As SC sees drop in COVID-19 cases, percent positive also down Monday

This is the first day DHEC has reported fewer than 1,000 new cases in more a month.

As SC sees drop in COVID-19 cases, percent positive also down Monday
DHEC announced 718 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 along with 17 more deaths.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has announced 718 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and 17 additional confirmed deaths Monday.

This brings the total number of people with confirmed cases since the outbreak began to 100,431 and confirmed deaths to 1,966.

Of the 17 deaths reported, 13 were elderly people (ages 65 and up) and four were middle-aged (ages 35-64).

Please click here for the county of residence of each of the people whose deaths were reported.

The chart below shows the actual date of death for each of the people whose deaths were announced Monday -- including one probable COVID-19 death.

The green lines mark the actual date of the deaths that were reported today.
The green lines mark the actual date of the deaths that were reported today. (Source: DHEC)

DHEC also announced six new probable cases of the virus, as well as one new probable death. That brings the total of probable cases to 728 and the total number of probable deaths to 83 in the state since the outbreak began.

For more information about why DHEC reports probable cases and deaths, keep reading.

DHEC now uses a document to show county-by-county numbers of new confirmed and probable cases. Cases are counted by a patient’s zip code of residence.

Included in this article is context on testing, recoveries, hospitalization, death rates, and more. That information is provided in detail below.



COVID-19 TESTING IN SOUTH CAROLINA*

  • Negative diagnostic tests (all labs) - 663,060
  • Positive diagnostic tests (all labs) - 127,842
  • Total diagnostic tests - 790,902
  • Negative serology (antibody) tests - 52,035
  • Positive serology (antibody) tests - 4,035
  • Total serology (antibody) tests - 56,070
  • Negative tests of unknown type** - 2,135
  • Positive tests of unknown type** - 10
  • Total tests of unknown type** - 2,045
  • Total number of tests performed in South Carolina by DHEC and private labs - 849,117

*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.

>> To find a COVID-19 testing site near you, click or tap here.

DHEC officials made clear they have not counted any positive antibody tests as positive COVID-19 cases.

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.

TRACKING PERCENT POSITIVE

The recent spike in cases in South Carolina is not just due to more testing, DHEC officials have said repeatedly.

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 has remained high since early June.

DHEC says the percent positive from the 5,610 tests reported to them statewide Sunday was 12.8% (not including antibody tests).

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 percent positive over the past 28 days.

This shows the percent of positive tests out of all testing done in the past 28 days.
This shows the percent of positive tests out of all testing done in the past 28 days. (Source: DHEC)

To see the percent positive since the outbreak began in South Carolina, use the chart below, and click on “Testing.”

COVID-19 HOSPITALIZATION

As of Monday morning, DHEC says 7,958 inpatient hospital beds in the state are in use while 2,467 are available. That’s a 76.34% inpatient bed utilization rate.

Of those currently hospitalized, 1,353 are patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are under investigation for having the virus, DHEC said. Of those, there are 360 COVID-19 patients in the ICU.

There are 1,539 ventilators available in the state with 487 of them in use. COVID-19 patients account for 217 of those.

For information on nursing homes and long-term care facilities impacted by the virus, click or tap here.

COVID-19 RECOVERIES

As of August 6, DHEC has estimated 89% 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 43,791 people. Of those people, 1,321 have unfortunately died.

Based on that information, DHEC estimates that about 37,798 of those people have recovered so far. The rest of those people are still fighting the virus, DHEC says.

Note that this data is only available for fewer than half of the total COVID-19 cases reported in South Carolina.

COVID-19 DEATH RATE

When looking at the confirmed numbers of cases and deaths, one could figure the death toll from the virus is about 1.96% in South Carolina.

If that is the case, as DHEC suggests, there may have been more than 717,364 coronavirus cases in the state so far. That would mean the death toll could be more like 0.27%.

WHAT ARE PROBABLE COVID-19 CASES AND DEATHS?

On June 18, DHEC announced it would 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.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO TO HELP

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.

FACTS ABOUT CORONAVIRUS

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.

Protecting Yourself from Coronavirus (May 2020)

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.

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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.

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