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Publix pharmacies start COVID-19 vaccine appointments as SC adds nearly 3,000 cases

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South Carolina confirmed nearly 3,000 more COVID-19 cases Monday after surpassing 350,000 confirmed coronavirus cases late last week.

The state has recorded over 50,000 new cases in less than two weeks. Monday's report reflects data as of Saturday; reports have been on a two-day delay since the holidays.

Record numbers of new cases were recorded in the first two weeks of January. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control resolved a systems issue Saturday that had kept data incomplete over the past week, and officials belatedly reported that on Jan. 8 the state set a daily record of 6,924 new COVID-19 cases, a substantial increase from previous records.

A little more than half of South Carolina's vaccine stock has been used so far, according to DHEC. Out of 313,000 total doses received by the state, 158,232 had been administered as of Saturday morning. 

Publix is working with DHEC to distribute COVID-19 vaccines at 42 of its pharmacies throughout the state. Vaccinations are provided by appointment only. Eligible individuals can schedule appointments starting Tuesday using the online reservation system at publix.com/covidvaccine, with administrations starting Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, it was announced that the city of Charleston will participate in a nationwide memorial to honor the nearly 400,000 American lives lost to the ongoing pandemic. At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Charleston City Hall will be illuminated and churches throughout the city will ring their bells.

Statewide numbers

New cases reported: 2,946, which is 1,765 percent higher than the 158 tallied on March 31, the day Gov. Henry McMaster ordered nonessential businesses to close.

Total cases in S.C.: 354,895, plus 36,569 probable cases

New deaths reported: 8

Total deaths in S.C.: 5,662 confirmed, 586 probable

Total tests in S.C.: 4,370,454

Hospitalized patients: 2,342

Percent of positive tests, seven-day average: 23 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

According to data from DHEC, the top counties for new coronavirus cases reported Monday were Greenville, 387; Richland, 211; and York, 199.

What about tri-county?

On Monday, Charleston County reported 184 new cases while Berkeley had 75 and Dorchester logged 70.

Deaths 

Of the eight coronavirus deaths that DHEC confirmed Monday, two were middle-aged patients aged 35 to 64, and the rest were at least 65 years old.

They lived in Calhoun, Dorchester, Horry, Orangeburg, Richland and Williamsburg counties.

Hospitalizations

Of the 2,342 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday, 478 were in intensive care and 317 were on ventilators. 

Around 80 percent of the state's reported intensive care beds are occupied.

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.

Reach Thomas Novelly at 843-937-5713. Follow him @TomNovelly on Twitter. 

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