See why health officials say Upstate leads SC in COVID-19 cases

Marcus Navarro

| Greenville News

Upstate is not leading South Carolina in coronavirus cases simply because of its population.

According to estimates by the Census Bureau, the 11 counties that make up the Upstate region have a population of just over 1.5 million people, while the 12 Midlands counties have just under 1.5 million inhabitants. However, despite similar populations, the interior of the state averages more than 300 daily cases of COVID-19 than the Midlands, according to the state’s Department of Environmental Control and Health.

Population density may be to blame. Upstate has more people in a smaller area than the Midlands, Lowcountry or Pee Dee regions. With a virus that spreads around other people, it makes sense that there are more cases where people are in close contact with each other.

But health officials said the community’s behavior was also to blame.

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What they asked for was for people to wear masks, to avoid physical contact with people outside their homes and to avoid large meetings, and they were frustrated by the response from residents of the interior of the state.

“It is always difficult to talk about this because I think you are feeling the frustration that we all have in healthcare now,” said Dr. Christopher Lombardozzi, medical director of the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, during a news conference on Monday. “We know what needs to be done. We also know how difficult this is from an individual perspective. “

During Monday’s press conference, the leaders of all five health systems in the interior urged the public to continue to follow the guidelines and not to let their guard down, especially with Christmas and New Year’s coming.

Inland counties have produced more than their fair share of cases in recent weeks. Since Thanksgiving, Greenville County, which accounts for 10.2% of the state’s population, has been responsible for 14.9% of the state’s cases. Spartanburg County, 6.2% of the state’s population, was responsible for 8.3% of cases in the same period, while Anderson County, 3.9% of the population, was responsible for 4.5% of cases and Pickens County, 2.5% of the population, represented 4.3% of cases.

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Lowcountry, in the southeastern region of the state, currently has the largest control of COVID-19 in South Carolina. As of December 20, it is the only region in the state with a case rate below 5,000 per 100,000 people and the only region with less than 1,000 deaths – despite having more than 260,000 more people and a denser population than Pee Dee in the Northeast region of the state.

What Lowcountry leads is the number of local mask ordinances, according to the state’s Emergency Management Division. It has five municipal ordinances and 24 municipal ones that require or suggest the use of masks.

Upstate has a municipal decree in Oconee and eight municipal decree-masks.

Midlands has no municipal decrees, but 15 municipal decrees.

Pee Dee has three district and nine municipal decrees.

In early December, councilor Ennis Fant presented a resolution to encourage the use of masks. This resolution is currently on the Public Security Committee and is unlikely to be voted on until January, when three new board members take office.

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Health officials in the interior of the state say they were not surprised to see the number of cases increase after Thanksgiving.

“If you go through Greenville and the surrounding area, and walk in areas like big stores, as well as hear that people are getting together, it’s not surprising that we have so many numbers that we have in Upstate,” Dr. Marcus Blackstone, clinical director at Bon Secours St. Francis, said during Monday’s briefing. “I mean, when you look at the counties of Greenville and Spartanburg – running higher and neck to neck – from that point of view, it’s pretty obvious why this happened. There is a segment of the population that is tired of COVID, like all of us, and just said: ‘You know what, I’m just not going to do that’ ”.

DHEC announced 2,087 new cases and 15 new deaths on Tuesday.

Click here if you can’t see the chart below, and a list of current county and county mask laws can be found here.