The coronavirus death toll in South Carolina – which was originally supposed to peter out by early June – is now projected to claim another 2,000 lives over the next three-and-a-half months. All told, as many as 9,000 South Carolinians could wind up succumbing to the virus by October 1 – a grim recalibration of expectations from just a few short weeks ago.
According to the latest estimates from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle, Washington, a total of 2,379 South Carolinians are expected to die of Covid-19 by October 1 – including the 588 Palmetto State residents whose deaths have been attributed to the virus over the last three months that state health officials have been tracking the virus. However, the institute warned that as many as 8,688 South Carolinians could die from the virus over that period.
The latest IHME estimates assume a gradual return to normal levels of “social mobility” over the next three months – including a pronounced rise in mobility in mid-August as schools ostensibly reopen across the Palmetto State.
On Thursday, SCDHEC officials announced 687 new confirmed or presumed positive coronavirus cases – shattering the previous daily record by more than 100 cases. They also announced 13 additional deaths related to the virus.
Also, after bottoming out at around three percent a month ago – the percent of tests coming back as positive has soared above 14 percent in recent days. Covid-related hospitalizations also briefly climbed above 500 earlier this month before settling at 494 based on Thursday’s data.
South Carolina currently ranks No. 40 nationally in testing frequency with 4,701 completed tests per 100,000 citizens, according to The Covid Tracking Project. The Palmetto State has ranked as high as No 36 on this metric and as low as No. 49.
Worth noting: For the first time on Thursday, SCDHEC addressed the issue of antibody testing – which could provide some indication of how many South Carolinians may have had the virus already. For months, this news outlet has called upon the agency to release information regarding Covid antibodies in the hopes of assessing the state’s exposure to the virus moving forward.
They are finally doing so … sort of.
“Antibody testing has become an important topic in the country’s COVID-19 response,” agency officials noted in their release.
SCDHEC said its public health laboratory “doesn’t perform antibody testing” however the agency “has included antibody tests (from private labs) in the total number of reported tests in South Carolina since March 10.”
Wait … what?
According to the agency, 27,609 antibody tests have been included in the 265,351 total tests it has reported since early March. However, the agency did not reveal how many of these antibody tests were positive – and, as noted above, it declined to add positive antibody tests to the rapidly expanding Covid-19 case count.
“(SCDHEC) has not included positive antibody test results in the total number of positive cases of COVID-19 in South Carolina,” the agency said in its statement. “The inclusion of antibody test numbers in our daily testing numbers has not affected the number of cases in the state, however, it has slightly decreased the percent positive.”
Wow … could health officials have possibly addressed this in a more confusing manner?
Once again, this totally rudderless agency is providing incomplete, inconsistent data to state leaders … even as it touts its “commitment” to the contrary.
“(SCDHEC) is committed to providing accurate and transparent data and will begin providing the specific break down of the number of antibody tests performed by private labs beginning with today’s website update,” the statement continued.
This news outlet will continue to push SCDHEC to provide more better, broader information to the public regarding coronavirus testing – which continues to lag well behind the rest of the nation despite state lawmakers pumping tens of millions of dollars in new money into the agency.
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