The Latest: High Demand For Virus Tests In South Carolina

By Lou Bezjak and

Noah Feit

COLUMBIA, S.C.

Lexington County reported the most new coronavirus cases as state health officials released daily totals Sunday.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced 569 new cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases to 141,909 and confirmed deaths to 3,144.

Health officials said the new cases are based on 4,118 tests, with the percent positive rising to 13.8% in South Carolina.

Which counties were affected?

Lexington County had the most new cases in the state Sunday with 80, while Richland County had 58, according to DHEC.

According to the state health agency, Lexington County has had a moderately high incidence rate for COVID-19 with 736 cases over the past two weeks and 7,278 overall.

Richland County also is in the moderately high incidence rate with 1,174 cases over the last 14 days and 15,250 overall since March.

Greenville and Berkeley counties reported 40 new cases.

Here are the numbers of COVID-19 deaths by county in the latest report: Aiken (1), Hampton (1) and Richland (2). The deaths in Aiken and Hampton were among elderly people, age 65 and over, and the Richland County death was a middle-age person between 35-64.

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How is COVID-19 trending in SC?

The number of daily new cases reported in South Carolina hit a high of 2,343 on July 18. In the month after, totals slowly dropped, including a stretch of 13 consecutive days when case counts were under 1,000.

The seven-day moving average of new cases rose again slightly in late August and early September, but it has since begun to dip again.

DHEC projects 4,066 new cases for the upcoming week.

State health officials have credited the overall decline in cases since July in part to a significant slowdown in virus activity in areas with face mask requirements and where residents are practicing social distancing. In particular, DHEC data have shown that the areas that implemented mask ordinances the earliest have seen the largest overall declines.

But health officials have also said lower testing totals have played a role as well. After regularly reporting more than 10,000 tests a day in July, DHEC has not recorded that many throughout August and September and bottomed out at under 3,000 tests reported in a day on multiple occasions.

Officials have said there has been no reduction in testing capacity, but demand has slowed as “testing fatigue” sets in. The Department of Health and Human Services deployed a federal “surge testing team” that has set up free testing sites and opportunities in the Columbia area over the next several weeks.

Currently, there are 336 mobile testing events scheduled through the end of October and there are 257 permanent COVID-19 testing facilities across the state.

To account for lower test totals, officials have highlighted the importance of percentage of tests run that come back positive. Nationally, about 8.3% of tests have turned up positive, according to the CDC.

In South Carolina, that percentage was 13.8 on Sunday. In all, 1,363,195 tests have been completed in the state since March.

Are all cases accounted for?

State health officials have estimated that around 86% of South Carolinians who contract the virus don’t get tested.

DHEC also has been recording probable cases and probable deaths. A probable case is someone who has not received a lab test result but has virus symptoms or a positive antibody test. A probable death is someone who has not gotten a lab test but whose death certificate lists COVID-19 as a cause of death or a contributing factor.

On Sunday, state health officials reported 16 new probable cases and no new probable deaths. That puts the total number of probable cases at 3,978 and total probable deaths at 182.

How are hospitals being impacted?

As of Sunday, the state reported 734 patients in South Carolina hospitals have the novel coronavirus, including 179 in intensive care and 108 on ventilators.

The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized at one time peaked at 1,723 on July 23.

In all, 7,934 of inpatient beds in S.C. hospitals are currently occupied, including 73.8% of ICU beds.

Source : https://www.newsobserver.com/news/state/south-carolina/article246046585.html

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