Almost 1.3k new COVID-19 cases reported in S.C.

Almost 1.3k new COVID-19 cases reported in S.C.
Coronavirus cases in South Carolina (Source: WBTV)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTV) - South Carolina health officials reported 1,281 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, increasing the statewide total to 163,143 confirmed positive cases since the start of the pandemic.

Additionally, seven more people have died due to complications with the virus. There have been 3,567 COVID-19-related deaths since March.

The total number of individual test results reported to DHEC on Saturday statewide was 1,880,529 (not including antibody tests) since the pandemic started, and the percent positive was 11.1%.

South Carolina publishes COVID-19 vaccination plan

Health officials say the overarching goal of this vaccination plan is the equitable distribution of the vaccine across the state, based on the most current federal guidance and recommendations.

The plan. It is available online at scdhec.gov/covid19vaccine.

“Safety is the top priority in any vaccine development and no vaccine will be released until it has undergone the rigorous scientific and clinical testing that’s required as part of all vaccine development,” said Dr. Linda Bell, South Carolina State Epidemiologist. “Scientists had already begun research for coronavirus vaccines during previous outbreaks caused by related coronaviruses, and that earlier research provided a head start for rapid development of vaccines to protect against infection with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19.”

During the initial stages of the national COVID-19 Vaccination Program, there will be a limited supply of the vaccine.

That limited supply will be made available to certain identified groups, including front-line medical workers and nursing home residents.

COVID-19 vaccine supply is expected to increase substantially and be more widely available to the public in 2021.

For more information, including frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines, visit scdhec.gov/covid19vaccine.

Who Should Get Tested?

If you are out and about in the community, around others, or not able to socially distance or wear a mask, officials recommend that you get tested at least once a month.

Routine testing allows public health workers to diagnose those who are asymptomatic and interrupt the ongoing spread of the virus. Learn more about who should get tested here.

Nursing homes to report visitation status

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) issued a public health order that requires all nursing homes and community residential care facilities licensed by DHEC to submit a weekly report detailing each facility’s current visitation status.

This public health order was issued as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to protect the health of long-term care facility residents and employees while also providing for safe and careful visits with family, friends and loved ones, according to South Carolina health officials. Under the public health order, DHEC-licensed nursing homes and community residential care facilities must provide, among other information:

  • whether the facility is allowing visitation, and if not, provide the reason(s) for not allowing visitation
  • the number of residents that participated in a visit in the previous seven days

DHEC to report cases at public/private schools in South Carolina

On Sept. 4, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced it is unveiling online resources that provide COVID-19 cases associated with students, faculty and staff and all kindergarten through 12th grade public and private schools in South Carolina.

The information, which can be found at scdhec.gov/COVID19schools, will be updated twice a week.

Health officials say it’s important to remember that this reporting does not mean that students, faculty or staff contracted the virus at school; only those students, faculty and staff who physically attend a school or a school’s campus on a regular basis will be included in the counts; and some schools may choose to self-announce cases before they are reflected in DHEC’s twice-weekly reports.

DHEC clarifies CDC information about COVID-19 deaths

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is clarified misunderstanding around data from the U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention Control (CDC) regarding deaths associated with COVID-19.

Provisional death data updated by the CDC shows that for six percent of COVID-19 deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause of death mentioned. The remaining 94 percent of deaths were among people with other underlying or contributing conditions but COVID-19 was still a factor in the deaths.

Cause of death, as listed on a death certificate, includes an immediate cause, intermediate causes, underlying cause, and contributing conditions.

A common example of cause of death involving COVID-19 would have acute respiratory distress syndrome as the immediate cause of death, which is the ultimate condition that caused the death. The intermediate cause of death would have been pneumonia, with COVID-19 as the underlying cause of death.

The underlying cause of death is the condition that leads, via intermediate causes, to the immediate cause of death.

Contributing factors could have been asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, or any other illness or condition that may have made the condition that was the cause of death worse than it would have been.

Are face masks required in S.C.?

Gov. Henry McMaster announced a mask requirement at several establishments in South Carolina, effective on Monday, Aug. 3.

All previously recommended guidelines for restaurants and other establishments that attract groups of people are now mandatory. This includes the wearing of a face mask or cover.

Locally, the cities of York, Rock Hill, Tega Cay, Fort Mill and Chester have all passed face-covering mandates. However, the counties where these cities are located declined to pass any county-wide orders.

Although no statewide mandate has been passed, South Carolina leaders and health officials, including Gov. Henry McMaster, continue to urge residents to wear them.

As part of the “Mask Up” statewide campaign aimed at encouraging youth and young adults to embrace wearing a face mask, DHEC is offering free mask content that anyone can share on social media to encourage their friends and followers to wear a face covering in public.

Social media posts, graphics, and videos to be shared online can be found at scdhec.gov/staySCstrong.

Restrictions/Closings across South Carolina

While most businesses have been allowed to reopen in South Carolina, there are several that remain closed or limited in capacity.

An executive order went into effect on July 11 restricting the sale of alcohol at bars and restaurants after 11 p.m. The order is aimed, McMaster said, at preventing late-night gatherings at those business.

Other types of businesses, facilities, venues, events or mass gatherings are permitted to open but are required to implement AccelerateSC guidelines.

These businesses include festivals, parades, concerts, theaters, stadiums, arenas, coliseums, auditoriums, grandstands, amphitheaters, gymnasiums, concert halls, dance, halls, performing arts centers, parks, racetracks, or similarly operated entities.

These guidelines include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Attendance may not exceed 50% of the certificate of occupancy issued by the fire marshal – or 250 persons – whichever is less.
  • Require the wearing of masks or face coverings as a condition of admission or participation
  • Enact social distancing, cleaning and hygiene practices as recommended by AccelerateSC
  • End the sale of alcohol at 11 p.m.

