That’s why health officials say Upstate leads SC in COVID-19 cases

Marcus Navarro

| Greenville News

Upstate does not lead South Carolina in cases of coronavirus just because of its population.

According to Census Bureau estimates, 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 people. Despite similar populations, Upstate has, on average, more than 300 more daily COVID-19 cases than the Midlands, according to the State Department of Health and Environmental Control.

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

But health officials have said that society’s behavior is also to blame.

More: South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has COVID-19, tests show

What they have asked is for people to wear masks, to avoid physical contact with them outside their households and to avoid large gatherings, and they have been frustrated by the response of Upstate residents.

“It’s always hard to talk about this because I think you feel the frustration that we all have in healthcare right now,” says Dr. Christopher Lombardozzi, chief executive of Spartanburg Regional Healthcare Systems, during a press briefing 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, leaders from all five Upstate health systems urged the public to continue to follow the guidelines and not let their guard down, especially with Christmas and New Year just around the corner.

State 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 accounted for 14.9% of the state’s cases. Spartanburg County, 6.2% of the state’s population, accounted for 8.3% of the cases within the same time frame, while Anderson County, 3.9% of the population, accounted for 4.5% of the cases and Pickens County, 2, 5% of the population, has accounted for 4.3% of cases.

More: Upstate health experts warn that COVID increase after Christmas could overwhelm hospitals

Lowcountry in the southeastern part 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 number of cases below 5,000 per 100,000 people and the only region with fewer than 1,000 deaths – this despite having more than 260,000 more people and a denser population than Pee Dee in the northeastern area of ​​the state.

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

Upstate has a county ordinance, in Oconee, and eight municipal worm ordinances.

Midlands has no county ordinances but 15 municipal ordinances.

Pee Dee has three counties and nine municipal ordinances.

In early December, County Councilor Ennis Fant introduced a resolution to encourage the use of worms. That resolution is currently in the Committee on Public Safety and will probably not be voted on until January when three new Council members are sworn in.

More: DHEC elects new director as COVID-19 pandemic continues to increase in South Carolina

State health officials say they were not surprised to see the number of cases climb after Thanksgiving.

“If you walk through Greenville and the surrounding area and walk into areas like big box stores, as well as hearing people have gatherings, it does not surprise us why we have the numbers we have in Upstate,” says Dr. Marcus Blackstone, clinical director of Bon Secours St. Francis, said during Monday’s review. “I mean, when you look at Greenville and Spartanburg counties – running higher and neck-and-neck – from that point of view, it’s pretty obvious why this has happened. There’s a segment of the population that’s just tired of COVID, which we everyone is, and they just said, ‘You know what, I’m not going to do this.’ “

DHEC announced 2087 new cases and 15 new deaths on Tuesday.

Click here if you can not see the diagram below, and a list of current county and municipal worm regulations can be found here.