MUSC Health biweekly COVID-19 report (July 9)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (July 9, 2020) – At MUSC Health, the safety of patients, families, care team members, students, faculty and staff remains the number one priority. The MUSC Public Affairs and Media Relations (PAMR) department issues regular COVID-19 updates on Monday and Thursday of each week. Please read the report in its entirety; information can change quickly.  

The Path Forward / Recovery

Business, education and health care leaders hosted a virtual press briefing today to underscore the urgency of the situation in the Charleston area as growth rates and numbers of COVID-19 infections continue to increase. David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, MUSC president, introduced the “Charleston Area COVID-19 Warning Level” alert system as a resource for local media, individuals, businesses and the public at large to use daily in assessing where the community stands in the fight against COVID-19. Speakers for this event included Gen. Hank Taylor (One Region Chairman), Cole, Lane Ballard (Vice President and General Manager of the 787 Program and Boeing South Carolina Site Leader), Gerrita Postlewait, Ph.D. (Charleston County School District Superintendent), and Helen Hill (Charleston Visitor’s Bureau CEO).

Similar in concept to air quality reports used daily by media outlets in metro areas around the country, the system includes Red, Orange, Yellow and Green warning levels, with explanations of what those levels mean about the presence of COVID-19 in the area and what recommended actions the community should take. This system is supported by the MUSC COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project. Current warning levels can be accessed here.

FOR UPDATED DATA: The MUSC COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project is a digital dashboard that provides leading indicators related to the COVID-19 epidemic to enable informed decisions. An Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) chart from the website illustrates the level of the expected impact in South Carolina, and experts will continue to monitor the data and make adjustments to operations, as needed. MUSC’s goal is to deliver health care in a safe and reliable environment, while pushing forward to enable a rapid and successful revitalization of the economy. Current situation assessments for MUSC Health – Charleston (Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties), MUSC Health Florence, and MUSC Health Lancaster divisions are available on this site. 


General information: or 

Information about testing options:

MUSC Virtual Urgent Care:

MUSC COVID-19 diagnostic testing 

Rural and underserved communities experience disparities in access to COVID-19 screening, testing, prevention and treatment in South Carolina and nationally. MUSC Health, in partnership with the state legislature, is setting up mobile screening and collection sites in rural and underserved areas. Tents will be set up outside in designated locations to collect COVID-19 respiratory specimens from both walk-up and drive-through patients. Prescreening is not required, and the cost is free to patients. Patients will be contacted within 5 -7 days with the results of their test, if not sooner. Patients are asked to bring photo identification and an insurance card if they have one. Insurance is not required to be seen, however, the CARES Act does require MUSC to bill insurance providers if patients do have insurance. Patients may email if they have questions regarding their results. If they do not have an email address, they may call 843-985-8888.

The mobile setup allows care providers to rotate sites, reaching underserved and rural populations experiencing barriers to health care access for COVID-19 screening. Collectively, the MUSC Health ambulatory, telehealth, information solutions, emergency management and operations, finance, laboratory and leadership teams were first in the nation to launch a combined virtual urgent care platform and drive-through specimen collection site; now, they’re taking a version of this successful model to more communities that need it.

Sites may close early if weather conditions become unsafe for care team members, or if patient volume exceeds reasonable wait times. 

The following locations will offer sites at these dates and times: 

AIKEN: The previously announced site that was set to open Friday, July 10 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Oakland Windsor Elementary School, 3773 Charleston Hwy., Aiken, S.C. 29801 has been canceled for this week and efforts are underway to reschedule this site as soon as possible.

CHARLESTON TRI-COUNTY AREA/ NORTH CHARLESTON: In partnership with SCDHEC and the Fetter Health Care Network,this site will open Friday, July 10, and Saturday, July 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Trident Technical College, 7000 Rivers Ave., North Charleston, S.C. 29406.

CHARLESTON TRI-COUNTY AREA/ JOHN’S ISLAND: This mobile site will open Tuesday, July 14, and Thursday, July 16 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Haut Gap Middle School, 1861 Bohicket Rd., John’s Island, S.C. 29455.

CONWAY: In collaboration with Health Care Partners, this site will open Thursday, July 16, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., located at the Conway Recreation Center, 1515 Mill Pond Rd., Conway, S.C. 29527.

