Death toll in SC related to COVID-19 surpasses 400, percent positive slightly increases

Death toll in SC related to COVID-19 surpasses 400, percent positive slightly increases

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - On Wednesday, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported 125 new cases of the novel coronavirus and eight additional deaths.

Daily Coronavirus Cases - 05/20/2020
Daily Coronavirus Cases - 05/20/2020 (Source: WIS)

This brings the total number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in South Carolina to 9,175 and those who have died to 407.

Total Coronavirus Cases - 05/20/2020
Total Coronavirus Cases - 05/20/2020 (Source: WIS)

Included in this article is context on testing, recoveries, hospitalization, death rates and more. That information is provided in detail below the info on new cases announced Wednesday.

Each of the new deaths announced Wednesday were elderly people (65 and older) who lived in the following counties: Clarendon (1), Colleton (4), Fairfield (1), Lexington (1), and Richland (1).

New confirmed cases by county as of Wednesday, May 20:

  • Aiken (4)
  • Anderson (3)
  • Beaufort (5)
  • Berkeley (2)
  • Charleston (1)
  • Chester (1)
  • Chesterfield (4)
  • Colleton (2)
  • Darlington (5)
  • Dillon (3)
  • Dorchester (4)
  • Edgefield (1)
  • Fairfield (5)
  • Florence (3)
  • Georgetown (1)
  • Greenville (14)
  • Horry (8)
  • Jasper (1)
  • Kershaw (3)
  • Lee (1)
  • Lexington (6)
  • Marion (2)
  • Marlboro (3)
  • Orangeburg (2)
  • Pickens (3)
  • Richland (17)
  • Saluda (4)
  • Spartanburg (3)
  • Sumter (2)
  • Williamsburg (2)
  • York (10)

Coronavirus Cases in the Midlands - 05/20/2020
Coronavirus Cases in the Midlands - 05/20/2020 (Source: WIS)

COVID-19 Testing in South Carolina

  • Negative tests from DHEC Public Health Laboratory - 25,553
  • Negative tests from private laboratories - 103,510
  • Total negative tests - 129,063
  • Positive tests from DHEC Public Health Laboratory - 3,222
  • Positive tests from private laboratories - 5,953
  • Total positive tests - 9,175
  • Total number of tests performed in South Carolina by DHEC and private labs - 138,238

To find a COVID-19 testing site near you, click or tap here.

On Wednesday, nearly 3,100 new test results were shared by DHEC.

With the increase in testing statewide, the percentage of positive cases has fallen drastically. However, there has been a slight increase in the percent of positive cases over the last three days.

Percent positive cases as of May 20
Percent positive cases as of May 20 (Source: SCDHEC)

Officials say looking at the percent positive number is a good indicator of how the state is fighting the virus. The following explanation comes straight from DHEC’s website:

"As South Carolina increases testing, there will likely be more laboratory-confirmed cases. The percent positive graphs show trends in the percent of cases of COVID-19 relative to the number of tests performed during the last 28 and 14 days, respectively. The calculation is a result of the number of positive tests reported in a day (for May 19, 125) divided by the total number of tests performed on that same day by both DHEC’s laboratory and private laboratories (for May 19, 2,270), then multiplied by 100 to get the percent positive (5.5% for May 19).

When the percent positive is high, it may indicate that there isn’t enough testing being performed to capture how much disease is in the community and testing may be focused on people who are more severely ill.

When the percent positive is low, it may indicate that more widespread testing is being performed and the percent positive may more accurately reflect how much disease is present in the community."


DHEC says as of Wednesday morning, 414 people are hospitalized due to COVID-19 or are under investigation for the possibility of having the virus.

Of all inpatient hospital beds in the state, 7,209 beds are in use and 3,030 beds are available.


As of May 19, DHEC has estimated 85% of people who didn’t die from the virus, and that they have “symptom onset data” for, have recovered. They only have that data for 6,769 people. Of those people, 356 have unfortunately died.

Based on that information, DHEC estimates 5,451 have recovered so far. The rest of the people are still fighting the virus, DHEC says.

In the accelerateSC task force meeting Tuesday, DHEC officials explained they have mandatory reporting for symptoms, but nothing for “people feeling better.” They are working to get a more accurate picture of the number of people who have recovered.


When looking at the confirmed numbers of cases and deaths, one could figure the death toll from the virus is higher than 4%.

However, DHEC estimates that for every confirmed case of the virus, there are up to 9 other people in the community who have also been infected.

If that is the case, as DHEC suggests, there may have been a total of 65,536 coronavirus cases in the state so far. That would mean the death toll could be more like 0.6%.


South Carolinians are encouraged to monitor for symptoms, practice social distancing, avoid touching frequently touched items (such as doorknobs and handrails), and regularly wash their hands, especially after being in a public place.

To help protect against COVID-19, DHEC encourages everyone to wear a mask covering whenever in public. When wearing a mask, South Carolinians should:

  • Make sure you can breathe through it
  • Wear it whenever going out in public
  • Make sure it covers your nose and mouth
  • Wash your hands before taking it on or off
  • Wash after using

You should not:

  • Use on children under age 2
  • Touch the front of the mask
  • Use surgical masks needed by healthcare workers

DHEC says homemade masks can reduce the chance of people spreading the virus and keep them from touching their face. They are recommended to be worn in places where social distancing is difficult -- grocery stores, pharmacies, etc...

People who have the virus but aren’t showing symptoms can reduce their chance of spreading the virus by wearing a mask, so everyone is recommended to wear one.

For a video tutorial on how to make your own mask, click or tap here.

Individuals with signs of illness are asked to stay at home and not attend public gatherings.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is spread mainly from person-to-person by those in close contact, or through coughing and sneezing by someone who’s infected.

Symptoms of the coronavirus can show up between two and 14 days of exposure, health officials say. Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

For most people, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But some severe cases can lead to death.

Most people can recover from the virus at home using over-the-counter medications to treat their symptoms.

Protecting yourself from coronavirus

Those who are at the highest risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19 are the elderly and those who are already being treated for chronic medical diseases.

Young people who contract the virus are not likely to have a serious case, research shows. However, the CDC said about 40% of people who needed to be hospitalized due to the coronavirus are between the ages of 20 and 54.

Those who are hospitalized with serious cases of COVID-19 have trouble breathing, and many need support from ventilators, which breathe for them. The U.S. is working to produce more of the machines to prepare, but experts fear a shortage of life-saving devices.

The mortality rate for people with the virus has been widely reported around 2 to 3%, but health experts note the actual percentage is not that high, as not all cases are diagnosed or reported.

The rate is higher than the flu, which kills on average about 0.1% of people who get it, based on a 10-year average of data from the CDC.


Anyone with concerns about their health, or who believes they are showing symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, should call their health care provider. Avoid going to the doctor or an emergency room unless the situation is life-threatening.

People without a doctor can take advantage of free online screening from Prisma Health and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

MUSC has an online platform to aid with coronavirus diagnosis and care. Go to and access the COVID-19 platform. The service is free with code: COVID19.

Prisma Health also has a free virtual visit, which allows patients to video conference with a doctor instead of coming into a facility. The goal is to keep patients who don’t need to be treated at a hospital at home. Go to and use promo code COVID19 for a free virtual visit.

For more information on COVID-19, click or tap here to visit the CDC’s website.

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