S.C. health officials announced 545 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, and four new deaths from coronavirus-related causes.
Monday’s reported figures bring the total number of confirmed cases in South Carolina to 147,116, and the total number of deaths to 3,258, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
On Sunday, 11% of all tests conducted came back positive, out of 4,947 tests performed. DHEC has recorded more than 1.5 million tests across the state since the pandemic began.
Which counties were affected?
Greenville County reported the largest number of cases Monday, with 69. Horry County also saw a large number of cases at 61.
Richland County reported the third highest number at 44, followed by Spartanburg County at 42 and Lexington County at 41.
The Midlands accounted for most of the latest deaths, with Richland and Lexington each reporting the death of an elderly COVID-19 patient this weekend. Spartanburg County reported the death of someone between the ages of 35 and 64.
Barnwell County also reported a middle-aged death from COVID-19, but that case was recorded Aug. 4, DHEC said, and is just now being reported as a coronavirus-related death.
Are all cases accounted for?
State health officials have estimated that more than 80% 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 Monday, the state recorded 27 probable new cases, and no new deaths.
But those same officials have also warned of “testing fatigue” setting in. After regularly reporting more than 10,000 tests a day in July, DHEC has not recorded that many throughout August and September and bottomed out at less than 3,000 tests reported in a day on multiple occasions.
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.
On Saturday, DHEC reported a testing high of 32.6% positive, but health officials credited that surge to a week-long backlog of testing results that was added to the official state background.
How are hospitals being impacted?
Across South Carolina, 593 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, according to DHEC data. That’s only 8% of all 7,189 people currently hospitalized in the state.
But one-quarter of those patients in intensive care, or 150, are hospitalized with coronavirus-related symptoms. Around 12% of ventilators currently in use in S.C. hospitals, 72, are for coronavirus patients.
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. DHEC has not reported more than 1,000 cases a day since Sept. 17.
The seven-day moving average dipped again and has stayed below 1,000 new cases per day in late September and October. This week, DHEC is projecting 4,233 new cases for the state. Since September there have been 5,000 or less new cases per week, according to health officials.
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.
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Bristow Marchant covers local government, schools and community in Lexington County for The State. He graduated from the College of Charleston in 2007. He has more than 10 years of experience covering South Carolina at the Clinton Chronicle, Sumter Item and Rock Hill Herald. He joined The State in 2016. Bristow won the S.C. Press Association’s 2015 award for Best Series, and was part of The State’s award-winning 2016 election coverage.
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