COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - According to state health officials, there could be up to 8,000 cumulative cases of the coronavirus in South Carolina by the beginning of May.
Wednesday afternoon, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) released projections for COVID-19 cases in the state. (link to attached PDF).
DHEC officials said as soon as next week, there could be more than 2,600 cases cumulative of the coronavirus in South Carolina. By May 2nd, there could be more than 8,000 cumulative cases.
According to officials, this doesn't necessarily mean 8,000 people will be sick at the same time -- these are just a total number of reported cases. The majority of people who become ill will recover, they said.
Officials said some of the people who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month have recovered.
Director Rick Toomey said the state agency is focusing on preventative measures like social distancing to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, "I think we are progressively ramping up our efforts to slow the spread and smooth out the growth curve of the cases."
The number of reported will increase as testing becomes more available, according to officials.
DHEC said the number of new cases might somewhat flatten in the coming weeks as warmer weather arrives, just like what happened during the SARS outbreak in 2003 and with the flu every year.
According to State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell, the number of new cases can also decrease as a result of social distancing.
She recommended every South Carolinian practice this, "Consider there is a possibility of recognized cases in your community anywhere. Regardless of the number of cases in your community take the recommendations seriously now."
Based on these projections and other projections they've received some lawmakers believe there should be a statewide 'stay-at-home' order.
Representative Neal Collins (R-Pickens) along with Rep. Gary Clary (R-Pickens) wrote a letter to the governor urging this.
Rep. Collins said, "Social distancing and the 'stay-at-home' order will decrease the number of those infected and those having to go the hospital."
During a conference call with WIS and other reporters, DHEC said 80% of people who become ill with COVID-19 won't need to be hospitalized. Director Toomey said hospitals are reporting about 180 ventilators are currently in use. There are a total of 1260 ventilators in South Carolina he said.
Toomey said they have requested more ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile.