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New DHEC tool could help South Carolinians more easily keep tabs on COVID-19

DHEC reported 784 new SC coronavirus cases and 18 new deaths on Friday

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This electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. File/AP

South Carolina public health officials released a tool Friday they hope will help residents more easily track key data in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. 

The "Key Indicators" dashboard is accessible on the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control's main website and features information for the current day, previous day and previous 14 days. 

Officials say it's important to remember that none of the individual elements should be viewed as more important than another. The data should be taken as a whole in order to give an accurate picture of where South Carolina is headed. 

Here's what's tracked:

  • Rate of cases per 100,000
  • Rate of tests per 100,000
  • Percent positive
  • Deaths by date
  • Hospitalizations
  • ICU hospitalizations
  • COVID-19 patients

To view the dashboard, go to scdhec.gov/covid19, scroll down and click on Key Indicators.

Statewide numbers

New cases reported: 784, which is 396 percent higher than the 158 tallied on March 31, the day Gov. Henry McMaster ordered nonessential businesses to close.

Total cases in S.C.: 161,235, plus 7,314 probable cases

New deaths reported: 18

Total deaths in S.C.: 3,545 confirmed, 232 probable

Total tests in S.C.: 1,838,134

Hospitalized patients: 718

Percent of positive tests, seven-day average: 11.7 percent. Five percent of tests or fewer returning positive results is a good sign the virus’ spread is slowing, researchers say.

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Hardest-hit areas

The top South Carolina counties for new coronavirus cases Friday were Greenville, 129; Spartanburg 75; and Richland 67. 

What about tri-county?

Charleston County had 24 new cases, Berkeley had 17 and Dorchester had 18, according to DHEC.

DHEC reported no new confirmed deaths for the tri-county Friday. 

Deaths

Of the 18 new deaths, 15 were elderly patients aged 65 and older and three were middle-aged patients aged 35 to 64.

They lived in Anderson, Barnwell, Beaufort, Colleton, Florence, Georgetown, Greenville, Lexington, Marion, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg and York counties.

Hospitalizations

Of the 718 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 on Friday, 191 were in intensive case and 96 were on ventilators. 

What do experts say?

Authorities continue to urge South Carolinians to take precautions like wearing masks or other face coverings, social distancing and frequent hand-washing.

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.

There are 111 mobile testing events scheduled through Dec. 23 and 292 permanent testing facilities. Go to scdhec.gov/covid19testing to find a testing site in your area.

Reach Gregory Yee at 843-937-5908. Follow him on Twitter @GregoryYYee.

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