The coronavirus pandemic has increased stress and anxiety among Palmetto State families; over 100,000 of those families say money for food is scarce and nearly half the parents here say child care has been disrupted, according to a new report by the Children’s Trust of South Carolina.
The report was released as state health officials reported 1,479 new cases and 26 deaths on Friday. The state Department of Health and Environmental Control also said it would delay release of case counts and deaths by a day beginning Nov. 27 "to enhance the quality of information."
To combat economic insecurity and other impacts caused by COVID-19, the Children’s Trust said it encourages strengthening child care subsidies, creating more jobs with decent wages and ensuring children and families have access to food and other necessities.
"Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, South Carolina ranked No. 41 nationally in overall child well-being," the report, released Friday, says. "Since March 2020, this public health emergency has shown that disparities in housing, health care, education and economic opportunity lead to greater vulnerabilities for families, especially children."
The organization's CEO, Sue Williams, explained the issue in an email accompanying the report. “When families are under a tremendous amount of strain, we know there is a greater likelihood of child abuse and neglect. This report identifies what we can do to help families be more stable, ensuring children have the resources to thrive and the ability to weather future crises.”
Among the study's findings:
- 40 percent of residents experiencing unemployment have a child in the home.
- 90,395 households with children in school have no regular access to broadband internet, creating educational disparities.
- 43 percent of parents and caregivers report that child care has been disrupted.
- Almost 100,000 households report their children are not eating enough because of high food costs.
- 83 percent of parents and caregivers are experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety.
“The pandemic has exposed how vulnerable conditions are for children,” Williams said. “Let us learn from this experience and emerge with stronger, more reliable strategies and systems that serve young people and their families.”
New cases reported: 1,479, which is 836 percent higher than the 158 tallied on March 31, the day Gov. Henry McMaster ordered nonessential businesses to close.
Total cases in S.C.: 191,021, plus 12,140 probable cases
New deaths reported: 26, with five probable deaths
Total deaths in S.C.: 3,949 confirmed, 282 probable
Total tests in S.C.: 2,458,520
Hospitalized patients: 808
Percent of positive tests, seven-day average: 14.7 percent. Five percent of tests or fewer returning positive results is a good sign the virus’ spread is slowing, researchers say.
The top South Carolina counties for new coronavirus cases on Thursday were Greenville, 205; Spartanburg, 116; and Richland, 101.
What about the tri-county?
Charleston County reported 95 new cases, Berkeley logged 22 and Dorchester reported 25.
Of the 26 new deaths that DHEC reported on Friday, five were middle-aged patients aged 35 to 64. The rest were elderly patients 65 or older.
They lived in Anderson, Charleston, Dillon, Florence, Greenville, Greenwood, Horry, Kershaw, Lexington, Pickens, Spartanburg, Sumter and York counties.
Of the 808 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Friday, 203 were in intensive care and 106 were on ventilators.
What do experts say?
Authorities continue to urge South Carolinians to take precautions such as wearing masks or other face coverings, social distancing and frequently washing hands.
They also urge anyone who believes they’ve been exposed to the virus or who is developing symptoms to get tested. Those out in the community or not able to socially distance should get tested monthly, DHEC advised.
Go to scdhec.gov/findatest to find a testing site in your area.
DHEC-sponsored testing is free and open to anyone regardless of symptoms. Pre-registering is recommended. Results are available within 72 hours; visit scdhec.gov/gettested.
Testing at DHEC Public Health Departments is ongoing in the Lowcountry:
Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Goose Health Center, 106 Westview Drive, Goose Creek.
Tuesday, 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m., Moncks Corner Health Department, 109 W. Main St., Moncks Corner.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Northwoods Public Health Clinic, 2070 Northbrook Blvd., Suite #A20, North Charleston.
Saturday, 11 a.m.–1 p.m., R.B. Stall High School, 3625 Ashley Phosphate Road, North Charleston.
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m., Summerville Health Department, 500 N. Main St., Suite 9, Summerville.