In a new daily record, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported more than 19,000 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 34 new deaths related to the virus on Jan. 14 as the omicron variant continues to surge through the state.
The data was released one day after Charleston County Council members debated a proposal by council Chairman Teddie Pryor to spend up to $900,000 in federal money to buy COVID-19 test kits to be distributed to county residents.
President Joe Biden announced Jan. 13 the federal government would acquire 1 billion at-home test kits and distribute them to American households at no charge.
Pryor said it's important to put test kits in the hands of residents, particularly those who have children at home who are too young to be vaccinated and could be exposed if family members have the virus.
Other council members raised concerns about the logistics of buying and distributing 100,000 test kits; in the end, council's Finance Committee did not support the idea, but it could come up again when they next meet Jan. 18.
Councilman Dickie Schweers said that by the time the county could get the test kits in hands, at least two weeks later, the latest virus surge could have peaked, and distributing them would be challenging.
"This kind of reminds me of the saying 'Stay in your land, bro,' " he said. "This is not our area."
Councilman Kylon Middleton said the church where he preaches sponsored a community vaccination and testing effort and found that making things available doesn't mean people will want or use them.
"We had to pry (people) out of their homes," he said.
The state health agency will be closed in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 17. The next round of COVID-19 data will be issued Jan. 18 and will include four days worth of reporting.
New cases reported: 15,409 confirmed, 4,074 probable.
Total cases in S.C.: 907,252 confirmed, 245,873 probable.
Percent positive: 31.8 percent.
New deaths reported: 28 confirmed, six probable.
Total deaths in S.C.: 12,876 confirmed, 2,038 probable.
Percent of ICU beds filled (with COVID-19 and other patients): 79.15 percent.
S.C. residents vaccinated
In South Carolina, 61.4 percent of people who are eligible for the vaccine have received at least one dose, and 52.5 percent of eligible residents have completed their vaccinations.
This number reflects newly eligible residents in South Carolina, including young children. The latest data from DHEC shows 15.3 percent of children ages 5-11 have at least one vaccine dose.
Greenville (2,373), Richland (1,261) and Spartanburg (1,120) counties saw the highest total numbers of new cases.
What about tri-county?
Charleston County had 1,012 new cases, while Dorchester had 596 and Berkeley had 438.
DHEC releases county-level data regarding COVID-19 deaths and the ages of those who have died from the virus on Tuesdays. According to the latest data released Jan. 11, at least 99 people in South Carolina died from the virus Jan. 2-8, and their ages ranged from young adult (18-34) to elderly (65 and older).
Spartanburg County recorded 14 COVID deaths that week — the highest number of any county in the state.
Of the 2,199 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Jan. 14, 373 were in the ICU and 195 were using ventilators.
What do experts say?
State health officials say a majority of hospitalizations and deaths related to the COVID-19 virus are still largely among the unvaccinated.
They are currently urging all residents who are eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible to curb the spread of the disease.
Go to https://vaxlocator.dhec.sc.gov to find a vaccine clinic near you.