FLORENCE: The next mobile site location will open Monday through Friday (July 13 – July 17) from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Cedar Tower, 121 E. Cedar St., Florence, S.C. 29506. 

HAMPTON: This site will open Thursday, July 16 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hampton Elementary School, 505 Hoover St. S., Hampton, S.C. 29924. 

KERSHAW: This site will open Wednesday, July 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at First Baptist Church Kershaw, 210 N. Matson St., Kershaw, S.C. 29067. 

KINGSTREE: This mobile site will open Tuesday, July 14 and Thursday, July 16 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and will be located at Kingstree Senior High School, 616 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Kingstree, S.C. 29556. 

LANCASTER: This site will open Friday, July 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Lancaster Community Center, 508 East Meeting St., Lancaster, S.C. 29720.

ORANGEBURG: In partnership with Orangeburg County, this site will open Monday, July 13 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Wednesday July 15 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Orangeburg Fairgrounds, 350 Magnolia St., Orangeburg, S.C. 29115.

SPARTANBURG: In partnership with Spartanburg Regional Medical Center, this site will open Monday, July 13 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Tuesday, July 14 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Macedonia Baptist Church, 502 S. Daniel Morgan Ave., Spartanburg, S.C. 29306.

SUMTER/REMBERT: This site will open Wednesday, July 15, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Rafting Creek Elementary School, 4100 Hwy 261 North, Rembert, S.C. 29128. 

SUMTER/DALZELL: This site will open Friday, July 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Hillcrest Middle School, 4355 Peach Orchard Rd., Dalzell S.C. 29040. 

In reporting on these important developments for these local communities, individuals (elected officials, community leaders, city employees, etc.) and media outlets are asked to adhere to these basic rules while engaging with these locations during operational hours:

  1. NO FILMING OR PHOTOGRAPHY INSIDE THE SITE while patients are present (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.). This is to protect patient privacy while undergoing specimen collection and for the safety of our care team members. The team needs to perform this service safely when vehicles are present. 

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued additional guidance on May 5 to covered health care providers (such as MUSC Health) that the HIPAA Privacy Rule does not permit them to give media and film crews access to facilities where patients’ protected health information (PHI) will be accessible without the patients’ prior authorization. The guidance explains that even during the current COVID-19 public health emergency, covered health care providers are still required to obtain a valid HIPAA authorization from each patient whose PHI will be accessible to the media before the media is given access to that PHI. Due to the complicated logistics and potential safety issues involved in trying to obtain this kind of consent in real-time at a walk-up or drive-through mobile collection site, there will be NO PHOTOGRAPHY OR VIDEO ALLOWED “INSIDE THE FENCE” DURING HOURS OF OPERATION AT ANY MUSC-AFFILIATED MOBILE COLLECTION SITE.

2. We ask that every effort be made to consider patient privacy, and request that photography or video taken from outside the site not involve real-time aerial, close-up/identifying or magnified lens use while patients are present.

3. We ask that every effort be made to follow all security protocols for the site so that patients, care team members and media professionals stay safe. Those who cannot follow these protocols will be asked to leave the area as appropriate. 

4. We ask that all MUSC Health team member interviews related to this topic take place when the site is not in operation (before opening, during an individual’s lunch break or after closing via phone or Zoom at a later time) so that our team can focus on safety, patient care and making sure that things are going as smoothly as possible. All interviews should be coordinated through MUSC PR offices and are dependent on site location and care team member availability. 

MUSC Health antibody testing

MUSC Health is offering voluntary COVID-19 serologic testing to care team members, first responders in Charleston, Florence and Lancaster divisions and within those local communities. This service was expanded for broader community access at the beginning of June, and is available through 

The serology test is a blood test that looks for the presence of antibodies, which are specific /proteins made in response to infections. Antibodies can be found in the blood and in other tissues of those who are tested after an infection. The antibodies detected by this test indicate that a person had an antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), whether symptoms developed from the infection or the infected person was asymptomatic. These antibodies may help provide protection from future infection as well as identify those still at risk. 

Antibody testing for COVID-19 is in its early phases. Hundreds of companies have developed these tests and more are coming on the market every day. There is no perfect test, but MUSC Health is committed to offering the best ones available. As MUSC Health validates and makes COVID-19 antibody testing widely available, it is important to make sure individuals and the media understand what the test results mean.

