COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - On Wednesday, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has announced 577 new cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and 10 additional deaths.
This brings the total number of people confirmed to have had COVID-19 since the outbreak began to 20,551. So far, 617 have died DHEC has also reported five probable cases related to COVID-19 and no probable deaths.
On Wednesday, DHEC announced it will begin reporting probable cases and deaths. A probable case, according to DHEC officials, is an individual who has not had a confirmatory viral test performed but meets the following qualifications:
- Has epidemiologic evidence and clinical evidence of infection, or
- A positive antibody blood test and either epidemiologic evidence or clinical evidence.
A probable death, according to DHEC, is a person whose death certificate lists COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 as a cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death but did not undergo confirmatory viral testing.
You can find more information on probable cases and deaths here.
Nine of the deaths announced Wednesday were elderly people (65 and older) from Beaufort (1), Berkeley (1), Colleton (1), Greenville (1), Horry (1), Lancaster (1), Lexington (2), and York (1) counties.
One person who died was a middle-aged resident (35 to 64) who lived in Charleston County.
Included in this article is context on testing, recoveries, hospitalization, death rates, and more. That information is provided in detail below the info on new cases.
New confirmed cases by county as of Wednesday, June 17:
- Aiken (6)
- Anderson (7)
- Beaufort (29)
- Berkeley (5)
- Calhoun (1)
- Charleston (35)
- Cherokee (2)
- Chester (2)
- Chesterfield (2)
- Clarendon (6)
- Colleton (2)
- Darlington (6)
- Dillon (4)
- Dorchester (8)
- Fairfield (2)
- Florence (22)
- Georgetown (22)
- Greenville (77)
- Greenwood (5)
- Horry (120)
- Jasper (1)
- Kershaw (10)
- Lancaster (11)
- Laurens (5)
- Lexington (35)
- Marion (5)
- Marlboro (4)
- Newberry (2)
- Oconee (3)
- Orangeburg (6)
- Pickens (20)
- Richland (57)
- Saluda (2)
- Spartanburg (22)
- Sumter (5)
- Williamsburg (7)
- York (19)
DHEC has also listed two new probable cases in Richland County as of Wednesday.
- Negative diagnostic tests (all labs) - 244,957
- Positive diagnostic tests (all labs) - 27,792
- Total diagnostic tests - 272,749
- Negative serology (antibody) tests - 28,878
- Positive serology (antibody) tests - 1,500
- Total serology (antibody) tests - 30,378
- Negative tests of unknown type** - 1,300
- Positive tests of unknown type** - 4
- Total tests of unknown type** - 1,304
- Total number of tests performed in South Carolina by DHEC and private labs - 304,431
*These numbers represent the volume of tests received and not distinct individuals tested. Individuals could have multiple tests.
**Unknown test types refer to tests with an unrecognized type. As (DHEC) continues to investigate unknown test types they will be reassigned as more information becomes available.
As readers may notice, DHEC recently changed the way it’s reporting testing numbers.
The agency said it had been including antibody testing in its numbers since March 10, but it didn’t start specifying which tests were which until Thursday, June 11.
However, DHEC officials made clear they have not counted any positive antibody tests as positive COVID-19 cases.
“The inclusion of antibody test numbers in our daily testing numbers has not affected the number of cases in the state, however, it has slightly decreased the percent positive,” DHEC explained.
Antibody tests determine if a person has COVID-19 antibodies in their system, meaning they had a previous infection. It does not test for an active infection.
The recent spike in cases in South Carolina is not just due to more testing, DHEC said during the week of June 8.
While case numbers reached record highs during that week, the percent positive was also high. Percent positive refers to the number of people who test positive for COVID-19 in relation to the number of tests being performed.
The percent positive increased when reported Tuesday, but as of Wednesday, it decreased slightly to 13.1%.
When daily case numbers are high and the percent positive is high, that indicates more virus spread in the community, DHEC said.
The following chart shows the rise in percent positive over the past 28 days.
Health officials linked the rise in the number of cases during the week of June 8 to gatherings that happened over the Memorial Day weekend.
To see the percent positive since the outbreak began in South Carolina, use the chart below and click on “Testing.”
