COVID-19 Background Information


The CDC has confirmed multiple cases of COVID-19 detected and tested in the country through public health surveillance systems, including cases in which the virus had spread between two people. It is likely there will be more cases reported.

  • Imported cases of COVID-19 in travelers has been detected in the U.S.
  • Person-to-person spread with this virus in the U.S. was first reported among close contacts with travelers who returned from Wuhan, China.
  • Previously, all confirmed U.S. cases had been associated with travel to Wuhan, China, where an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by this novel coronavirus has been ongoing since December 2019.
  • Cases have been identified in the U.S. that do not have a history of recent travel or a known source of exposure to the virus, suggesting they are due to community spread of the illness.
  • Community spread of cases of COVID-19 is now occurring in a number of countries.
  • During the week of Feb. 23, 2020, CDC reported community spread of the virus in California (in two places), Oregon, and Washington. Community spread in Washington resulted in the first death in the U.S. from COVID-19, as well as the first reported case of COVID-19 in a health care worker, and the first potential outbreak in a long-term care facility. For updates on national case counts from the CDC, click here.
  • On Jan. 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency for the U.S.
  • Also on Jan. 31, the President signed a “Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus."
  • Investigations are underway to determine if others were potentially exposed to the virus.
  • On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization characterizes COVID-19 as a pandemic.
  • Click here to see the highlights of DHEC response activities.

CDC Outbreak Response Activities

  • CDC and DHEC are mounting an aggressive public health response strategy to identify potential cases early, assure they receive appropriate care, and prevent additional spread when possible.
  • The CDC and U.S. Customs and Border Protection are implementing enhanced health screenings to detect travelers with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing when entering the U.S. from some countries.
  • CDC has issued Health Alerts, including guidance on key matters such as how to identify individuals who should be considered persons under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19 infection and reporting to local/state health departments. DHEC also shared the CDC’s alert with those in South Carolina enrolled to receive Health Alerts.
  • CDC has developed guidance outlining appropriate precautions for healthcare workers caring for ill patients in health care settings and homes of people with COVID-19 who do not require hospitalization.
  • On Jan. 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency for the U.S.
  • On February 28, 2020, CDC and DHEC issued a Health Alert Network (HAN): Update and Interim Guidance on Outbreak of COVID-19.

How CDC and DHEC are working together

CDC has been proactively preparing for the introduction of COVID-19 in the U.S. for weeks, including alerting clinicians about how to detect, report and diagnose COVID-19 and prevent spread and providing guidance for travelers.

As the state’s lead public health agency, DHEC is taking proactive steps to be prepared for potential cases in South Carolina, including remaining updated on and following the latest CDC recommendations related to surveillance, evaluation, and response.



Community Survey COVID-19 Statewide