South Carolina continued to inch towards 150,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, as hospitalizations for the virus increased slightly.
On Tuesday, 655 people were hospitalized across the state with COVID-19. It's a 10.5 percent increase from the 593 hospitalizations reported Monday.
More patients are also in intensive care and on ventilators compared with Monday's numbers, according to data from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
The state's seven-day average for the percent of positive tests is over 14 percent, according to DHEC data. That's well above the 5 percent or lower benchmark that researchers say would indicate the virus' spread is slowing.
New cases reported: 693, which is 339 percent more than the 158 tallied on March 31, the day Gov. Henry McMaster ordered nonessential businesses to close.
Total cases in S.C.: 147,800, plus 5,170 probable cases.
New deaths reported: 17
Total deaths in S.C.: 3,275, plus 196 probable deaths.
Hospitalized patients: 655
Total tests in S.C.: 1,529,816
Percent of positive tests, seven-day average: 14.7 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 reported on Tuesday were Richland, 83; Horry, 62; and Anderson and Greenville counties, with 48 new cases each.
What about the tri-county?
Charleston County had 25 new cases, Berkeley had four and Dorchester had 12.
One of Tuesday's reported deaths was an elderly Charleston resident.
Of the 17 new deaths, 15 were elderly patients aged 65 and older, and two were middle-aged patients aged 35 to 64.
They lived in Anderson, Beaufort, Charleston, Cherokee, Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Lexington, Marion, Newberry, Pickens, Richland and Sumter counties.
Of 655 coronavirus patients who were hospitalized as of Tuesday, DHEC said, 167 were in intensive care with 87 on ventilators.
What do experts say?
Public health 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 123 mobile testing events scheduled through Nov. 23 and 315 permanent testing facilities. Go to scdhec.gov/covid19testing to find a testing site in your area.