COVID-19: Campus Health

The health and safety of our community is our main priority. Learn more about COVID-19 and not only how to prevent personal illness, but also how you can help maintain a healthier Gamecock community.

Campus Health Notice

UPDATED April 2, 2020, at 5 p.m.

On the evening of Tuesday, March 31, the University of South Carolina announced that it is aware of 40 students that have tested positive for COVID-19. Five of these students live on campus and 35 off campus. Of these, 14 have recovered. Also, 4 faculty and 2 staff members have tested positive. The university asks students, faculty and staff to report if they have tested positive for COVID-19 by calling the coronavirus phone bank at 803-576-8511. Students can login to MyHealthSpace and send a secure message to the Primary Care Team Nurse. The university will protect your privacy and not share your personal health information.

On Monday, March 16, the City of Columbia declared a State of Emergency in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. A citywide 11 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew went into effect on Wednesday, March 18. 

On March 17, the Governor of South Carolina announced the closure of dine-in services in restaurants and bars. Also, all schools across the state will be closed from March 16 through March 31. The closure includes K-12 schools, as well as universities, colleges and technical colleges.

On March 24, the Governor of South Carolina announced that K-12 schools will likely be closed until April 30.

On March 29, the City of Columbia's 'Stay Home, Stay Safe' ordinance took effect and will last 14 days.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reports that there are 1,554 people diagnosed with COVID-19 in the state of South Carolina. 

There have been more than 1,007,800 people infected worldwide (more than 743,300 are active).

In the U.S. there have been more than 240,300 people infected with COVID-19 (more than 224,200 are active). As the U.S. increases testing capacity, the number of cases in the U.S. will continue to rise. Also, the number of recovered patients should increase as the illness runs its course.

Visit the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) web page for additional information about COVID-19 and its effects in South Carolina.

 

Coronavirus FAQs

It is a new strain of the coronavirus first detected in China in December 2019 that causes mild to moderate upper and lower respiratory tract illness. In some cases, it can cause severe complications like pneumonia. Early symptoms can be similar to a common cold or the flu and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. So far, the Novel Coronavirus is not as virulent as previous new coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS.

One contracts the Novel Coronavirus from water droplets expelled when a sick person sneezes or coughs. Also, it can spread when one touches a contaminated surface like a doorknob or a handrail and then touches one’s eyes, nose or mouth.

To prevent the spread of the flu or the Novel Coronavirus, follow these simple precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
    Get a flu vaccine.

In many cultures, people choose to wear face masks to prevent catching an illness. It does not necessarily mean that person is ill. If you see other students wearing face masks, it is not cause for alarm or unease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you wear a face mask only if you are infected with Novel Coronavirus. While wearing a facemask is commonplace in many cultures, it is not commonplace in the U.S. In American culture, wearing a facemask signifies that you are carrying an infectious disease. The University of South Carolina recommends that you follow CDC guidelines, as well as your own comfort levels regarding whether or not to wear a face mask.

We are following all CDC guidelines for the surveillance, prevention, education, diagnosis and treatment of the Novel Coronavirus. Additionally, we are working with campus and community partners to monitor the situation and provide information, which is compiled on the university's COVID-19 landing page.

If you have traveled from a country with a CDC Travel Warning - Level 3 or have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days and are experiencing Novel Coronavirus symptoms, you should contact health services at 803-777-3175. It is recommended that those who think they may have been exposed call ahead before going to see a doctor or emergency room.

Students, faculty or staff traveling to a country with a CDC Travel Warning - Level 3 or an area experiencing widespread or sustained transmission of COVID-19 will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days upon return at their permanent residence before they can return to campus.

The CDC recommends avoiding nonessential travel to all countries under a CDC Travel Warning - Level 3. We ask Study Abroad participants to contact their sponsoring department for information and schedule an appointment with Student Health Services Travel Clinic for the latest health information before traveling to any destination. 

The CDC reports that because of the poor survivability of the COVID-19 virus on surfaces, there is very low risk of spread from packages or products shipped from China. Currently, there is no evidence supporting the transmission of the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 by imported packages or products. 

 

Supporting Your Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 has and is likely to affect people from many areas of South Carolina, the United States and the world. Do not attach it to any ethnicity or nationality. Be empathetic to all those who are affected, in and from any country. People who are affected by COVID-19 have not done anything wrong. They deserve our support, compassion and kindness.

