SC coronavirus outbreak is growing at fourth fastest in the world, data show | COVID-19

An increase in coronavirus cases in South Carolina is outpacing the growth of the epidemic in almost every state and country, a Post and Courier analysis found.

The state of Palmetto ranks fourth in the world in increasing cases, accounting for the size of the population.

The New York Times released a similar analysis on Wednesday, placing South Carolina in third place in the world and drawing the attention of many. The Times analyzed data for a week, while the Post and Courier explored two weeks.

South Carolina is second only to Arizona, Florida and Bahrain, a country in the Middle East.

Adding up all the cases since the beginning of March and adjusting for the population, South Carolina is still behind the states with the biggest outbreaks of the year, including New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Still, health officials are increasingly concerned that Southern Carolineans are not taking the pandemic seriously enough and are shying away from personal responsibilities to wear masks and stand six feet away. Nearly 900 people died of COVID-19 in South Carolina.

The dizzying increase of the state in cases is concentrated along its coast. Charleston has topped the state’s daily totals since the third week of June, with 325 new cases registered in the county on Thursday.

Dr. David Cole, president of MUSC Health, said the city’s tourist economy and welcoming nature contributed to the resurgence of the disease.

“What makes Charleston, Charleston … is our weakness now,” said Cole.

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Waves of the pandemic in other parts of the world are lasting for about two months, according to an MUSC analysis released Wednesday.

An analysis by Johns Hopkins University on Wednesday placed a weekly average of new South Carolina cases on par with that of states that suffered heavy blows at the start of the pandemic. By that metric, South Carolina surpasses Texas and California, the country’s two largest states in population.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease official, told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that “whatever state is having a serious problem, that state should seriously consider closing,” said Fauci.

Without naming specific states, Fauci said that some leaders’ decisions to “skip the milestones” are frustrating.

“Some states admittedly opened very early and very quickly,” he said. “This is probably something that shouldn’t have happened.”

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During a news conference on Thursday, health experts in the region said a stoppage is not necessary at the moment. But the area is approaching that reality, said Anthony Jackson, director of operations at Roper St. Francis. If changes are not made immediately, the situation could “get a lot worse than we ever thought,” he said.

“Our healthcare professionals are becoming overwhelmed. We are at a critical point right now,” said Jackson. “We are rising rather than decreasing in terms of cases and we are at the point where some critical decisions will have to be made.”

Governor Henry McMaster, who began lifting restrictions on the state in the first week of May, has said so far that he is unwilling to reinstate the closing orders. McMaster said that implementing an order to stay at home again or enacting a mask order would violate citizens’ personal freedoms. The governor asked his constituents to take responsibility for containing the pandemic.

“You have the opportunity to invest in common sense,” said McMaster on July 1.

South Carolina is just a southern state that is facing a wave of new cases. Another new feature – a “COVID Atlas” county by county at the University of Chicago – shows how the pandemic has shifted to the south.

“The south coast is definitely lighting up,” said Marynia Kolak of the university’s Space Data Science Center. Kolak explained that several policies of disconnection and social distance between the states contributed to the spread throughout the region.

“It is not surprising that these (outbreaks) have started to spread and connect,” she added.

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Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-607-4312. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.