Greenwood County Emergency Management Coordinator George McKinney gave a Coronavirus update at the Public Administrators meeting Wednesday at Upper Savannah COG.
“The biggest things we can do right now are education and preparation,” McKinney told the seven administrators who attended.
At the time McKinney was speaking, there were 60 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in the United States, and nine known deaths. Almost all the deaths were of elderly with underlying health conditions.
There were no known cases in South Carolina at that time, McKinney said.
“It’s a brand-new virus that we haven’t seen before. There are still a lot of unknowns,” McKinney said.
Focusing on “what we do know,” McKinney said, “The majority, 80 percent, of the individuals (worldwide) have very mild symptoms. Temperatures below 100 degrees, coughing, shortness of breath… the ones that aren’t (with mild symptoms) are over the age of 60 and have underlying health issues such as cardiovascular, respiratory.”
He said that worldwide, fewer than one percent who have contracted the virus under the age of 50 have died.
“If you are infected, you are not contagious until you start showing the symptoms of coughing, sneezing, etc.,” McKinney said. “That is very different from the flu. If you have the flu, even though you may not be showing symptoms, you can spread it. That’s a good thing (about Coronavirus). If you do have these (Coronavirus) symptoms, quarantine yourself immediately and contact your doctor.”
McKinney recommended washing your hands often. Use hand sanitizer, if you can find it.
“If you can find it on the shelf in Greenwood County, good luck,” he said.
Preparation for avoiding the spread of the disease if it comes to South Carolina can include wearing gloves if exchanging paperwork or money with the public. McKinney suggested cross-training for critical positions if someone has to be out of work.
McKinney shared the Department of Health and Environmental Control number 1-855-472-3432 with the administrators for more information about the virus.
Census 2020 was also discussed during the meeting. A letter will be mailed to residences beginning this month to invite them to fill out Census forms online showing their information effective April 1, 2020. A second letter will be sent if there is no reply, and a third letter with a Census form if still no reply. After that, if still no reply, a Census worker will visit that residence.
Administrators expressed concern about the lack of publicity about the Census and possible lack of awareness within the community. Census counts are crucial for federal funds and representation.
USCOG Government Services Director Rick Green said he will be assisting by using his laptop in senior centers to help seniors fill out forms. Upper Savannah Workforce Development Administrator Ann Skinner said SC Works Center computers in all of USCOG’s counties will be available to fill out Census forms.
Skinner informed the administrators that the Upper Savannah Regional Job Fair will be held at Piedmont Technical College from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., March 19. Other job fairs in different counties have also been scheduled.
Other topics discussed included the Capital Sales Tax referendum in Greenwood County and state retirement benefits for workers who change state jobs.