By Patrick Phillips|March 17, 2020 at 12:42 PM EDT - Updated March 17 at 8:00 PM
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Tri-County leaders urged people to follow guidelines to prevent possible exposure of the novel coronavirus, showing a stance of unity at a Tuesday news conference.
Officials have announced a citizens information line available at 843-746-3900.
Charleston County Council Chairman Elliott Summey, joined by city and county leaders, called it a message of solidarity.
“We’re here working together as one voice as we always do here in the Charleston Tri-County area with Dorchester County and Berkeley County as well, to help protect and provide for the safety and welfare of all of our citizens in the Tri-County area,” Summey said.
Summey said Charleston County sanitation services, including garbage collection and the county’s recycling program.
“We are in a health issue, sanitation, is a must at this time, so we’re going to continue to provide those services as much as possible," he said. “Charleston county government is going to continue to function in some way, shape or form.”
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said they will follow exactly what the federal government and the state government passes down for them to do.
“And we will move forward,” he said. “We are at full service and our police agency and our fire, we’re just like any other day.”
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg stressed the pandemic is a very fluid situation.
“I mean, just by the time that the city of Charleston had voted and approved an ordinance that restricted gatherings of more than 50 people, just an hour or two later, the Centers for Disease Control now makes a recommendation to limit it to 10,” he said.
Tecklenburg said he believes the public will see increasing restrictions and reminders of social distancing.
“We do not want to become a hot spot,” Tecklenburg said. “We want to at all costs avoid becoming the next Italy here in South Carolina. And we do that by reducing the exposure and reducing the change of contagion of the virus by the general population. It comes with inconveniences for everyone. It will come with economic loss, particularly for small businesses that we will put forward loans and other programs are trying to help those businesses and their employees as well.”
Tecklenburg said the bottom line is “we’re all in this together” in preventing the area from becoming a hot spot for contagion.
“There will be some short term pain, but the long term gain will be great, because we really will be more resilient and our economy will bounce back faster,” Tecklenburg said.
Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie said his town is operating on OPCON-2 and under a civil emergency proclamation Haynie issued Monday.
"We're operating with two priority objectives. First is the continuity of critical services which is includes law enforcement, fire and sanitation. And second, to limit exposure to staff, and to our community," Haynie said. "This protects our critical healthcare infrastructure."
He said the town has positioned itself to be proactive but stressed that it is a fluid situation.
“We may question whether we have done too much, but God help us if we do too little,” Haynie said. “Because we will evaluate these actions by two things either dollars lost or lives loss and for me that decision is clear.”
The news briefing came hours after Roper St. Francis Healthcare confirmed Tuesday morning two patients tested positive for the virus. One patient was evaluated in an emergency departments. But results of the patient’s test came back positive after the patient already had left South Carolina to go home to another state. The patient was released with appropriate isolation precautions.
The second patient has been admitted to one of Roper St. Francis Healthcare’s hospitals and is in isolation in stable condition. This patient’s health is improving and has not required ICU-level care.
RAW VIDEO: Tri-County leaders hold news briefing on COVID-19
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