The number new COVID-19 cases in South Carolina Sunday rose to the highest single-day total in a week, while the amount of people hospitalized with the coronavirus continued to decline, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Health officials confirmed 1,197 new positive tests and 35 more deaths in the Palmetto State.
Since testing began last March, 444,207 cases of the coronavirus and 7,578 deaths have been reported in South Carolina.
Sunday’s data is based on 26,779 tests, and the percentage of tests coming back positive was 7%, according to DHEC. Sunday’s ratio is significantly lower then the Jan. 7 percent positive of 34.2%, which is the record for highest in a single day, but that is partially because of a change DHEC made in the way the percent positive is calculated.
DHEC calculates the positivity rate by taking the total number of positive viral tests and dividing it by the total number of tests taken. The number of cases is lower than the number of positive tests because some people take multiple tests.
The single-day record of 226 deaths was reported on Jan. 28.
The most new cases in a single day were the 6,824 positive tests from Jan. 8. No other single-day report has surpassed 5,000 new positive tests.
Since Dec. 27, there have been 10 days with more than 4,000 new cases of coronavirus confirmed in a single day, the data show. Prior to the surge in December and January, the previous single-day record was 2,343 cases confirmed on July 18.
Sunday marked the 98th day out of the past 104 that more than 1,000 positive tests were confirmed in South Carolina, dating back to Nov. 16 when DHEC reported 981 new cases. From Monday through Thursday last week no single day case count exceeded 1,000 positive tests.
Health officials reported more than 3,000 daily cases 27 times, and 61 of the past 88 days have seen more than 2,000 positive tests confirmed, the data show.
Health officials said Sunday that South Carolina had received 1,183,410 total doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and that 905,929 of those doses had been administered.
The majority of the doses received, or 653,810, are Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines that have gone to front-line health care workers and community first responders. Of those vaccinations administered, 418,135 have been first doses, while 192,730 more are second doses, according to DHEC.
The other 364,000 are Moderna vaccines that, until recently, had been reserved for long-term care facility residents and staff. To date, 162,067 first doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, and another 41,009 second doses have been given, data show.
Another 518,936 people have made appointments for vaccinations.
Anyone eligible to receive a vaccine who would like to get one can use DHEC’s locator tool to find a provider with availability near you at www.scdhec.gov/vaxlocator. For those without internet access, DHEC recently launched a phone line — (866) 365-8110 — where operators are available every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to help people searching for information about vaccine providers.
State health officials advise South Carolinians to continue taking measures to mitigate spread of COVID-19 as the vaccination rollout progresses in the months ahead.
DHEC urges anyone who is symptomatic or who has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 to get tested and recommends routine monthly testing for anyone who is out and about, even if they are asymptomatic.
To find a testing location near you, visit DHEC’s website at scdhec.gov/covid19/covid-19-testing-locations.
Overall, 5,952,112 tests have been conducted in South Carolina.
Which counties were affected?
Even as COVID-19 cases decline in all regions of the state, the Upstate continues to outpace all other South Carolina regions in its daily number of coronavirus cases.
Greenville County, the state’s most populous county, reported 173 new cases Sunday, and nearby Spartanburg County had 59 more, with an additional 47 in neighboring Anderson County, according to DHEC.
COVID-19 cases in the Midlands are also elevated, and Richland County reported 103 new cases, second most in South Carolina, and Lexington County reported 68 more positive tests.
That brings the number of confirmed cases in Richland County to 35,760, and in Lexington County to 24,107.
COVID-19 has taken the greatest toll on South Carolina’s elderly residents.
The average age of all South Carolinians who have died from coronavirus complications is 76, and the vast majority of those who died — 88% — were over 60, the data shows.
Of the deaths reported Sunday, 28 were elderly (65 and older) and seven were middle-aged (35-64) people, health officials said.
Overall, 452 coronavirus-related deaths have been reported in Richland County, while the death toll increased to 394 in Lexington County, according to DHEC.
How are hospitals being impacted?
The number of people hospitalized statewide for COVID-19 Sunday was 769, the 13th day in a row the total decreased.
It was the 31st consecutive day of fewer than 2,000 people with COVID-19 being cared for in a South Carolina hospital, following 30 days in a row in which 2,000-plus coronavirus patients were hospitalized, according to health officials.
Sunday’s hospitalizations marked the lowest point in more than two months, significantly lower than their peak of 2,466.
Coronavirus patients made up 8.88% of all reported inpatients in South Carolina on Sunday, data show.
About 26% of COVID-19 patients, or 203 people, are in intensive care units, and 12.6%, or 97 patients, are on ventilators.
Of the 13,458 hospital beds available in South Carolina, 8,657 inpatient beds are currently occupied, health officials said. There are currently 1,251 of 1,744 ICU beds occupied, or 71.7%, according to DHEC.
In Richland County, 736 hospital beds are occupied (67%), while 412 of 541 hospital beds in Lexington County (76%) are occupied, according to DHEC.
Are all cases accounted for?
Across the country, health experts said official case counts have likely under-counted the number of coronavirus cases to large degrees. At one point, South Carolina officials estimated that 86% of those infected never got tested or diagnosed, but they no longer provide those estimates.
DHEC also has been recording probable cases and probable deaths. A probable case is someone who has not received a lab test result but has virus symptoms or a positive antibody test. A probable death is someone who has not gotten a lab test but whose death certificate lists COVID-19 as a cause of death or a contributing factor.
On Sunday, DHEC reported 258 new probable COVID-19 cases in the state and 14 new probable deaths. That puts the total number of probable cases at 72,616 and total probable deaths at 968.