Frequently Asked Questions (COVID-19)

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When getting tested for COVID-19, confirm with the testing staff how and when you will receive your results.

Have a general question about COVID-19? Call the DHEC Care Line at 
1-855-472-3432 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday-Friday.

For mental health or substance abuse services related to COVID-19 call the statewide support line 24/7
at 1-844-724-6737 (1-844-SC-HOPES).

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported, ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms of COVID-19 include but aren't limited to:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

What is physical distancing?

On May 13, 2021, the CDC provided updated guidance, including that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. Unvaccinated people need to continue to wear masks, physically distance and follow all other disease prevention methods. You can get vaccinated today at a location near you.

Physical distancing, or social distancing, is keeping at least six feet of space between you and others to help prevent disease spread. 

Should I wear a face mask?

On May 13, 2021, the CDC provided updated guidance, including that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. Unvaccinated people need to continue to wear masks, physically distance and follow all other disease prevention methods. You can get vaccinated today at a location near you.

What is quarantine?

Quarantine is used to separate people who are close contacts of someone with a contagious disease, like COVID-19, from others for a period of time to see if they become sick. This is a method to prevent the spread of disease. When someone is quarantining, they should stay home and avoid contact with other people until the quarantine period is over. This includes people in their household as much as it is possible. The latest COVID-19 quarantine guidance from the CDC is available here.

  • Fully vaccinated people with COVID-19 symptoms

Although the risk that fully vaccinated people could become infected with COVID-19 is low, any fully vaccinated person who experiences symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should isolate themselves from others, be clinically evaluated for COVID-19, and tested for SARS-CoV-2 if indicated. The symptomatic fully vaccinated person should inform their healthcare provider of their vaccination status at the time of presentation to care.

  • Fully vaccinated people with no COVID-like symptoms following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19

Most fully vaccinated people with no COVID-like symptoms do not need to quarantine, be restricted from work, or be tested following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, as their risk of infection is low. However, they should still monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following an exposure.

What does it mean to be a close contact of someone with COVID-19?

Close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of someone who tested positive for COVID-19 for at least several minutes (usually about 15 minutes). The virus is spread primarily from person to person through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.

I am a close contact to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. What should I do?

A person who is sick with COVID-19 is most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to others just before they have symptoms and at the beginning of their symptoms. That is why anyone who is sick should avoid contact with others and stay home unless leaving to get medical care.  It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.  That is why it is so important to wash your hands often.  If you are a close contact to a person with COVID-19, it is recommended that you self-quarantine and stay away from other people as much as possible for ten (10) days from the last date of exposure to the person. It is recommended that you get tested immediately, even if you have no symptoms. You may get tested again 5-7 days after your last exposure and, if negative, you may end quarantine after completing 7 days of quarantine. However, you should still monitor for symptoms for 14 days. If you test positive for COVID-19, you should isolate at home (see above).

I was in the same room/building as someone who tested positive COVID-19, but not in close contact with him/her. What should I do?

If you were not in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, your risk of catching the virus from that person is low. Follow the general precautions, including physical distancing, wearing a cloth face covering that covers your mouth and nose when around others, washing your hands often and avoid close contact with people who are sick.

I was a close contact to someone who is sick but not tested for COVID-19. What should I do?

If you were around someone while they had symptoms, like fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus or another respiratory virus that causes similar symptoms, like the flu or the common cold. You should continue to practice physical distancing, wash your hands often and monitor for symptoms.

If you develop any symptoms, you should isolate at home and avoid contact with other people. Call your doctor or other healthcare provider to discuss the need to be tested for COVID-19.

I have been around someone else who was exposed to a person with COVID-19. What should I do?

To be exposed to COVID-19 you must be around the person who had it when they had symptoms or within 2 days of when their symptoms started. If you were not, you may not have been exposed to the virus.

It is recommended to watch for symptoms, avoid close contact with people who are sick, wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, practice physical distancing and wear a cloth face covering that covers your mouth and nose when around others.

I am caring for someone who is sick with symptoms of COVID-19. What should I do?

Getting your COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect yourself.

If the person is well enough to not need close care, they should stay in one room, away from other people. If possible, have them use a separate bathroom. Avoid sharing personal household items, like dishes, towels and bedding. If the sick person needs to be around others, they should wear a face mask, if available. If the sick person can’t wear a face mask, you should wear one while in the same room, if available. Always wash your hands while caring for them, as well as frequently throughout the day.  Frequently, at least every day, clean all surfaces that are touched often.  Avoid having any unnecessary visitors.  Monitor the person for worsening symptoms and if the person is getting sicker, call their healthcare provider.  For medical emergencies, call 911 and make sure to notify them that the person has COVID-19.

It is recommended that you get tested but no sooner than seven (7) days after the person you are caring for became sick or immediately if you develop symptoms. If you test positive (that you have the virus), you should isolate at home (see above). If you test negative (that you do not have the virus), you must quarantine at home for 14 days after the person you are caring for was cleared to stop isolating (see above).

Should I get tested if I am not sick?

Fully vaccinated people with no COVID-19-like symptoms and no known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 don't necessarily need to get tested routinely.

Where can I find reopening guidelines?

You can find reopening guidelines for South Carolina on the Governor’s AccelerateSC website. 

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