  • A positive result means that there is a high chance that an individual had a previous COVID-19 infection.
  • Positive results do not establish proof of long-lasting immunity for any future COVID-19 infection. It is likely that an individual may have some immunity, but we do not yet know the level of immunity given the presence of antibodies. We also do not know how individual characteristics might influence this immunity.
  • Therefore, positive results should NOT be considered a reason for individuals to stop protecting themselves from COVID-19 (at work or home) in terms of social distancing practices when possible, good health hygiene, use of PPE in high-risk environments, etc.

For populations, the test is very useful to measure how much COVID-19 is occurring locally by comparing how many people have antibodies now versus later, as COVID-19 becomes more common in South Carolina. 

For individuals, it is difficult to make firm conclusions and work-home decisions, based on a single antibody test. However, it is important to start testing now, knowing that tests will improve over time. In addition, our knowledge will improve on which antibodies protect people from getting COVID-19, and how long these antibodies are likely to last in the body. As we are able to document who has had prior exposure to COVID-19, we will be able to understand whether individuals are at risk for developing a second infection and its severity.

Care team members or first responders who wish to be tested can use MUSC Virtual Urgent Care ( to complete a COVID-19 (coronavirus) visit. Select “yes” on the additional information question and enter #covidimmunity in the comments section. Virtual Care will determine medical eligibility for serologic testing.

Candidates for the serology test should schedule blood draw appointments through MUSC MyChart. Results will be available in MyChart within 48-72 hours. Testing is available at select locations in the Charleston, Florence, and Lancaster divisions and by appointment only.  Repeat testing, for those who test negative, will be offered no more than every 30 days for qualified candidates. The cost of the test will be billed to insurance carriers. Based on the recent CARES Act, insured patients will not have an outstanding balance for this test..

MUSC COVID-19 follow-up story ideas:

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Basic stats / COVID-19 positive cases 

Previously reported data points, such as the number of telehealth screenings, total number of specimens collected at the West Ashley specimen collection site, or the number of COVID-19 positive MUSC care team members are available upon request. 

  • Total number of COVID-19 community screening tests completed by MUSC Health-Charleston: 72,253 (MUSC Health system-wide: 82,554) 
  • Total Number of COVID-19 positive greater Charleston community screening tests: 5,506 (MUSC Health system-wide: 6,523) 
    • It is important to understand, and to avoid duplication in reporting, that these cases are reported to, and included in, the DHEC statewide COVID-19 numbers.
    • The majority of these individuals may not require hospitalization in a South Carolina hospital. 
  • Number of COVID-19 inpatients currently in the hospital (MUSC Health-Charleston): 95
    • MUSC Health monitors this number to determine that we have current and future capacity in terms of health care providers, supplies, ventilators and PPE. Please see the IHME graph here. These numbers are consistent with the modeling and expectation that MUSC Health will have appropriate resources to manage these patients. 
    • Of the 95 patients currently in the MUSC Health-Charleston location, 28 are in MUSC Health COVID-19 intensive care, with 22 of the 95 total inpatients receiving ventilator care for disease progression at this time.

COVID-19 capacity, supplies and equipment statuses have remained “GREEN” since April 13.

For a current list of supply requests, please visit this page.  

For specific information about MUSC Health Florence or Marion Medical Centers, please contact Kim Geiger at For information about MUSC Health Chester or Lancaster Medical Centers, please contact Ashley Shannon at


About MUSC 

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the oldest medical school in the South, as well as the state’s only integrated, academic health sciences center with a unique charge to serve the state through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and nearly 800 residents in six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. The state’s leader in obtaining biomedical research funds, in fiscal year 2019, MUSC set a new high, bringing in more than $284 million. For information on academic programs, visit

As the clinical health system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality patient care available, while training generations of competent, compassionate health care providers to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Comprising some 1,600 beds, more than 100 outreach sites, the MUSC College of Medicine, the physicians’ practice plan, and nearly 275 telehealth locations, MUSC Health owns and operates eight hospitals situated in Charleston, Chester, Florence, Lancaster and Marion counties. In 2019, for the fifth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit

MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of $3.2 billion. The more than 17,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers and scientists who deliver groundbreaking education, research, technology and patient care.