South Carolina Coronavirus Update: Testing Slows For Second Straight Day

Despite promises, Palmetto State not “accelerating” its testing ..

Confirmed or presumed positive coronavirus cases in South Carolina showed little movement on Wednesday, although the number of new completed tests in the Palmetto State declined for the second consecutive day. That raised additional questions about state leaders’ commitment to “accelerate” South Carolina’s anemic testing.

According to updated information supplied by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), there were 133 new confirmed or presumed positive coronavirus cases announced since the last batch of data was released on Tuesday. That brings the statewide total to 8,030 confirmed or presumed positive cases since health officials first began compiling data on March 6, 2020.

Take a look …

Unfortunately, only 2,726 additional completed tests were announced on Wednesday – which was less than the 3,171 new completed tests announced yesterday and well shy of the 5,511 new completed tests announced on Monday.

Between public and private laboratories, South Carolina has now completed a total of 95,866 tests.

Palmetto State leaders – led by governor Henry McMaster – have repeatedly said that expanded testing is a priority, but so far the numbers do not support that contention. For the past few weeks, South Carolina has ranked between No. 45 and No. 49 nationally in terms of the frequency with which it is testing its citizens.

In addition to updated case information, SCDHEC announced 7 additional coronavirus-related deaths – bringing the statewide death toll to 362 since officials began tracking the virus in early March.

By comparison, a total of 292 South Carolinians died during the 2017-2018 flu season, according to SCDHEC.

According to the agency, five of the newly announced fatalities were elderly citizens of Clarendon (2), Florence (1), Lexington (1), and Richland (1) counties, while two were middle-aged citizens residing in Greenville (1) and Marion (1) counties.

Richland county – which includes the state capital of Columbia, S.C. – has seen 59 deaths associated with the virus, by far the most of any county. Greenville county is second with 46 coronavirus-related fatalities.

As we exclusively reported yesterday, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has lowered its projected coronavirus death toll for the Palmetto State twice within the last week. According to the latest IHME projections, an estimated 469 South Carolinians will succumb to the first wave of the pandemic.

As recently as last Friday, IHME estimated the virus would claim the lives of 1,112 Palmetto State residents.

Speaking of projections, SCDHEC still believes it will hit 8,643 confirmed or presumed positive coronavirus cases by May 16 – an average of 204.3 cases per day between now and then. Previously, the agency had said cases would eclipse 8,700 by May 2 – two full weeks earlier.

By May 23, SCDHEC is projecting 9,593 total confirmed or presumed positive cases – an average of 156.3 cases per day between now and then. And by May 30, the agency is projecting 10,493 confirmed or presumed positive cases – an average of 144.8 cases per day between now and then.

(Click to view)

(Via: Getty Images)

Our view?

All of the data point to two inescapable conclusions: First, that the virus is nowhere near as bad as we were led to believe it was, and second, that the situation in the Palmetto State is improving by the day (even with the broad relaxation of previous containment measures).

We certainly remain concerned about the second wave of the virus … and continue to believe widespread, accurate and comprehensive testing for the virus and its antibodies is necessary to get a better sense of who might be vulnerable to it the next go-round.

But no matter how bad the second wave of the virus may be, the barely comprehensible economic fallout from the lockdowns associated with the first round (here and here) should give policymakers pause.

Bottom line? We simply cannot afford to shut down our economy like that again. Ever.


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