Virus count tops 9,000 while weekly tally almost steady for seven weeks

A graph from DHEC shows the weekly COVID-19 case count exceeding 1,000 cases per week for the past seven weeks and on-pace two days into this week to exceed 1,000 again.

The total number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in South Carolina now has exceeded 9,000 people and the death toll now stands at 399, according to the latest report from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Of those confirmed 9,056 cases statewide, about 990 cases have affected healthcare workers on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.

Meanwhile, weekly case counts have exceeded 1,000 new COVID-19 positives recorded each week for the past seven weeks, with 259 confirmed cases just two days into this new week. Last week’s total, the first under Gov. Henry McMaster’s easing of restrictions and with testing increasing across the state, was up more than 200 cases from the previous week.

“As South Carolina increases testing, there will likely be more laboratory-confirmed cases. The total number of tests performed yesterday statewide was 3,236 and the percent positive was 4.2 percent,” according to the latest DHEC data release. “When the percent positive is low, it may indicate that more widespread testing is being performed and the percent positive may more accurately reflect how much disease is present in the community.”

The state health agency has set a goal of testing two percent of the population (110,000 people) per month in May and June. As of Monday, more than 60,000 tests had been conducted by DHEC during the month of May.

Last Thursday and Friday in two separate mobile testing events in Saluda and Ridge Spring, DHEC, the Saluda County Emergency Management Division and their healthcare partners tested 526 people. Yesterday (Monday, another 113 tests were administered on a second day of testing in Saluda.

In the latest DHEC stats, Lexington County recorded seven new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total countywide case count to 518. In two Batesburg-Leesville zip codes (29006 and 29070), the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases – with no mobile testing opportunities so far and none scheduled – now stands at 51.

DHEC estimates that because “for every known case of COVID-19 there could be up to nine people with the virus who remain unidentified in the community,” the actual number of cases (diagnosed and undiagnosed) in the Batesburg-Leesville area could exceed 360 cases.

The newly-calculated recovery rate in South Carolina, according to DHEC, is 85 percent. Beyond the 399 fatal cases, about 15 percent of the confirmed coronavirus patients so far remain symptomatic.

In South Carolina, where African-Americans make up 27 percent of the total population, about 45 percent of the cases recorded during this COVID-19 outbreak have been among the black community. The coronavirus infection rate also disproportionately affects low-income people in the Palmetto State.