“It is heart-wrenching to lose a child under any circumstances, and especially so at a time when we have all lost so much already,” state Department of Health and Environmental Control Health Director Dr. Joan Duwve said. “We will continue to mourn the loss of parents, grandparents, children, friends and neighbors until each and every one of us steps up to do what is right, not just for us but for others.”
Officials have long warned that cases in young South Carolinians are on the rise. Those between 21 and 30 years old make up the largest percentage of confirmed infections in the state by age group, at 22 percent. That number has risen 436.5 percent since June 1.
That’s been a key fuel for the recent spike in cases, which have been climbing since late May. Saturday’s was a new daily record, shattering the July 1 infection rate by 18.9 percent.
Number of new cases reported: 2,239, a new record
Total number of cases in S.C.: 54,538
Number of new deaths reported: 18, plus four probable deaths
Total number of deaths in S.C.: 940, plus 11 probable deaths
Number of hospitalized patients: 1,396
Percent of tests that were positive: 22.2 percent, a new record
Total number of tests in S.C.: 533,738
Which areas are hardest hit?
Charleston County led the state in new cases with 317, while Greenville reported 279 and Horry logged 208. Beaufort counted 105.
What’s happening in the tri-county region?
In addition to Charleston’s new cases, Berkeley counted 76 and Dorchester saw 82.
The most recent confirmed fatalities included residents from Aiken, Charleston, Chester, Dillon, Horry, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland and Sumter counties.
Five of the victims were middle-aged, and another 11 over 65 years old. The Chester County child who died was under 5 years old, according to DHEC.
The weekly death average hasn’t dipped since late June, in keeping with official warnings that a spike in fatalities would follow a few weeks behind the sharp increase in infections that DHEC has recorded since late May.
What do experts say?
Authorities and health experts continue to beg Palmetto State residents to wear masks and avoid crowds whenever possible. As businesses continue to reopen without a statewide mask ordinance, local authorities are stepping in to require safety precautions, and doctors are asking people to abide by public health guidelines even when not legally required.
The continuing spike in cases, giving South Carolina one of the fastest growing infection rates in the world, is a concern for hospitals that are already working with exhausted staff and limited protective equipment.
According to a Post and Courier analysis, the Palmetto State ranks fourth in the world in its increase of cases, accounting for population size. South Carolina trails only Arizona, Florida and the Middle Eastern country of Bahrain.
Reach Sara Coello at 843-937-5705 and follow her on Twitter @smlcoello.