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SC passes 1,700 total coronavirus deaths; labs working extended hours to process tests

DHEC announced 1,110 new coronavirus cases and 27 deaths Sunday

  • Updated

South Carolina climbed past 1,700 total COVID-19 deaths on Sunday, adding 27 along with 1,110 new coronavirus cases, public health officials announced.

Since March, the Palmetto State has counted 91,257 known cases and 531 probable ones, while 1,709 people have died from the respiratory illness.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control’s daily guidance came a few hours after Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus task force coordinator, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the condition is more rampant now than it was when the first cases arrived.

“What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread,” Birx said. “It’s into the rural as equal urban areas.”

DHEC said 7,306 people were tested for the coronavirus on Saturday, with a 15.2 percent positive return rate. The agency’s public health laboratory is running on extended hours and testing specimens seven days a week, officials said.

Since July 22, hospitals have been required to use a new federal TeleTracking system rather than a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting portal for bed usage.

Unlike the CDC version, figures reported to TeleTracking don’t break down bed types but DHEC said Sunday it’s working with the state’s Hospital Association to create a metric for statewide use of beds related to coronavirus cases.

“It’s not what you see on the reports,” Melanie Matney, chief operating officer of the S.C. Hospital Association, told The Post and Courier this week. “That’s what we’ve got to really tease down, not only the bed types but what truly is available for the patient.”

As of Sunday, nearly 78 percent of the state’s ICU beds are in use — 320 out of the 1,444 total are available. Officials also said 1,427 people across the state are hospitalized due to COVID-19, and 230 are on ventilators.

Projections posted by the State Department of Health and Environmental Control indicate the state will surpass 100,000 cases in the first week of August.

DHEC has 138 mobile testing clinics planned through Sept. 29, along with 215 permanent sites around the state.

Statewide numbers

Number of new cases reported: 1,110

Total number of cases in S.C.: 91,257

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Number of new deaths reported: 27

Total number of deaths in S.C.: 1,709, plus 68 probable deaths

Number of hospitalized patients: 1,427

Percent of tests that were positive: 15.2 percent

Total number of tests in S.C.: 777,287

Which areas are hardest hit?

Charleston County led the state with 122 new cases announced Saturday, while Richland logged 91 and Greenville added 74.

What’s happening in the tri-county region?

In addition to the 122 new Charleston County cases, 35 Berkeley residents tested positive, along with 36 people from Dorchester.

Deaths

Of the 27 deaths confirmed Saturday, three were in patients ages 35 to 64, and 24 victims were over 65. They’d lived in, Anderson, Beaufort, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Dorchester, Florence, Greenville, Horry, Lexington, Richland, Saluda and Spartanburg counties.

What do experts say?

As case numbers and deaths continue to rise around the state, officials continue to issue dire warnings on what will happen if the public does not adopt widespread precautions like mask-wearing and social distancing.

Officials continue to urge basic precautions to slow the spread of the coronavirus: social distancing, wearing a mask in public, avoiding group gatherings, regularly washing hands and staying home when sick.

Follow Adam Benson on Twitter @AdamNewshound12.

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