We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccines in South Carolina. Check back for updates.
Cases surpass 474,000
At least 474,358 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in South Carolina and 8,195 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials.
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control on Friday reported 847 new COVID-19 cases, up from 589 the day before.
Two coronavirus-related deaths were also reported.
At least 556 people were reported hospitalized with COVID-19 on Friday, with 144 in intensive care units.
As of Friday, 4.4% of COVID-19 tests were reported positive. Health officials say 5% or lower indicates a low level of community spread.
More than 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered in South Carolina, and more than 1 million people in the state had “completed vaccination” as of Wednesday.
SC awarded $3.7 million to battle COVID-19 variants
South Carolina is set to receive $3.7 million in federal funds as part of an initiative to help slow the spread of COVID-19 variants, according to The State.
The funding is slated to arrive in May, the White House announced Friday. The initiative is part of a $1.7 billion investment aimed at monitoring variants of the virus popping up across the U.S.
So far, two COVID-19 variants have been reported in South Carolina: the U.K. variant and the South Africa variant — both of which are known to spread more quickly and easily, according to the CDC.
“With the information from sequencing, the CDC and state and local public health leaders can implement known prevention measures to stop the spread,” according to a statement from the White House.
DHEC picks health division chief
The state Department of Health and Environmental Control has picked a director for the agency’s health division.
Brannon Traxler, a doctor who has filled the position on an interim basis since last fall, beat out two other candidates for the permanent role.
As the state’s top public health official, Traxler will report directly to DHEC Director Edward Simmer. Simmer oversees both the health and environmental divisions.
“I am pleased to offer the position of public health director to Dr. Brannon Traxler,” Simmer said in a news release. “She has done a terrific job in the interim role and I am confident that she will continue to do great things for her fellow South Carolinians.”
Port Royal could soon ditch mask rules
Port Royal in Beaufort County will soon begin “strongly encouraging” but not requiring residents to wear a mask or face covering in public spaces, The Island Packet reported.
The town council voted Wednesday to extend the COVID-19 mask rules through April 30, coinciding with a similar plan for the City of Beaufort’s mask mandate. But starting in May, the mandate will no longer be in place.
Like other cities across South Carolina and the country, Port Royal issued a mask requirement last July to help slow the spread of coronavirus.