As cases of COVID-19 rise in the state and across the nation, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is encouraging residents to monitor the most effective indicators of COVID-19 severity –weekly hospitalizations and deaths data – and continue to take the proper measures to prevent getting a severe case of the virus.
According to DHEC’s county-level dashboard, updated weekly on Tuesdays, cases have been on the rise the last several weeks. This includes 951 cases the week of March 27-April 2, and a consistent rise each of the following weeks, with 5,566 cases the week of May 8-14.
In that same timeframe, COVID-related deaths dropped each week, from 27 the week of March 27-April 2 to 10 deaths during the most recently reported week.
“While we continue to track reportable cases, treating COVID-19 as endemic means paying closer attention to severe cases of the virus, meaning those that unfortunately result in hospitalization and death,” said Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC Director. “We are encouraged by seeing our hospitals operating at less than maximum capacity and seeing deaths on a steady decline over the last several weeks.”
As DHEC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have stated recently, data that relies on total COVID-19 cases is not as reliable as it was before the widespread use of at-home rapid antigen testing, which are not reportable to DHEC. However, providing quick and easy access to testing helps those who are sick take immediate steps to prevent getting others sick. Data on hospitalizations and deaths provides a more complete picture of how COVID-19 is impacting communities in a severe way.
As the summer months approach and families begin traveling and spending more time around people outside of their households, DHEC is encouraging everyone to continue taking steps to prevent surges. These preventative measures include getting tested when recommended, masking during times of high transmission or by choice, and getting all recommended COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters if eligible.
DHEC supplies free, rapid antigen home tests at its public health departments across the state and encourages residents to check availability at a nearby location. We also encourage residents to take advantage of the free home tests being offered through the federal government at covidtests.gov. Residents can now order a third round of tests that will be mailed directly to their home.
“While DHEC will continue playing a very important role in preventing COVID-19 cases, individuals’ personal decisions to act now will determine how successful we are at limiting severe cases this summer and beyond,” Simmer said. “So we encourage everyone to use good judgment and continue making decisions that will keep themselves and their loved ones safe.”
For more information on DHEC’s COVID-19 recommendations, visit their endemic page.