The governor warned businesses who may go against CDC guidelines that if someone was to contract the virus at their establishment due to non-compliance and take that business to court, there would be “an enormous price to pay.”

Testing

DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory receives samples from healthcare providers to be tested for COVID-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved some private labs to also conduct testing for COVID-19. These labs are required to report positive tests for the virus in South Carolina residents to DHEC.

Numerical, graphic and mapping summaries regarding testing and the number of observed and projected cases in South Carolina, as well as additional details concerning the distribution of cases can be found on the pages showing cases by county & ZIP code and demographic data.

DHEC has stated a goal of 165,000 tests conducted per month for the rest of the year.

Confirmed vs. probable cases and deaths

South Carolina reports both confirmed and probable cases and deaths across the state. DHEC defines the difference between these statistics as:

  • A confirmed case is an individual who had a confirmatory viral test performed by way of a throat or nose swab and that specimen tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19. A positive viral test, also called a PCR test or molecular test, alone is enough to classify a confirmed case.
  • A probable case is an individual who has not had a confirmatory viral test performed but has epidemiologic evidence and clinical evidence of infection. A positive antibody result no longer classifies an individual as a probable case. A positive antibody result will now be categorized as a suspect case.
  • A confirmed death is someone whose death is related to COVID-19 and who tested positive with a confirmatory viral test for COVID-19.
  • A probable death is an individual whose death certificate lists COVID-19 disease or SARS-CoV-2 as a cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death but did not undergo confirmatory viral testing.

This webpage provides information about probable cases and deaths and will be updated to reflect the most current CDC recommendations for reporting this new information.

Hospitalizations in South Carolina

South Carolina is currently not reporting accurate numbers for hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in the state.

Since Wednesday, July 22, DHEC says hospitals have “actively been making a transition to a new federal reporting system for providing bed occupancy and other important information. DHEC is monitoring their efforts to transition to the new system.”

At this time, DHEC says they are aware that the information currently provided by hospitals through the new system has inaccuracies.

“Once DHEC is able to verify the information the hospitals are reporting as part of this new system is accurate and the system is fully implemented, we will resume our effort to provide daily data reports,” officials report.

DHEC issued a Public Health Order supporting the transition from NHSN to TeleTracking on July 15.

For more information or for updates, you can visit DHEC’s Hospital Bed Occupancy page here.

For S.C. demographic data, including the latest recovery rates for the state, click here.

Governor Henry McMaster is giving parents across South Carolina the choice between sending their children back to school and remote learning this academic year.

“What we need to do is take every step at our disposal to see to it that our children get back in their classrooms,” McMaster said. “We must do it safely, we must do it carefully, but we must do it.”

The State Department of Education directed public schools to submit their completed school reopening plans for review and approval by Friday, July 17. Any plans that did not offer both in-person and remote learning options were denied.

State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman also instituted a face mask requirement for students and staff on state-owned school buses.

According to state officials, the face mask requirement, in combination with following other mitigation strategies and cleaning procedures, will allow districts to increase ridership capacity up to 67%.

MORE RESOURCES:

S.C. compared to other states

South Carolina has received national attention as one of the worst states in the country for coronavirus cases. Over the past several weeks, the state has been breaking records for single-day increases in positive COVID-19 cases.

New York, Connecticut and New Jersey are all asking South Carolina residents to quarantine for two weeks when if they visit the states. South Carolina is a risk for spreading the virus to places that have it better under control. Health leaders say a mask requirement statewide would be helpful, and local places requiring masks help too, but not as fast.

What you can do to help

South Carolina leaders and health officials urge every resident to do their part to help slow the spread of COVID_19 across the state.

“Every one of us has a role to play in stopping COVID-19,” Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell says. “This virus does not spread on its own. It’s spread around our state by infected people who carry it wherever they go – their work, the supermarket, the post office, a friend’s house. By not following public health precautions, many are putting all at risk.”

Bell urges people in South Carolina to wear face coverings when out in public. She also said that the number of new cases shows that the virus is still very much active in the state.

“We understand that what we’re continuing to ask of everyone is not easy and that many are tired of hearing the same warnings and of taking the same daily precautions, but this virus does not take a day off,” Bell said. “Every day that we don’t all do our part, we are extending the duration of illnesses, missed work, hospitalizations and deaths in our state.

“There is no vaccine for COVID-19. There are only individual behaviors and actions we must all maintain that help stop its spread.”

“As the number of tests being performed increases, so do the number of cases, we would expect that,” Dr. Joan Duwve, with DHEC, said. “However, that percent positive rate continues to increase, as well, which tells us that we are finding more real cases -- not just cases that were asymptomatic and not otherwise diagnosed.”

She said each person diagnosed could likely infect between two to four other people.

Since the state has mostly reopened and Gov. Henry McMaster has stated lockdowns will not return, Duwve stressed the importance of people taking action to fight the spread of COVID-19.

The two things people can do are simple: social distance and wear a mask. Duwve said people just aren’t doing that, and that’s why cases are spiking.

There is still a significant risk of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus in a public setting in any community. To reduce the spread, health officials advise everyone to take following precautions:

  • Maintain social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from others
  • Wear a cloth mask that covers your nose and mouth while in public
  • Avoid touching frequently touched items
  • Regularly wash your hands
  • Monitor for symptoms and stay home when sick

People should stay home and get tested for the coronavirus if they have any of the following symptoms:

  • fever
  • shortness of breath
  • headaches
  • sore throat
  • loss of smell
  • vomiting, nausea and/or diarrhea

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