A group of South Carolina public health officials issued a joint statement on Tuesday in response to rising coronavirus case numbers in the Palmetto State – urging citizens to wear face masks and practice social distancing.
Raising the alarm? Officials with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), the S.C. Hospital Association (SCHA), the S.C. Medical Association (SCMA) and the S.C. Office of Rural Health (SCORH) – all of whom issued a statement which “strongly urge(d) all South Carolinians to actively help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save the lives of our fellow residents by practicing physical social distancing and properly using face masks.”
“There is rapidly growing medical evidence that the use of face masks along with social distancing can greatly reduce the transmission of the COVID-19 virus in public spaces and places where people at higher risk of severe illness and death from this virus are likely to be present,” the statement noted. “We must all commit to wearing face masks in public spaces – if we all wear them, we’ll all be protected.”
Officials issued the release after SCHDEC published data on Monday which showed a new daily record of 542 confirmed or presumed positive coronavirus cases – as well as data which showed Covid-19-related hospitalizations climbing above 500 for the first time.
The coronavirus-related death toll also continued to climb – and is currently projected to reach 841 by August 4, according to the latest estimate from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle, Washington.
That projection is down modestly from the most recent estimate of 865 projected deaths issued late last week. So far, 557 South Carolinians have succumbed to the virus, according to the latest SCDHEC data.
“Together, we can turn the tide on the COVID-19 pandemic and save lives in South Carolina,” the joint statement from the health agencies/ associations concluded.
Here is a look at the trend lines for new coronavirus cases (and deaths) in South Carolina …
Obviously, that is not a good looking chart … and while part of the case spike is due to the fact testing has increased to some degree in South Carolina over the last few weeks, the percentage of positive tests has also continued to rise.
Which is concerning …
Having said all of that, as we have noted in previous reports (here and here) we continue to believe the threat to most Americans under the age of 65 – particularly those not residing in a nursing home – remains low. And that people who have the virus but are asymptomatic are not spreading it to anywhere near the extent it was believed (although individuals who are pre-symptomatic can spread it).
Furthermore, it is important to bear in mind that as of June 1, 2020, the vast majority of coronavirus-related deaths across America (80.7 percent) have occurred among Americans aged 65 and older – and specifically those residing in nursing homes and assisted living facilities (41.8 percent of all deaths). These numbers come courtesy of an ongoing study released by Gregg Girvan and Avik Roy on behalf of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP.org).
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Needless to say we will continue keeping close tabs on the virus. And despite our misgivings as to its ostensible severity, we support efforts by health care leaders to encourage responsible risk mitigation – particularly among older citizens with existing, underlying health concerns.
We do not, however, support those calling for a return to the economically crippling lockdowns imposed on citizens and businesses back in late March and early April.
What is your view on the latest announcement by health officials? Vote in our poll and post your thoughts in our always-lively comments section below …
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