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SC's weekly average of COVID-19 cases fell to level not seen since November

Virus Outbreak Vaccine (copy)

This July 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows a vial of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. On Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, Johnson & Johnson asked U.S. regulators to clear the world’s first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, an easier-to-use option that could boost scarce supplies. File/Johnson & Johnson via AP

With close to 800 new, confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported Feb. 22, the disease's transmission in South Carolina is still considered high.

In fact, the number of new cases the state reported in the last week puts it in The COVID Tracking Project's No. 1 slot in the country, accounting for the size of each state's population.

Even so, the average of a week's worth of cases hasn't been as low as it is now since Nov. 11, according to data from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and compiled by The Post and Courier.

Generally speaking, South Carolina saw its first big surge of coronavirus cases over the summer, peaking in mid-July. A second wave of the virus reached a high point in early January.

Statewide numbers

New cases reported: 779 confirmed, 124 probable.

Total cases in S.C.: 437,018 confirmed, 68,571 probable.

Percent positive: 4.6 percent.

New deaths reported: 8 confirmed, 2 probable.

Total deaths in S.C.: 7,417 confirmed, 915 probable.

Percent of ICU beds filled: 78 percent.

How does S.C. rank in vaccines administered per 100,000 people? 

42nd as of Feb. 21, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Hardest-hit areas

In the total number of newly confirmed cases, Greenville (100), Spartanburg (80) and Anderson (75) counties saw the highest totals.

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What about the tri-county?

Charleston County had 47 new cases on Feb. 22, while Berkeley and Dorchester each counted 26.

Deaths

Two of the newly confirmed deaths from COVID-19 were in people ages 35 to 64, and the remaining six were patients 65 and older. 

Hospitalizations

Of the 993 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Feb. 22, 231 were in the ICU and 135 were using ventilators.

What do experts say?

The CDC studied a school district in Georgia over a month of in-person instruction and found teachers seemed to be more likely spreaders of the virus than students.

The finding is relevant to plans to fully reopen schools, given educators are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine while most students are not. 

Researchers with the nation's public health authority wrote it is possible to keep COVID-19 out of schools, even when the disease is spreading in the community. 

The CDC and local health officials studied eight elementary schools in the same Georgia school district. In each case of COVID-19 spread, physical distancing and mask-wearing weren't always done properly. 

Lunchtime, when kids aren't required to wear masks, was thought to be a likely culprit in the spread of the virus. 

But the key finding in the research was "that educators play an important role in in-school transmission." 

Bryan Brussee contributed reporting. 

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