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DHEC warns of growing threat of Delta variant of COVID-19 in SC | COVID-19

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With less than half the state’s population starting the vaccination process, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is warning a variant of the virus that originated in India poses a renewed threat to people who haven’t gotten a shot. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named the Delta mutation a “variant of concern” on June 14.

The CDC estimates 20 percent of cases belong to the variant, up from a recent estimate of 10 percent.

“It’s about doubled in two weeks time,” said Dr. Jonathan Knoche, a DHEC physician. 

He noted that while DHEC has only confirmed four cases of the variant in South Carolina, sampling for the mutation is done randomly and the number of cases attributable to the variant is likely much higher.


Fortunately, the vaccines are effective against the mutation, according to DHEC, but only once both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine are taken.

After just the first dose, the two-dose vaccines are only 33 percent effective against the variant. After the second dose, they are 88 percent effective. 

There is less information about how effective the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is against the Delta variant.

Statewide numbers

New cases reported: 68 confirmed, 59 probable.

Total cases in S.C.: 492,864 confirmed, 103,037 probable.

Percent positive: 2.3 percent.

New deaths reported: 1 confirmed, 0 probable.

Total deaths in S.C.: 8,629 confirmed, 1,175 probable. 

Percent of ICU beds filled: 65 percent.


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S.C. residents vaccinated

DHEC’s vaccine dashboard shows 47 percent of the state’s residents have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Hardest-hit areas

In the total number of newly confirmed cases, Greenville County (nine), Charleston County (eight) and Florence County (five) saw the highest totals. 

What about tri-county?

Charleston County had eight new cases on June 23, while Berkeley County had four and Dorchester County had four.

Deaths

The death from COVID-19 confirmed June 23 was a patient age 65 or older.

Hospitalizations

Of the 147 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of June 23, 38 were in the ICU and 21 were using ventilators.


What do experts say?

During the last week, the total number of deaths from COVID-19 DHEC reports to the public has fluctuated — both upward and downward.

The state public health agency says that’s mostly because of new information about the deaths that it receives from coroners and medical certifiers. Commonly, DHEC learns a person it reported as having died from COVID-19 actually resided out-of-state. In other instances, it has gotten two reports of the same death and later deletes one of the records so there are no duplicates.

“The data we report out each day are provisional and as accurate as possible at the time they are reported,” the agency said in a statement.

DHEC does not determine cause of death; that responsibility falls to coroners and medical certifiers.

Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-607-4312. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.


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