Four cases of COVID-19 in Laurens County since Saturdays were confirmed by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) over the weekend and on Wednesday.
The cases were confirmed as DHEC continued to announce laboratory results. The first confirmed case in the county was reported Saturday. One additional case was added Sunday, a third on Monday and a fourth on Wednesday afternoon.
The newest case is from a Clinton zip code, while other cases were reported from Mountville, Gray Court and Laurens, according to the DHEC website and local sources.
Meanwhile, the number of statewide cases grew by more than 150 between Monday and Tuesday afternoon, bringing the total number in South Carolina to 1,083 with 22 deaths. By Wednesday afternoon that had increased to 1,293 with 26 deaths. There are no deaths yet reported for Laurens County. The total number of cases has nearly doubled since Saturday.
“We want to remind everyone that these are not simply numbers, these are people,” said Dr. Linda Bell, state epidemiologist and DHEC’s director of the Bureau of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control at a Tuesday news conference. “In some way or another, the spread of COVID-19 is going to affect each and every one of us. … Our hope is to minimize the risk for everyone.”
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced an executive order to close non-essential businesses at the news conference.
Some “non-essential” businesses, which include salons, gyms and some retail stores, in Laurens County had already closed. The YMCAs in Laurens and Clinton announced their closures more than a week ago. Others have shortened their hours of operation.
Under the order, local restaurants will still be allowed to operate with takeout and drive-thru service, but residents are still not allowed to dine out or congregate in large numbers per executive orders from McMaster.
“We are still asking the public to continue to follow the preventive guidelines from the CDC and SC DHEC,” Avery said in a release.
Those who are sick are asked to self-quarantine. Increased testing is available locally at Prisma Health, Self Regional facilities and some other facilities and by referral from family or personal physicians.
Clinton Mayor Bob McLean and Laurens Mayor Nathan Seen continue to be concerned about the spread of the virus, agreeing that some businesses need to close to prevent further infections – even if that is a painful proposition.
“I think this is serious and some are taking it seriously and others are not,” McLean said. “That’s the problem. But it will be hard on our businesses.”
“The reason the federal (financial assistance) programs are there is so that businesses can close and prevent infection,” Senn said. “Some may remain open though many should not, (because) the more effective we are at controlling the spread of infection now, the more quickly this pandemic will be defeated.”
The following are lists of non-essential businesses that are to remain closed under executive order:
Entertainment venues and facilities:
- Night clubs
- Bowling alleys
- Concert venues
- Theaters, auditoriums, and performing arts centers
- Tourist attractions (including museums, aquariums, and planetariums)
- Indoor children’s play areas (excluding daycare facilities)
- Adult entertainment venues
- Bingo halls
- Venues operated by social clubs
Recreational and athletic facilities and activities:
- Fitness and exercise centers and commercial gyms
- Spas and public or commercial swimming pools
- Group exercise facilities, to include yoga, barre, and spin studios or facilities
- Spectator sports
- Sports that involve interaction with another person in close proximity and within less than six (6) feet of another person
- Activities that require the use of shared sporting apparatus and equipment
- Activities on commercial or public playground equipment
Close-contact service providers:
- Barber shops
- Hair salons
- Waxing salons
- Threading salons
- Nail salons and spas
- Body-art facilities and tattoo services
- Tanning salons
- Massage-therapy establishments and massage services
(Staff writer Judith Brown contributed to this story.)