First Two U.S. Cases Of South African COVID-19 Variant Reported In South Carolina

Here’s what you need to know…

South Carolina state health officials reported the nation’s first two cases of the COVID-19 strain that was first detected in South Africa.

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) officials said Thursday both cases are adults. One is from the Lowcountry region and one is from the Pee Dee region.

SCDHEC officials said they would not release any further information on the two adults at this time.

The new COVID-19 strain, called the B 2.351 variant, is particularly concerning because “it might be more effective of spreading person-to-person,” a leading COVID-19 researcher told the Guardian.

“The B. 1.351 variant, first identified in South Africa in December and containing mutations that appear to enhance transmission, is considered by scientists to be even more worrisome than the more widely publicized B.1.1.7 variant first seen in the United Kingdom,” the Washington Post reported.

However, the good news is that experts believe vaccines will work in protecting the population from this variant and there is no evidence to suggest this strain is deadlier than the others.

“The arrival of the SARS-CoV-2 variant in our state is an important reminder to all South Carolinians that the fight against this deadly virus is far from over,” Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Interim Public Health Director, said. “While more COVID-19 vaccines are on the way, supplies are still limited. Every one of us must recommit to the fight by recognizing that we are all on the front lines now. We are all in this together.”

South Carolina is one of 12 states in the U.S. without a statewide mask mandated — though a majority of larger municipalities have implemented face covering laws.

In a tweet, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said the two new cases are not “a reason to panic.

Vaccine Problems in SC

From the beginning, South Carolina leadership has bungled its COVID-19 response — and recent statistics show that the situation has only worsened.

A WalletHub study released last week shows that South Carolina is the fifth worst state state for COVID-19 safety. The study used data from the CDC and the COVID Tracking Project and ranked the states based on transmission, positive testing, hospitalizations, vaccinations, and death.

The recent data shows South Carolina ranking as:

  • 47th for Vaccination Rate
  • 50th for Positive Testing Rate
  • 45th For Hospitalization Rate
  • 39th for Death Rate
  • 24th for Transmission Rate

According to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of January 28, 2021 only 10,648 vaccines had been distributed for every 100,000 South Carolinians.

That means South Carolina ranks dead last in all states and territories for vaccine distribution with worse numbers than the Federal States of Micronesia (18,718), Guam (20,282) and the Virgin Islands (16,121).

That’s just to name a few — South Carolina is literally worse than everyone in the U.S. right now when it comes to vaccine distribution. 

In terms of vaccines administered, South Carolina is faring slightly better – ranking No. 42 nationally on this metric with 6,351 vaccines administered per every 100,000 of its citizens.

Last week, SCDHEC officials announced that the agency’s politically appointed board — instead of public health experts — would determine how best to appropriate scare vaccines at the county level.

“Our board, they represent each of the congressional districts, and so they are out in those communities, and they have both rural communities in their districts and they have urban communities or counties in their districts,” the agency interim leader told state lawmakers.

This story will be updated….



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