Limit watching, reading or listening to information that causes you to feel anxious or distressed. The near-constant stream of news reports about the pandemic can cause anyone to feel worried. Seek information at specific times during the day from trusted sources and mainly to take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and loved ones. Get information at regular intervals from the World Health Organization (who.int), Centers for Disease Control (cdc.gov), local health authorities’ platforms such as S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (scdhec.gov) or the UofSC Novel Coronavirus website (go.sc.edu/coronavirus). Knowing the facts can help minimize fears.

Assisting others in their time of need can benefit the person receiving support as well as the helper. For example, check-in by phone on neighbors or people in your community who may need some extra assistance. Working together as one community can help to create solidarity in addressing COVID-19 together.

Be prepared and know in advance where and how to get practical help if needed, like calling an Uber or Taxi, having food delivered and requesting medical care. Make sure you have up to two weeks of all your regular medicines that you may require.

Keep regular routines and schedules as much as possible or help create new ones in a new environment, including regular exercising, cleaning, daily chores, singing, painting, schoolwork or other activities.

Stay connected and maintain your social networks. Even when isolated, try as much as possible to keep your personal daily routines or create new routines. If health authorities have recommended limiting your physical social contact to contain the outbreak, you can stay connected via e-mail, social media, video conference and telephone.

If you are helping others, don’t forget about your own needs and feelings. Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly, keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy food. Keep things in perspective. Public health agencies and experts in all countries are working on the outbreak to ensure the availability of the best care to those affected.

 

Learn more about mental health during the pandemic [pdf] from the World Health Organization.

 

Self-Quarantine FAQs for Students

A self-quarantine is when you take personal responsibility and voluntarily remove yourself from public areas for 14 days. Do not visit campus, residence halls, grocery stores, pharmacies or churches while on self-quarantine. Students are asked to self-quarantine to protect their friends, family, classmates and others from potential exposure to the novel coronavirus.

At your permanent home residence. You should have a separate room where you can separate yourself from family and friends. Make sure there is someone at the home that can help you with basic needs and support like groceries and prescription medicines.

Stay in your room as much as possible. Try to avoid others in the household – including pets! Wear a mask when you go into communal areas in the home. Disinfect high-touch surfaces like remote controls, keyboards, doorknobs, countertops and bathroom fixtures.

Continue taking the classes as instructed, your coursework should be available online or contact your professors for instructions; look for messages from the university or professors; monitor your health regularly and watch for symptoms like cough or difficulty breathing; take your temperature frequently; communicate with friends and family using video chats, voice calls or text messages; catch up on your favorite shows on streaming; read books; exercise; etc.

If you become sick while in self-quarantine, call your medical provider and seek advice immediately. Contact their office beforehand to let them know you have been under self-quarantine for possible exposure to the novel coronavirus. Wear a mask on your way to the clinic or hospital. If you require an ambulance, let the EMTs know that you are in self-quarantine for the novel coronavirus.

 

Health Care Resources

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, including respiratory or flulike symptoms such as fever and/or cough:

The South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority (PEBA) wants to make sure that its State Health Plan members, including its older members and those with underlying health conditions, have an adequate supply of their medication during this time. Typically, you can refill your medication when 25 to 35 percent of your current prescription is remaining.

If you are concerned about your supply of medications due to COVID-19, you can contact your pharmacist to obtain an additional 30-day supply outside of the normal refill procedures. Please note that regulations pertaining to dispensing controlled substances still apply. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, pharmacies may be waiving charges for home delivery of prescription medication. Check with your network pharmacy to see if this service is being offered. You can find a network pharmacy by logging in to your Express Scripts account.

If your network pharmacy does not have your medication available, you may also contact Express Scripts at 855-612-3128 to request a supply of your prescription be filled by Express Scripts Home Delivery and mailed to you.

COVID-19 Tests

The State Health Plan will cover testing to diagnose COVID-19 at no member cost when prescribed according to guidelines set by public health authorities. Any services associated with treatment will be covered following normal Plan provisions.

Counseling

Clinicians are available 24/7/365 at 800-633-3353, where our EAP vendor is offering virtual, telephonic and face-to-face appointments. 

Due to COVID-19 and the various effects in each area of the world, face-to-face availability will be determined based on location.

Articles, Webinars and More

There are many resources about COVID-19 available now through the Work-Life Portal. To access:

Log into mygroup.com 
Username: USC
Password: guest

To help support you further, an online seminar "Keep Calm and Carry-on – Maintaining Your Composure Amidst the Pandemic Panic" will be available starting Saturday, March 21. The seminar will cover: 

  • Strategies to tackle feelings of anxiety and stress
  • Practical techniques for working from home
  • Ways to address signs of panic in the workplace
  • Supporting your children
  • When to reach out for further help and support