Despite increasing pressure from South Carolina leaders and residents, Gov. Henry McMaster has not issued a statewide stay-at-home order to stop the spread of the global coronavirus pandemic.
With over 1,500 cases and 31 deaths caused by COVID- 19, South Carolina is still at the beginning of the bell curve — with the pandemic projected to peak on April 28, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). An estimated 1,098 people will die from coronavirus in South Carolina by August — and that’s “assuming full social distancing through May 2020.”
While there is no shelter-in-place order in South Carolina right now, McMaster has issued the following orders, punishable by law enforcement:
- Schools closed through at least April 30 (March 15)
- Restaurants and bars only open for carry-out services (March 17)
- Illegal for groups of 3 or more gathered in a public place (March 21)
- Mandatory 14-day quarantine for visitors from coronavirus hotspots (March 27)
- Public access to all beaches and waterways closed (March 30)
- Non-essential businesses closed (March 31)
But many residents in South Carolina want strict measures in place. More than 20,000 people have signed a change.org petition in favor of a shelter-in-place lockdown order.
A look of graphics and charts give us a better look at how South Carolina compares to other states’ COVID-19 response.
12 states without stay-at-home lockdown orders…
South Carolina is one of a dozen states still without government-mandated stay-at-home orders to fight the spread of coronavirus as of April 2, according to The New York Times.
Looking at the COVID-19 cases in those states..
Of the 12 states without statewide shelter-in-place orders, only two states (Missouri and Utah) have more coronavirus cases per-capita than South Carolina, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
A breakdown of those 12 states…
South Carolina also has a higher COVID-19 death-per-capita rate than nine of those 12 states.
And SC is behind in testing…
South Carolina is by far the worst of those 12 states when it comes to testing per capita —at No. 48 in the entire nation, according to data compiled from Buzzfeed News.
According to the data, for every 100,000 South Carolina residents, only 129 have been tested for coronavirus. To compare, New York has tested 1,116 people for every 100,000 people. Washington has tested 1,043 for every 100,00 residents. States such as West Virginia, Missouri, North Carolina, Idaho, and Florida have testing rates that double South Carolina’s rate.
Because South Carolina is testing at insufficient and below-average rates compared to other states, it’s highly likely that our coronavirus cases per capita rates are much higher.
We have frequently pointed out the numbers released by SCDHEC do not represent a complete picture of the spread of the virus in the Palmetto State.
Not all data from private labs is included, and SCDHEC has acknowledged that supply shortages have severely limited its testing capabilities. Also, not everyone experiencing potential coronavirus symptoms is getting testing – and beyond that, we keep hearing from many South Carolinians who believe they had the virus long before the government began tracking cases.
And factor in social distancing…
Gov. McMaster has routinely applauded the people of South Carolina for “doing what they’re told” and mostly “following orders” when it comes to social distancing. Yet — data tracking resident’s movement and photos on social media show the exact opposite.
In fact, the New York Times reported that people in Greenville County, South Carolina travelled more than any other county in the United States on Friday.
Realtime data provided by Unacast — a company that purchases data from cell phone companies — shows that SC has gotten increasingly worse at social distancing in the past few days.
On March 24, South Carolina got a “B” in social distancing for reducing its average mobility by 34 percent from Feb. 26 through March 21. By March 28, South Carolina’s rating dropped to a “D” as more people have apparently traveled and the state’s average mobility has only been reduced by 18 percent since Feb. 28. The study tracks this by calculating distance traveled through cell phone data.
Unicast recently released data on South Carolina residents’ change in non-essential visits (tracking cell phones to places like hotels, gyms, and clothing stores). South Carolinians only reduced these trips by about 55 percent (below national average of 65 percent) between. Feb. 24 and March 28.
Finally, look at the projection charts.
IHME data shows that South Carolina won’t see the peak of this pandemic for 26 days when an estimated 31 people will die every day from coronavirus from April 28 – 30.
And once it peaks, experts predict South Carolina will continue to see deaths from coronavirus at least until August.
In the best case scenario with South Carolinians practicing strict social distancing through at least May, 588 people will die from COVID in the next few months. In the worst case scenario, around 1,600 will die from the virus.
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