Sunday was the eighth consecutive day that the number of new cases of COVID-19 reported in South Carolina was less than 1,000.
Out of the 4,450 tests performed, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced 663 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus Sunday.
Health officials confirmed eight more COVID-19 related deaths, along with four new probable deaths.
This brings the total number of positive tests in South Carolina to 110,658, and confirmed deaths to 2,380, according to DHEC.
Counties that were affected
Richland County had the most new cases in the state with 72 positive tests reported by DHEC. Charleston (62) and Greenville (51) counties rounded out the top three in new cases.
In the Midlands, Lexington County had 36 new cases while 10 positive tests were confirmed in Kershaw County.
Two deaths were confirmed in Anderson County, including a middle-age (35-64-year-old) person and someone 65 or older, according to DHEC. Of the other six deaths, two were elderly individuals in Greenwood County, while single, elderly deaths were confirmed in Chester, Darlington, Greenwood, Lancaster, McCormick, Oconee and Pickens counties.
How is COVID-19 trending?
The number of daily new cases reported in South Carolina hit a high of 2,340 on July 18.
Since then, totals have steadily dropped. Last week, the number of new cases didn’t crack 1,000, although health officials warn that may be because of lower rates of testing.
DHEC’s state epidemiologist Linda Bell said the state might see more cases over the Labor Day weekend holiday next month. State officials are projecting 3,909 new cases this week.
On Sunday, 14.9% of tests reported were positive, which officials said is high.
Over the past two weeks, the trend of percentage of tests coming back has ranged between 10-18%, but it has declined from July, when the percentage hovered at 20 percent or more.
Health officials want to see decreasing positive percent and cases for 14 days, ideally getting below 5%, Bell said.
Nationally, about 8.86% of tests turn up positive, according to the CDC.
In all, 954,442 tests have been completed in South Carolina since March.
“Help stop the spread of COVID-19 by getting tested and encouraging others to get tested too,” DHEC tweeted.
Bell said Friday that DHEC is planning to significantly expand the testing capacity of its own labs in the coming weeks, and is evaluating a new saliva-based testing method developed by Yale University that has been approved by the FDA and is “open source,” meaning the method is publicly available.
Are all cases accounted for?
State health officials estimate that around 86% of South Carolinians who contract the virus don’t get tested.
As of Sunday, DHEC estimated that 748,082 people in all have likely contracted COVID-19 since March.
DHEC has also been recording probable cases and probable deaths.
A probable case is someone who has not received a lab test results but has virus symptoms or a positive antibody test.
A probable death is someone who has not gotten a lab test but whose death certificate lists COVID-19 as a cause of death or a contributing factor.
On Sunday, state health officials reported 33 new probable cases and four new probable deaths. That brings the total number of probable cases up to 1,330 and total probable deaths to 124.
DHEC officials have also said the recent slow down in testing could mean that more people with the coronavirus have gone untested and undiagnosed.
How are hospitals being impacted?
State health officials reported 1,026 patients in South Carolina hospitals have coronavirus, including 250 patients in intensive care and 150 patients on ventilators.
In all, 78.15% of in-patient beds are occupied in S.C. hospitals, including 72.65% of the beds in intensive care units.
The number of coronavirus patients hospitalized at one time peaked at more than 1,700 on July 23, and the state has seen small decreases in those daily numbers since.
Some data since late July was unavailable as DHEC transitioned its reporting system from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Department of Health and Human Services, as requested by the federal government. The agency said the new system will give more precise information about COVID-19-related hospital conditions.
Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State focused on breaking news, public safety and trending news. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.
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Lou Bezjak is the High School Sports Prep Coordinator for The (Columbia) State and (Hilton Head) Island Packet. He previously worked at the Florence Morning News and had covered high school sports in South Carolina since 2002. Lou is a two-time South Carolina Sports Writer of the Year by the National Sports Media Association.
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