For the fifth consecutive day, South Carolina health officials reported double digit deaths related to the coronavirus pandemic. As we noted yesterday, prior to this week deaths in the Palmetto State had only topped double digits on consecutive days one time (April 14-15, 2020).
According to the latest data from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), there were also 226 new confirmed or presumed positive coronavirus cases since the last batch of data was released on Friday.
South Carolina is now reporting a total of 6,489 confirmed or presumed positive cases since health officials first began publishing case data on March 6, 2020.
Take a look …
In addition to the latest case numbers, SCDHEC announced eleven additional coronavirus-related fatalities on Saturday – bringing the statewide death toll to 267 (again, since the agency has been tracking the outbreak). Sixty of those deaths have been reported in the last five days – an uptick that comes ten days after the projected peak of fatalities.
Does this mean fatality projections will be amended higher in the coming days? Or will we start to see deaths decline?
We shall see …
The sustained uptick in daily deaths comes as state officials have begun relaxing the draconian restrictions they put in place as the first wave of the virus began sweeping across the state in mid-March. On Friday, S.C. governor Henry McMaster announced he was lifting a statewide “work or home” order that had been in place since April 7. McMaster also relaxed restrictions on restaurants.
As for the newly announced deaths, nine were elderly individuals from Edgefield (1), Florence (1), Greenville (1), Laurens (1), Lee (1), Lexington (1), and Richland (3) counties. Two were middle-aged individuals from Richland and Sumter counties.
SCDHEC did not disclose whether any of the newly announced deaths involved citizens with underlying health issues.
Richland county – which includes the state capital of Columbia, S.C. – led the state in total cases (946) and ranked second with 38 coronavirus-related deaths. Neighboring Lexington county had 414 reported case (fourth-highest in the state) and 16 deaths.
Greenville county – the most populous region of the Upstate – led the state with 39 coronavirus-related fatalities and ranked second with 749 total cases. Neighboring Spartanburg county had 302 total cases and 11 deaths.
Charleston county – the most populous region of the Lowcountry – had 456 total cases and seven deaths.
While case totals are higher in urban population centers, the virus is hitting rural, impoverished counties much harder in terms of the percentage of the population impacted. Rural Clarendon county, for example, had a case rate of 646.02 per 100,000 citizens based on the latest data – by far the highest rate of cases in the state. Nearby Lee county was next with a case rate of 404.09 per 100,000 citizens – followed by Kershaw county, the original epicenter of the outbreak in the Palmetto State, which had a case rate of 365.13 per 100,000 citizens.
Of the dozen South Carolina counties with the highest case rates – eleven of them were located in rural regions of the state.
To view the spread of the virus across South Carolina, here is the latest rolling “heat map” provided by SCDHEC …
(Click to view)
As of Saturday, the Palmetto State had completed a total of 61,616 total tests since early March – or 1,259 completed tests per 100,000 citizens. For the second day in a row, the state had the fourth-worst testing frequency in the nation – with only Ohio (1,256), Kansas (1,203) and Arizona (1,145) featuring lower completed tests per 100,000 citizens.
The Palmetto State entered April at the bottom of the national rankings in terms of testing – as we exclusively reported at the time – but at one point had climbed to No. 35 nationally in testing frequency.
Not anymore, sadly …
Anemic testing hamstrings the ability of local officials to make informed decisions. Until we can accurately peg what percentage of our state’s citizens have already had the virus – we are all just shooting in the dark when it comes to making policy recommendations. Although the mounting job losses and industry devastation we have witnessed over the last six weeks makes extending the shutdowns prohibitive.
Also, supporters of reopening the economy make solid health care arguments that such a move is in our best interests …
This news outlet is committed to providing our readers with the very latest, most relevant information we have related to this unfolding global story – and all of the stories we cover. To check out more of our coronavirus coverage, click on the link below …
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