South Carolina university quarantines 18 students in dorm

March 21, 2020 GMT
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With government officials warning people to take caution and self-isolate because of the coronavirus, college students, many from Coastal Carolina University, gather on the beach in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Thursday. March 19, 2020. (Jason Lee/The Sun News via AP)
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With government officials warning people to take caution and self-isolate because of the coronavirus, college students, many from Coastal Carolina University, gather on the beach in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Thursday. March 19, 2020. (Jason Lee/The Sun News via AP)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina’s largest public university said Saturday that 18 students living in a campus dormitory are being held in quarantine after one of them tested positive for the coronavirus.

The University of South Carolina students were being kept in isolation “pending further investigation” to reduce risks of spreading the new virus, the school said in a news release. It said administrators learned late Friday that a student in a residence hall on the Columbia campus was confirmed to have been infected.

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Campus staff are making sure the quarantined students have food and any needed medical attention, according to the university. It said at least 11 other students and one faculty member have also tested positive for the coronavirus, but all were either off campus or in other states.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 across South Carolina exceeded 170 on Saturday, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. There were three deaths statewide linked to the virus.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of victims recover.

Gov. Henry McMaster a week ago ordered all public schools, including college and universities, to close through the end of March. Schools plan to provide long-distance learning in the short term.

On Saturday, the governor’s office announced McMaster is giving South Carolina income tax filers a three-month extension. He issued an executive order pushing back the deadline for filing state income taxes to July 15. That’s the same date federal income taxes are due.

The deadline for other state taxes in South Carolina is June 1.

The state health department said South Carolina has received its first shipment of medical equipment from the federal government’s strategic stockpile. The 55 pallets of gear included masks, face shields, gowns and gloves. The agency said in a news release that National Guard troops loaded the supplies Friday for distribution to all 46 South Carolina counties.

More shipments are expected in the coming weeks.

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