South Carolina health officials announced Tuesday that 693 more people across the state tested positive for COVID-19 and 17 more people have died after contracting the virus.
Since the global pandemic first reached South Carolina in March, DHEC has recorded 147,800 confirmed cases and 3,275 deaths.
Which counties were affected?
Richland County reported the largest increase in identified coronavirus cases Tuesday. Neighboring Lexington County saw 44 new cases.
Residents of the following counties died after contracting COVID-19: Anderson (1), Beaufort (1), Charleston (1), Cherokee (1), Chesterfield (1), Darlington (1), Dillon (1), Florence (2), Lexington (1), Marion (2), Newberry (2), Pickens (1), Richland (1) and Sumter (1).
How is COVID-19 trending in SC?
The number of daily new cases reported in South Carolina hit a high of 2,343 on July 18. In the month after, totals slowly dropped.
The seven-day moving average of new cases rose again slightly in late August and early September, but it dipped again and stayed below 1,000 new cases per day for most of the month.
State health officials credited the decline in cases since July in part to a significant slowdown in virus activity in areas with face mask requirements and where residents are practicing social distancing. In particular, DHEC data has shown that the areas that implemented mask ordinances the earliest have seen the largest overall declines.
But health officials also say lower testing totals have played a role in declining positive tests. After regularly reporting more than 10,000 tests a day in July, DHEC did not record that many throughout August and September.
Officials have said there has not been a reduction in testing capacity, but demand has slowed as “testing fatigue” sets in. The Department of Health and Human Services deployed a federal “surge testing team” that has set up free testing sites and opportunities in the Columbia area in mid-September.
To account for lower test totals, officials have highlighted the importance of percentage of tests run that come back positive. The seven-day moving average of that percentage in South Carolina rose to nearly 20% in early September but has declined to under 12% in recent weeks.
Tuesday, state health officials reported that 12.9% of tests reported were positive.
Nationally, about 8.2% of tests have turned up positive, according to the CDC. In South Carolina, that percentage has been higher since March, at 14.7%. In all, 1,456,415 tests have been completed in the state since March.
Are all cases accounted for?
State health officials have estimated in the past that around 86% of South Carolinians who contract the virus don’t get tested.
DHEC has also been recording probable cases and probable deaths. A probable case is someone who has not received a lab test result 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 Tuesday, state health officials reported 73 new probable cases and no new probable deaths. That puts the total number of probable cases at 5,170 and total probable deaths at 196.
How are hospitals being impacted?
As of Tuesday, the state reported 655 patients in South Carolina hospitals have the novel coronavirus, including 167 in intensive care and 87 on ventilators. The number of patients hospitalized at one time peaked at 1,723 on July 23.
In all, 77.87% of inpatient beds in S.C. hospitals are currently occupied, including 71.07% of ICU beds.
Covering University of South Carolina football, women’s basketball and baseball for GoGamecocks and The State, along with Columbia city council and other news.
Emily Bohatch helps cover South Carolina’s government for The State. She also updates The State’s databases. Her accomplishments include winning multiple awards for her coverage of South Carolina’s prison system. She has a degree in Journalism with a minor in Spanish from Ohio University’s E. W. Scripps School of Journalism.
Support my work with a digital subscription