Almost 3,600 South Carolinians tested positive for COVID-19, authorities announced on Wednesday, worrying experts who warned against vacation trips and meetings.
The SC Department of Health and Environmental Control asked residents of the state of Palmetto to stay home for Christmas, modifying holiday traditions using Zoom or single-house celebrations. Those who choose to attend meetings should take the test and avoid traveling with other people, if possible.
The state has only exceeded 3,000 cases a day a few times, but authorities have warned that a second increase in cases may occur two weeks after the holiday takes people out of their homes.
New cases reported: 3,599, which is 2,178 percent higher than the 158 registered on March 31, the day Governor Henry McMaster ordered the closing of non-essential deals.
Total cases in SC: 261,024, plus 21,206 probable cases
New deaths reported: 49
Total deaths in SC: 4,651 confirmed, 377 probable
Total tests in SC: 3,409,193
Hospitalized patients: 1,671
Percentage of positive tests, average of 7 days: 22.5 percent. Five percent or less of the tests with positive results is a good sign that the spread of the virus is slowing, say the researchers.
Most affected areas
South Carolina’s top counties for new coronavirus cases reported on Wednesday were Greenville, 702; Spartanburg, 287; and Richland, 266.
What about the tri-county?
Charleston County had 99 new cases; Berkeley, 46; and Dorchester, 52.
Nine of the 49 deaths reported on Wednesday were from patients aged 35 to 64, and the rest were 65 or older.
They lived in Aiken, Anderson, Charleston, Cherokee, Dillon, Florence, Greenville, Horry, Laurens, Marion, Marlboro, Oconee, Pickens, Richland, Spartanburg, Williamsburg and York.
Of 1,671 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday, 355 were in intensive care and 142 were on ventilators.
What do the experts say?
The authorities continue to urge southern Carolinians to take precautions, such as wearing masks or other facial covers, social distance and frequent hand washing.
They also recommend that anyone who believes they have been exposed to the virus or who are developing symptoms get tested. Those who live in the community or cannot socially distance themselves should be tested monthly, DHEC advised.
Go to scdhec.gov/findatest to find a test site in your area.
Talk to Sara Coello at 843-937-5705 and follow her on Twitter @smlcoello.