DHEC says as of Wednesday morning, 607 people are hospitalized due to COVID-19 or are under investigation for the possibility of having the virus. That’s an increase of 36 people from the day before.
Of all inpatient hospital beds in the state, 7,411 beds are in use and 3,087 beds are available, meaning about 70.59% of all beds in the state are in use.
As of June 15, DHEC has estimated 79% of people who didn’t die from the virus, and that they have “symptom onset data” for, have recovered. They only have that data for 12,836 people. Of those people, 514 have unfortunately died.
Based on that information, DHEC estimates that about 9,734 people have recovered so far. The rest of the people are still fighting the virus, DHEC says.
When looking at the confirmed numbers of cases and deaths, one could figure the death toll from the virus is about 3% in South Carolina.
If that is the case, as DHEC suggests, there may have been more than 146,793 coronavirus cases in the state so far. That would mean the death toll could be more like 0.42%.
South Carolinians are encouraged to monitor for symptoms, practice social distancing, avoid touching frequently touched items (such as doorknobs and handrails), and regularly wash their hands, especially after being in a public place.
To help protect against COVID-19, DHEC encourages everyone to wear a mask covering whenever in public. When wearing a mask, South Carolinians should:
- Make sure you can breathe through it
- Wear it whenever going out in public
- Make sure it covers your nose and mouth
- Wash your hands before taking it on or off
- Wash after using
You should not:
- Use on children under age 2
- Touch the front of the mask
- Use surgical masks needed by healthcare workers
DHEC says homemade masks can reduce the chance of people spreading the virus and keep them from touching their face. They are recommended to be worn in places where social distancing is difficult -- grocery stores, pharmacies, etc...
People who have the virus but aren’t showing symptoms can reduce their chance of spreading the virus by wearing a mask, so everyone is recommended to wear one.
For a video tutorial on how to make your own mask, click or tap here.
Individuals with signs of illness are asked to stay at home and not attend public gatherings.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is spread mainly from person-to-person by those in close contact, or through coughing and sneezing by someone who’s infected.
Symptoms of the coronavirus can show up between two and 14 days of exposure, health officials say. Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
For most people, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But some severe cases can lead to death.
Most people can recover from the virus at home using over-the-counter medications to treat their symptoms.
Some people who have the virus don’t show any symptoms, but they can still spread it to others. The CDC estimates that up to 35% of all cases are asymptomatic.
Those who are at the highest risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19 are the elderly and those who are already being treated for chronic medical diseases.
The CDC says about 3% of people who show symptoms of the virus need to be hospitalized, but that percentage is doubled for seniors.
Young people who contract the virus are not likely to have a serious case, research shows. However, the CDC said about 40% of people who needed to be hospitalized due to the coronavirus are between the ages of 18 and 64.
Those who are hospitalized with serious cases of COVID-19 have trouble breathing, and many need support from ventilators, which breathe for them. The U.S. is working to produce more of the machines to prepare, but experts fear a shortage of life-saving devices.
Children are the least likely to develop COVID-19. However, a serious but rare inflammatory condition in children has been linked with the coronavirus. Click or tap here to read more about that.
The mortality rate for people with the virus was first widely reported around 2 to 3%, but health experts noted at the time that the actual percentage was not that high, as not all cases are diagnosed or reported.
As of mid-May, the CDC estimates about 0.4% of people who get COVID-19 will die from it.
The rate is higher than the flu, which kills on average about 0.1% of people who get it, based on a 10-year average of data from the CDC.
Anyone with concerns about their health, or who believes they are showing symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, should call their health care provider. Avoid going to the doctor or an emergency room unless the situation is life-threatening.
People without a doctor can take advantage of free online screening from Prisma Health and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).
MUSC has an online platform to aid with coronavirus diagnosis and care. Go to musc.care and access the COVID-19 platform. The service is free with code: COVID19.
Prisma Health also has a free virtual visit, which allows patients to video conference with a doctor instead of coming into a facility. The goal is to keep patients who don’t need to be treated at a hospital at home. Go to prismahealth.org/virtual-visit and use promo code COVID19 for a free virtual visit.
For more information on COVID-19, click or tap here to visit the CDC’s website.