Here at FITSNews, we are closely watching the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in South Carolina as the daily cases have surged in the last two weeks.
Hospitalizations give us a better indication of the current impact coronavirus has on the state.
On Tuesday, 571 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized across South Carolina, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC). This is the highest number reported since the state began tracking the metric in early May.
South Carolina has been named in several national news articles as one of a handful of states seeing increasing hospitalization numbers.
Take a look below (note the empty spaces indicate days in which SCDHEC did not report hospitalization numbers).
South Carolina was one of the first states to lift COVID-19 lockdowns and open businesses, beginning on May 4.
As of Monday, Beaufort County showed the highest hospital bed occupancy rate at 85 percent capacity.
Beaufort County includes Hilton Head Island, where the RBC Heritage PGA tournament will be played without spectators this week. Hilton Head’s COVID-19 cases have increased three-fold since Memorial Day, particularly around the point tourism surged on the island.
Five Thirty Eight analyzed the number of at-risk residents in metropolitan areas across the United States, combined with the number of hospitals and ICU beds in those regions for its study.
“By that measure, one of the most vulnerable regions for which we have data is the Hilton Head Island metropolitan area, where about 63 percent of adults are at high risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 and there are approximately 3,900 high-risk individuals for every ICU bed,” author Likhitha Butchireddygari wrote in the Five Thirty Eight story.
According to SCDHEC, Horry, Chesterfield, York, Spartanburg, Anderson, Marion, and Sumter counties are reporting more than 75 percent hospital bed occupancy.
Some experts are concerned that South Carolina’s surging cases from early June could max out hospital capacity in the next few weeks.
Tuesday’s hospitalization totals showed an 18 percent increase from the previous 14-day average of 482 COVID-19 hospitalizations per day and a 37 percent increase from the May daily average of 417 COVID-19 patients a day in South Carolina hospitals.
“As of this morning, 3,320 inpatient hospital beds are available and 7,175 are in use, which is a 68.37% statewide hospital bed utilization rate. Of the 7,175 inpatient beds currently used, 571 are occupied by patients who have either tested positive or are under investigation for COVID-19,” SCDHEC said in Tuesday’s news release.
SCDHEC announced 595 new cases Tuesday as daily reported cases have been mostly ticking upward for the last few weeks — increasing at higher rates than most of the country.
Take a look at the daily cases reported since March 6.
For the past 13 days, South Carolina officials have reported more than 350 daily COVID-19 cases. Keep in mind, before May 30, South Carolina hadn’t reported more than 300 new daily cases ever.
In April, South Carolina averaged 170 COVID-19 cases per day. In May, that number jumped to 190 cases per day. So far in June, that number surged to an average of 509 new coronavirus cases per day.
The recent surge is not necessarily due to the state’s expanded testing. South Carolina still ranked 40th in the nation this week when it comes to coronavirus testing per capita, according to data from The Covid Tracking Project.
The percentage of positive cases per tests has also been ticking upward, another alarming sign that COVID-19 isn’t anywhere near contained in South Carolina.
On Tuesday, 13.7 percent of tests had positive results.
Greenville County — the largest county in South Carolina with a population of 451,225 — is the state’s epicenter for coronavirus with 3,072 total reported cases. Just two weeks ago, it had 1,619 total reported cases.
Richland County — the state’s second most populous county that was the epicenter for the virus for more than a month — now has the second highest cases at 2,316.
Horry County now has the third highest number of cases at 1,297.
In total, 19,990 have tested positive for COVID-19 in South Carolina and 602 people have died.
On Tuesday, five people died from COVID-19 in SC.
“Three of the deaths occurred in elderly individuals from Chesterfield (1), Colleton (1), and Richland (1) counties, and two of the deaths occurred middle-aged individuals from Dillon (1) and Richland (1) counties,” SCDHEC said.
So far this month, South Carolina has averaged about seven deaths per day, which is down from April at about 8 COVID-19 deaths per day.
The average age for a COVID-19 patient in SC is 44.5 years old.
The recovery rate for those who have tested positive for coronavirus has decreased in the last week, dropping four percentage points from 83 percent last Monday to 79 percent yesterday.
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