until noon at 12 sites scattered through Beaufort County as well as through a network of 20-minute school bus stops.

The revised schedule of bus stops has been posted on the school district’s website (beaufortschools.net) and social media platforms.

“This new procedure will make meal pick-ups safer and more convenient,” Superintendent Frank Rodriguez said in a news release. “Parents and students will have to make only one trip per day instead of two, and they also will shorten the amount of time they’re exposed to possible illness.”

Meals are prepared and transported to 12 sites across the county: Battery Creek High, Beaufort High, Beaufort Middle, Bluffton High, Hilton Head Island High, James J. Davis Early Childhood Center, Okatie Elementary, Red Cedar Elementary, St. Helena Elementary, Whale Branch Early College High, Whale Branch Middle School and the Port Royal YMCA.

Drive-through meal pick-ups will now be available in the bus rider drop-offs at each location each weekday from 9 a.m. until noon. Students must be present at the time of pick up, and all food will be “grab-and-go,” with no food consumed on site.

The revised procedures are designed to maintain safe physical distances between parents, students, food service workers and bus drivers.

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