The COVID-19 virus

COLUMBIA, S.C. – On a day when Pee Dee counties combined for 46 new coronavirus cases, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced a record 987 new confirmed cases in the state.

DHEC also announced four additional confirmed deaths, including one in Florence County.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases to 21,533 and the total number of deaths to 621.

The other deaths that were announced Thursday occurred in elderly individuals from Kershaw (1) and Lancaster (1) counties, and one in a middle-aged individual from Lancaster County.

Florence now has had 871 cases and 44 deaths. Only Richaland (74) and Greenville (70) counties have had more deaths.

Five counties had more cases announced Thursday than the entire Pee Dee: Greenville (169), Charleston (139), Horry (128), Richland (79) and Beaufort (48).

The number of new confirmed cases by county:

Aiken (10), Anderson (14), Bamberg (3), Beaufort (48), Berkeley (24), Calhoun (1), Charleston (139), Chester (1), Chesterfield (4), Cherokee (1), Colleton (3), Clarendon (2), Darlington (4), Dillon (10), Dorchester (20), Fairfield (5), Florence (16), Georgetown (42), Greenville (169), Greenwood (1), Horry (128), Jasper (9), Kershaw (16), Lancaster (7), Laurens (10), Lee (7), Lexington (45), Marion (5), Marlboro (4), Newberry (6), Oconee (5), Orangeburg (13), Pickens (19), Richland (79), Saluda (3), Spartanburg (42), Sumter (34), Union (2), Williamsburg (7) and York (29)

State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell strongly urges South Carolinians to continue to take public health precautions amid concerns over the recent rise in COVID-19 data trends.

“Every one of us has a role to play in stopping COVID-19,” she said. “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.

“It is essential that each of us, every day, wear a mask in public and stay physically distanced from others.”

Bell said she understands that what health officials are continuing to ask of everyone is not easy and that many people are tired of hearing the same warnings and of taking the same daily precautions, but this virus does not take a day off.

“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,” she said.

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

Bell said Healthy people might think they are resistant to the virus and might feel that way even if they contract it.

“They’ll have mild symptoms and feel better in a few days,” she said. “This may be true for some – but it’s also true that we are seeing hospitalizations and deaths in those who were previously healthy and in almost every age group.

Historically, South Carolinians have willingly made sacrifices for the benefit of all. Stopping the spread of this disease will not be easy. However, I am confident in our willingness to take the current actions necessary of wearing face masks and social distancing in order to care for each other. Together we can meet this challenge.”

As of Wednesday, 313,210 tests have been conducted in the state. DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory is operating extended hours and is testing specimens seven days a week. The Public Health Laboratory’s current timeframe for providing results to health care providers is 24 to 48 hours.

The total number of individuals tested Wednesday statewide was 6,854 (not including antibody tests) and the percent positive was 14.4%. When the percent positive is low, it might indicate that more widespread testing is being performed and the percent positive may more accurately reflect how much disease is present in the community.

As of Thursday morning, 3,583 inpatient hospital beds are available and 7,021 are in use, which is a 70.59% statewide hospital bed utilization rate. Of the 7,021 inpatient beds currently used, 626 are occupied by patients who have either tested positive or are under investigation for COVID-19.

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