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Charleston mayor foresees more modifications once COVID-19 ordinances expire next week

DHEC logs 398 new cases, 4 deaths

Charleston mask sign.jpg (copy) (copy)

Signs posted on Market Street around the City Market remind visitors to the area of the mask ordinance that is in effect on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Charleston. File/Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said many of the city's coronavirus-related ordinances will expire May 12 and he foresees further modifications will be put in place. 

At a news conference May 3 with the Medical University of South Carolina, Tecklenburg said the city will continue to recommend mask wearing for people who haven't been vaccinated and encourage folks to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

"Frankly, I will predict it will become more on a recommended basis rather than a required basis," Tecklenburg said. 

City Council will meet again May 11.

MUSC President Dr. David Cole said about half of Charleston's population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. He said the current immunity among city denizens, including those vaccinated and those within three months of having an infection, is in the 60 percent to 65 percent range.

And while infection rate numbers have been dropping, COVID-19 is still significant in a much smaller population of people, Cole said.

On May 3, only 56 new confirmed coronavirus cases were reported in the tri-county area. 

"So if you're not vaccinated, you are the high-risk group," Cole said.

Statewide numbers

New cases reported: 398 confirmed, 124 probable.

Total cases in S.C.: 483,317 confirmed, 97,477 probable.

Percent positive: 4.3 percent.

New deaths reported: 4 confirmed, 0 probable.

Total deaths in S.C.: 8,383 confirmed, 1,141 probable. 

Percent of ICU beds filled: 68 percent.

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How S.C. ranks

South Carolina ranks 41st in the nation regarding the number of vaccines administered per 100,000 people as of April 29, according to the CDC.

Hardest-hit areas

Greenville County (56), Richland County (43) and York County (45) saw the highest totals of newly confirmed cases.

What about tri-county?

Charleston County had 30 new cases on May 3, while Berkeley had 15 and Dorchester 11.

Deaths

Three of the new confirmed deaths reported were patients 35 to 64, and one was a patient age 65 and older.

Hospitalizations

Of the 409 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of May 3, 105 were in the ICU and 55 were using ventilators.

What do experts say?

Cole said MUSC now has more COVID-19 vaccines than a demand for them. Both public messaging and getting people to talk to those they trust are equally important in overcoming vaccine hesitancy.

"So the more momentum we can get at the ground level, I think the quicker we're going to reach out goals," Cole said. 

Each day the virus lives in the community, variants have the chance to emerge and adapt. 

"Each new variant creates the possibility of a disease emerging that's even worse than the one we know," Cole said. 

The final hurdle between Charleston residents and a return to normalcy is achieving herd immunity in the community and state, Tecklenburg said. 

Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-607-4312. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.

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