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SC coronavirus updates: State case count tops 114,000

We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus in South Carolina. Check back for updates.

More than 1,000 new cases reported

At least 115,661 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in South Carolina and 2,563 have died, according to state officials.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control on Saturday reported 1,250 new reported cases, breaking a 13 day streak of having less than 1,000 new daily cases.

Officials have said fewer people are getting tested for COVID-19, which is likely contributing to the lower number of positive cases. But reported tests jumped from fewer than 2,500 on Wednesday to more than 6,000 on Saturday. That’s still well below the roughly 10,000 daily tests in late July.

About 20.5% of tests reported Saturday came back positive. The World Health Organization recommends 5% or lower.

Officials on Friday reported 42 additional coronavirus-related deaths.

DHEC says to get tested even if you think it’s allergies

With South Carolina falling short of its COVID-19 testing goals, state health officials are urging more of the state’s residents to get tested for the coronavirus, even if they only have mild symptoms.

DHEC encouraged people to get tested if they have symptoms, even if mild or if they think it’s just seasonal allergies, or if people have been exposed or are concerned they’ve been exposed.

High school football returns in SC

Hammond and Ben Lippen, two private schools in the Columbia area, met on the gridiron on the first Friday night since schools started again. The coronavirus had put the high school football season into question.

In the Lowcountry, Hilton Head Christian Academy faced off with Dorchester Academy

The atmosphere wasn’t exactly normal but parents, fans, players and coaches were glad to be back., they said.

Richland County surpasses 10,000 cases

Richland County became the third county to surpass 10,000 cases of the coronavirus.

Friday afternoon state health officials announced that 10,107 case have affected Richland County.

RIchland becomes the third county with more than 10,00 cases after Charleston and Greenville counties.

USC researchers say THC could treat COVID complication

Researchers with the University of South Carolina believe THC, the chemical found in marijuana that causes a “high,” could be used to treat Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, an often deadly COVID-19 complication.

The USC studies found that administering THC to mice can prevent an immune response that triggers ARDS, and even encourages healthy bacteria growth in the lungs.

Mice were given a toxin that would cause the immune response that triggers ARDS, and some were given THC to counteract. Every mouse that was administered THC survived.

USC’s Prakash Nagarkatti, who co-published the studies, said he feels so confident in the results that he is recommending health officials start human trials.

Nagarkatti says the work should not be taken as an endorsement of recreational marijuana use or smoking marijuana.

“I just want to make sure our research is not interpreted as marijuana is good for COVID 19,” Nagarkatti said. “If you start using THC early on it might worsen the effect because it suppresses the immune system.”

Prisma eases visitation restrictions

Prisma Health is allowing limited patient visits starting Sept. 1, the health system announced Friday.

Patients who aren’t infected with coronavirus, emergency department patients, obstetric patients and behavioral health patients will be able to choose a “care partner,” the one person allowed to visit them in the hospital.

Most care partners are limited to one visit per day, meaning they can leave and return once every 24 hours. For emergency room patients, care partners can visit every 12 hours.

Visitors will be screened and must wear a mask during their entire visit.

“Being with a loved one is, in itself, a healing therapy, and Prisma Health looks forward to offering expanded visitation for designated care partners next week,” Prisma’s Dr. Scott Sasser said in a statement.

Families push SC officials to ease nursing home rules

South Carolina families have been calling, emailing and writing state officials, asking them to ease nursing home restrictions put in place to protect residents and staff from the coronavirus — and it seems to be working.

Last week, Gov. Henry McMaster called on the state Department of Health and Environmental Control to come up with a new set of rules that allow visits from close family. Cindy Buttino, who hasn’t been able to see her mother in six months, said it’s a step in the right direction.

“Even though I feel like it was overdue, I was thrilled to see him take action.” she said.

Buttino is also part of a 250-member Facebook group called “South Carolina caregivers for compromise – because isolation kills too!” The group says it is dedicated to fighting for the rights of seniors. It also functions as a sort of support group for people cut off from their elderly family members.

“We are their only advocates. We’ve got to stand together and get justice for them,” Buttino said.

SC should have had mask rule, restaurateurs say

It would have been better for business if South Carolina had passed a statewide mask mandate, some restaurant owners are saying, The State reported.

“From the latest information at that time, we didn’t even think about (pushing for a statewide mask requirement),” said Bobby Williams, CEO of Lizard’s Thicket and chairman of the S.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association. “But now, in hindsight, I think it would have made a difference.”

Williams was also a member of Gov. Henry McMaster’s state reopening task force and encouraged McMaster to reopen businesses in May.

Customers were often angered by his restaurant’s mask policy, he said.

“We ended up policing these masks, and it pitted us against these customers,” Williams said. “We were doing the right thing. ….We lost customers over this.”

While DHEC data proves masks are effective at controlling the spread of coronavirus, Eddie Wales, the owner of Motor Supply Co., wishes widespread mask use hadn’t taken so long to catch on in SC.

“If we started earlier, we could have been getting out of this earlier,” Wales said. “It should have been the smart, responsible thing to do from the beginning.”

Related stories from The State in Columbia SC

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