As South Carolina prepares for a holiday that usually includes hordes of relatives traveling to crowd around dinner tables, the state's public health agency has urged people to keep their distance this Thanksgiving.
The Palmetto State is nearing 200,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, and experts worry that Thanksgiving will kindle the spread.
"Unfortunately, we're seeing many infections resulting from household spread," state epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said. "Everyone should remember that the recommended protective measures are also important for friends and extended family visiting your home."
While DHEC urges people to avoid traveling outside their households, doctors promoted small outdoor gatherings with plenty of space between guests as the safest way to celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
New cases reported: 1,243, which is 687 percent higher than the 158 tallied on March 31, the day Gov. Henry McMaster ordered nonessential businesses to close.
Total cases in S.C.: 197,652, plus 13,253 probable cases
New deaths reported: 4
Total deaths in S.C.: 4,015 confirmed, 302 probable
Total tests in S.C.: 2,599,832
Hospitalized patients: 940
Percent of positive tests, seven-day average: 12.8 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 Wednesday were Greenville, 150; Horry, 111; and Richland, 101.
What about tri-county?
Charleston County reported 96 new cases, Berkeley logged 34 and Dorchester reported 37.
Of the four new deaths reported, two were middle-aged patients aged 35 to 64, and two were elderly patients 65 or older.
They lived in Georgetown, Greenville, Hampton and Marion counties.
Of the 940 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday, 227 were in intensive care and 108 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.