Officials taking measures for virus

By Jason Evans

Staff Reporter

COUNTY — Precautions are underway at the county, state and national levels to contain further outbreaks of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

According to a Monday news release from community relations manager Jamie Burns, Pickens County is making changes to its operations to combat the virus’ spread.

Pickens County had no cases of coronavirus as of Monday evening, emergency management director Denise Kwiatek said.

“As of right now, we are just watching to see if we do get any cases in the county,” she said.

Her department is working closely with counterparts in nearby areas, as well as with the state Emergency Management Division.

“We’re just being vigilant in seeing what the surrounding counties are doing,” Kwiatek said. “We’re all working together and watching to make sure we don’t make the wrong move. Our main goal is to protect our citizens and our employees.”

Statewide, there were 33 cases of COVID-19 as of Monday, she said, and it was announced Sunday that two patients had tested presumptive positive for the virus at AnMed Health Medical Center in Anderson.

A nursing home resident in Lexington became the first fatality in the state from the virus outbreak, officials announced Monday.

“Nursing homes across the state have been very vigilant for the last three days in limiting who comes to the nursing homes to see the residents, which is a huge help in protecting that community,” Kwiatek said.

Pickens County operations changes will be effective through March 31 and may be extended pending further developments, the county news release said.

At this time, county offices will remain open, but that is subject to change at any time, the release said.

To help limit transmission of the virus, residents are encouraged to conduct county business online or by phone when possible through the end of the month. A county directory can be found at

Cleaning efforts at all county facilities will be increased, including cleaning entry doorways and restroom doors and handles, the release said.

County first responders will continue to provide services, the release said. Call (864) 898-5500 to file non-emergency complaints or reports.

The Pickens County Detention Center has suspended all in-person visitation, but remote video conferencing is still available, the release said.

County staff and officials will be closely monitoring the situation and conducting daily teleconferences with department heads and officials to adapt to changing conditions. As it becomes available, new information will be posted on the county’s website and Facebook page, the release said.

The Pickens County Library System branches are closed to the public. Drive-thru services at the Easley and Central-Clemson branches will be open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 2-6 p.m. on Sundays.

The Pickens County Museum and Performing Arts Center are both closed to the public until further notice, and Mile Creek Park will not accept new reservations through April 15.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency Sunday afternoon, ordering that all schools, including public colleges and universities, remain closed through the end of March.

He also strongly advised residents to avoid public gatherings of more than 100 people.

Clemson University president Jim Clements announced Clemson’s online instruction period has been extended through at least Sunday, April 5.

“The university will offer no in-person classes during this period,” he said in a release.

All Clemson University events, programs and activities have been suspended through April 5.

“This includes the 2020 Spring Ring Ceremony, the annual spring football game and all campus tours,” Clements said.

Students who live on campus should plan on not returning to campus housing until at least April 5 “unless they have no other viable options,” he said.

“Exceptions will be granted on an individual basis,” Clements said.

Minimizing the number of people on campuses and limiting large group interactions are the best ways to achieve the goal of completing the academic semester, he said.

“I am encouraging all students across the state in the strongest possible terms to conduct their online instruction following spring break from home if at all possible,” Clements said. “If you don’t absolutely need to be on campus during this period, please stay home.”

Tri-County Technical College will be closed through March 31, according to a release.

“The college is determining whether courses may be delivered in an online format after spring break ends on March 20,” the release said. “The college remains in contact with emergency personnel at the county and state levels to determine what additional adjustments may be needed.”

Students, faculty and staff can visit for the latest information on the college’s response and resources regarding the virus.

For more information on COVID-19, visit or call the DHEC Care Line, available 24 hours a day, at 855-472-3432. If you believe you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, visit to receive a free virtual assessment with code COVID19.

“We are advising our employees to really practice the social distancing and the washing of your hands,” Kwiatek said.

Residents are asked to avoid visiting county offices.

“Residents should call and ask questions if they have concerns, at least for two weeks,” Kwiatek said.

President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus on Friday and on Monday afternoon advised citizens to limit social gatherings to those where 10 people or less would be in attendance, as well as to avoid eating in bars, restaurants and public food courts.