Zip code data released by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) this week showed a surge in new coronavirus cases in Charleston county, South Carolina – and sixty new cases in addition to the ones the agency announced on Thursday afternoon.
According to the zip code file – which was updated by the agency at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Thursday, March 26, 2020 – there were 516 total coronavirus cases in the state.
By far and away the most coronavirus cases (91) were from zip codes in Charleston county – which would make the Lowcountry metropolitan area the new epicenter for the virus in the Palmetto State, assuming the data is accurate.
Richland county – which includes the state capital of Columbia, S.C. – had 65 cases, according to the zip code data. That put it in second place behind Charleston.
Both Charleston and Columbia have passed so-called “shelter in place” orders in the hopes of stopping the spread of the virus, although the legality of those orders has been called into question.
Kershaw county – the original epicenter of the outbreak – had 60 cases, third-highest total of any county in the state.
Late Thursday, SCDHEC announced it was tracking 456 confirmed or presumptive positive cases since the first coronavirus cases were announced earlier this month – including 60 cases from Charleston county.
Here is the zip code data …
(Click to view)Covid-Zip-Code-Analysis-3_27_2020
SCDHEC is releasing zip code data in response to requests from municipal leaders who say they need the information to protect first responders from contracting the virus. According to our sources, local governments actually wanted the agency to cough up specific names and addresses of South Carolinians who have tested positive for the virus – but SCDHEC declined to reveal that information.
Rightfully, in our estimation …
Still, the availability of testing – and the reliability of the data derived from it – has been a major issue as local and state leaders in South Carolina struggle to get on the same page in responding to the spread of the virus.
First and foremost, it is becoming abundantly clear the cases being announced on a daily basis by SCDHEC do not in any way, shape or form represent the true extent of the spread of the virus in the Palmetto State.
In fact, in announcing its Thursday data SCDHEC confirmed something we first reported three days ago – that the agency’s already limited testing for the virus had been slowed down even further due to “shortages of critical test processing material … including the reagents used to conduct the coronavirus tests.”
Beyond that, as we have consistently pointed out, private labs are also conducting tests … and SCDHEC does not always include data from these labs in its releases.
There is another larger, looming question: How many people have had coronavirus already? You know … before governments across the country were tracking its spread?
Obviously, the lack of accurate and timely data makes it extremely difficult for policymakers to take informed, decisive action.
Again, we just don’t know how many people currently have it, how many people have previously had it … nor do we know the true severity/ mortality rates associated with the virus.
Nationwide, as of Friday afternoon an estimated 93,568 Americans had tested positive for the virus while 1,433 (1.5 percent of the known positive tests) have died as a result of complications from it, according to a database maintained by The New York Times.
Globally, there are 509,164 confirmed coronavirus cases in 199 countries and territories – with 23,335 deaths (4.6 percent of the known positive tests), according to the latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO).
UPDATE: The latest South Carolina data …
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