COVID-19 information and data related to Jasper County (updated every Friday)
UPDATE: January 22, 2021
The COVID case rate in the County remains at a high level. We again urge anyone who develops what they think might be COVID symptoms to go to our rapid testing site (JCAP building on Grays Hwy) as soon as possible - no appointment necessary - to be sure you get appropriate care, and to help us contain the possible spread of infection to others. We are learning that much of the COVID illness we are seeing still comes from failing to wear masks in close indoor work situations, and from failure to distance. All of the cases in students and staff have been brought into the school setting from community contacts. Our testing program is intended to prevent further spread within the school environment itself. Please bear in mind that we can keep schools open if we all take our share of responsibility in this effort. “Spread the word, not the virus”!
UPDATE: January 15, 2021
JCSD Announces Opening of District Testing Site
UPDATE: January 8, 2021
Two important updates: first, as expected, we are seeing a significant rise in COVID case rates, and our test positivity numbers are now on a par with the rest of the State. In view of these developments, the timing of school re-opening will likely be delayed, if only briefly, until we can get our rapid testing program up and running to safeguard the start-up. We expect that testing facility to be operational within two weeks. In locating it at an off-campus site, the old high school building (now JCAP) on Grays Highway, we can avoid bringing potentially sick individuals into the school setting. The process is structured to provide maximum convenience, efficiency and confidentiality; no appointments necessary, drive-up testing in your car, results available while you wait, within 15 minutes. Importantly, this approach will allow us to start contact tracing immediately, before those contacts can spread the virus further. We know this approach will make it possible to get our kids back to school safely. We know, based on others’ experience, that this kind of approach has essentially eliminated in-school transmission of the virus.The program will be organized and managed by Ms. Gizelle Bradshaw, an RN with extensive experience in both pediatric and adult medicine, as well as public health. We expect to be able to extend our testing capability to Hardeeville once our Ridgeland site is operational.
Finally, our success in a venture that is acutely aware of the need to get kids back to school, on the one hand, and that must protect the safety of our kids and school staff, depends on our community at large having confidence in and participating in the process. “Spread the word, not the virus!"
UPDATE: December 31, 2020
COVID-19 cases have increased by 50% in lowcountry S.C. this past month, a trend that is expected to continue for the next several weeks. About 9% of these cases are school-aged children - that percentage has not changed significantly. While the largest number of COVID deaths occur in those over 65 (they account for about 80% of deaths), there has been a dramatic increase in deaths among US adults ages 25 to 44, as well. Importantly, according to the CDC, Black and Hispanic people make up not just a disproportionate number of cases but a majority of COVID-19 deaths in this age group. The idea of risk, then, applies to ALL of us. We will supplement our efforts to control spread of the virus with a rapid testing program for those with symptoms - results in 15 minutes - to allow sure identification of those infected, and to identify contacts before further spread occurs. Particulars concerning the testing program - location, schedules, etc, - will be posted at our next update, Friday, Jan. 8. Awareness and implementation of this testing approach bring us one step closer to returning our kids to school. All that said, we also know that as much science as we can bring to bear on this problem, it is not in itself sufficient. Now abundant experience teaches that mask-wearing, distancing, limiting indoor gatherings, etc remain the most effective means of blunting another surge in cases.
Finally, the initial round of vaccinations is now underway, specifically for phase 1a individuals - healthcare workers, long term care facility residents and staff. The next phase, 1b, is expected to include teachers and school staff. We will provide updates on specifics as they become available.
We all pray, finally, for a healthy Happy New Year.
UPDATE: December 24, 2020
Covid case rates will continue to increase through the Holidays as the result of travel and gatherings; establishing a readily accessible rapid testing becomes, accordingly, critical in limiting further spread of the virus. The timing and feasibility of school re-opening will depend on how effective we can be in early case recognition and contact tracing. It will take until the third week of January before we will know the full effect of the continuing surge in Jasper County. In the meantime, particulars relating to the testing process, and location of and access to our testing site on Grays Highway will be provided in next week’s update, Thursday, December 31. We anticipate that facility will begin operations no later than January 11.
UPDATE: December 18, 2020
Over the past week Jasper County has experienced a sharp increase in Covid cases - about a 50% rise in 7 days - not unexpected, and consistent with numbers from all areas of the state. This is the biggest surge we have seen here since the pandemic began, and unfortunately almost certain to be further worsened by the coming post-Christmas surge. Accordingly, the delay in-school learning will remain in place at least until January 20. All must understand we are entering a period of very high risk. WEAR YOUR MASK AND BE SURE TO DISTANCE. By this time next week (we will post our next update THURSDAY DEC 24) we will share our plan for student/faculty rapid Covid testing testing, to start soon after January 1. Even though all students will be in the virtual learning program, it is important that anyone experiencing potential Covid symptoms - particularly shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, cough, loss of taste or smell, temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher - come to a testing site as soon as possible. Younger children may have milder symptoms, including runny nose, sore throat, or stomach upset and diarrhea. Anyone who develops symptoms while in quarantine must also be tested promptly. Results of this new test are available in 15 minutes, so appropriate medical follow-up can be arranged promptly; and, it will allow us to identify contacts quickly to limit the further spread of the virus. We must assure we are doing everything possible to protect both our school community and the community at large.