Charleston leaders and doctors warn of "steep price" for ignoring COVID-19 dangers, roll out four-color alert system 

MUSC introduces COVID-19 warning level alert system

click to enlarge MUSC prepared for a surge of coronavirus patients in late April

Sam Spence

MUSC prepared for a surge of coronavirus patients in late April

Health, business and education leaders from around the Lowcountry made a plea with the public to follow COVID-19 safety recommendations during a virtual press conference today, rolling out a four-stage alert system they hope will drive home the message. "We're at a tipping point right now," said Dr. Anthony Jackson of Roper Healthcare.

COVID-19 has grown faster in South Carolina than any individual country, according to data analyzed by The New York Times. As of Thursday, over 50,000 cases of novel coronavirus have been confirmed in S.C. along with almost 900 deaths.

Charleston County has the second-highest rate of COVID-19 cases in the state, with 6,698 positive tests and 51 confirmed deaths.

MUSC President David Cole said the new COVID-19 warning level alert system can raise awareness and encourage good choices.

"COVID-19 safety recommendations have been embraced by some and disregarded by many," Cole said. "Choosing to disregard critical guidance at this point in time is going to exact a steep price in the very near future that no one wants to pay."

The Charleston area is at a code orange level, according to the alert system, meaning there are "high levels or rapid increases in transmission."

  • MUSC

Health experts continue to recommend wearing a face mask, washing hands frequently and keeping about 6 ft. from others to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Catherine Dority, the director of marketing for the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, encouraged businesses to embrace safety. "The time to make the right choice is now," she said.

Gerrita Postlewait, superintendent Charleston County schools, indicated safety practices may be used to reopen schools. "Our children need to get back to the normalcy of schooling," she said, "Both for academic reasons and for their social and emotional wellbeing."

The Charleston area is tracking toward code red by late July or early August, according to Cole. "That would mean significant outbreaks are present and worsening, our testing and contact tracing capacity is strained or exceeded, hospitals are full or almost full and may be unable to care for the volume of patients."

Cole warned this will erase the gains made through the shutdown, there will be "unnecessary death and illness" and children will not be able to go back to school in the fall. 

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