In South Carolina and around the world, new cases of coronavirus disease are increasing rapidly and experts say the best solution is for citizens to monitor themselves.
New cases recorded in the state of Palmetto have broken three previous records since the beginning of June, reaching 542 on Monday.
With restrictions on businesses, beaches and mostly people suspended, it will be up to individuals to stop the accelerated spread of COVID-19. Governor Henry McMaster said he has no intention of putting the rules back in place.
The main medical institutions in the state, together with the Department of Health and Environmental Control of SC, released a joint statement on Tuesday urging South Carolina residents to continue wearing masks and maintaining a distance of 1.8 meters between them.
“We must commit to wearing face masks in public spaces – if we all wear them, we will all be protected. We are calling on you for your continued help.”
Worldwide, about 7 million cases and 400,000 deaths have been reported, according to the World Health Organization. The number of new coronavirus cases in a single day reached a historic record on Sunday, said the director-general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, at a news conference.
“The biggest threat now is complacency,” said Tedros.
The technology company Unacast, which has recorded how much Americans are moving, using cell phone data, gives South Carolina an “F” rating on social distance. State residents are moving as much as they normally would.
However, the recent increase in coronavirus cases is affecting some parts of the state more than others.
Michael Sweat, director of the Global Health Center at the Medical University of South Carolina, said the critical points may be rising due to community attitudes about the pandemic, advice from local leadership where people work and the presence of asylums.
Random chance also plays a role, he said.
He said without a doubt that the closure of the state in March controlled the effect of the coronavirus.
“It was incredibly effective,” he said. “This brought the epidemic to almost zero in this area.”
The outlook for Charleston and the rest of the state has changed, however. South Carolina cases are increasing in each of the ten most populous counties in the state.
Some pointed to the increase in testing as the reason that case counts have been impressive in recent days. Sweat called it “an easy excuse”, not based on facts. DHEC officials made it clear that this is not the only explanation for the increase in infections.
In fact, the number of tests done each day has been relatively stable, DHEC data show, but new cases are increasing.
Your models demand that this trend continues.
Since mid-April, DHEC has shared its projections with the public, or its best estimates of how many new cases the state can expect to register. The initial estimate was 8,000 cases of coronavirus in early May. This turned out to be true.
As the weeks went by, DHEC’s projections surpassed the numbers of coronavirus cases by an increasing margin, according to an analysis by the Post and Courier. His estimate was 850 very low cases last week, compared to 452 the week before.
Although the number of new cases each week has remained stable in late April and May, DHEC’s best estimate is that this number will double by the end of June. At that point, there could be up to 23,000 confirmed cases across the state.
DHEC did not respond to questions on Tuesday about its projections. But the agency said that while the number of hospital beds in use across the state is growing, the number is more or less where it would be in a normal year, meaning that medical facilities are not overloaded with COVID-19 patients.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at a conference on Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic is his “worst nightmare”. It is not near the end, he said.
To further explore Post and Courier’s analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Carolina, see postandcourier.com/covid19.
Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-607-4312. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.