DHEC announces first COVID-19 pediatric death, over 2,000 new cases reported in SC

Updated: Jul. 11, 2020 at 6:22 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced 2,239 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and 18 more confirmed deaths on Friday.

This brings the total number of people with confirmed cases since the outbreak began to 54,538 and confirmed deaths to 940.

Eleven of the confirmed deaths occurred in elderly individuals (65 and older) from Aiken (1), Charleston (5), Dillon (1), Horry (2), Lexington (1), and Richland (1) counties.

Five of the deaths occurred in middle-aged individuals (35 to 64 years old) from Horry (2), Lexington (1), Orangeburg (1), and Sumter (1) counties. One death occurred in a young adult from Horry (1),

The COVID-19-associated death of a child under the age of five from the Midlands region was reported on July 11. To protect the privacy of the child and their family, no other patient information will be disclosed at this time.

The child was a resident of Chester County.

“Today, we mourn the loss of one of our children to this virus. It is heart-wrenching to lose a child under any circumstances, and especially so during a time when we have all lost so much already,” said Dr. Joan Duwve, DHEC Public Health Director. “Our state is in a dire situation and we will continue to mourn the loss of parents, grandparents, children, friends and neighbors until each and every one of us steps up to do what is right, not just for ourselves but for others. No one is immune to this deadly disease, but we each have the power to impact the path this pandemic takes in South Carolina. Choosing to wear a mask and maintain physical distance today will not only help change the course of the pandemic in South Carolina, it will help save the lives of those around us.”

DHEC also announced 7 new probable cases and 4 new probable deaths. This brings the total of probable cases to 146 and 11 probable deaths in the state since the outbreak began.

For more information about why DHEC is now reporting probable cases and deaths, keep reading.

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.

New confirmed cases by county as of Saturday, July 11:

  • Abbeville (11)
  • Aiken (34)
  • Allendale (8)
  • Anderson (42)
  • Bamberg (11)
  • Barnwell (14)
  • Beaufort (105)
  • Berkeley (76)
  • Calhoun (16)
  • Charleston (317)
  • Cherokee (5)
  • Chester (12)
  • Chesterfield (5)
  • Clarendon (16)
  • Colleton (24)
  • Darlington (17)
  • Dillon (6)
  • Dorchester (82)
  • Edgefield (11)
  • Fairfield (25)
  • Florence (42)
  • Georgetown (42)
  • Greenville (279)
  • Greenwood (69)
  • Hampton (9)
  • Horry (208)
  • Jasper (10)
  • Kershaw (12)
  • Lancaster (21)
  • Laurens (39)
  • Lexington (81)
  • Marion (5)
  • Marlboro (1)
  • McCormick (7)
  • Newberry (17)
  • Oconee (17)
  • Orangeburg (64)
  • Pickens (35)
  • Richland (144)
  • Saluda (13)
  • Spartanburg (126)
  • Sumter (58)
  • Union (14)
  • Williamsburg (11)
  • York (78)

New probable cases by county:

  • Negative diagnostic tests (all labs) - 419,325
  • Positive diagnostic tests (all labs) - 68,604
  • Total diagnostic tests - 487,929
  • Negative serology (antibody) tests - 42,257
  • Positive serology (antibody) tests - 2,055
  • Total serology (antibody) tests - 44,312
  • Negative tests of unknown type** - 1,492
  • Positive tests of unknown type** - 5
  • Total tests of unknown type** - 1,497
  • Total number of tests performed in South Carolina by DHEC and private labs - 533,738

*These numbers represent the volume of tests received and not distinct individuals tested. Individuals could have multiple tests.

**Unknown test types refer to tests with an unrecognized type. As (DHEC) continues to investigate unknown test types they will be reassigned as more information becomes available.

As readers may notice, DHEC has changed the way it’s reporting testing numbers.

The agency said it had been including antibody testing in its numbers since March 10, but it didn’t start specifying which tests were which until Thursday, June 11.

However, DHEC officials made clear they have not counted any positive antibody tests as positive COVID-19 cases.

“The inclusion of antibody test numbers in our daily testing numbers has not affected the number of cases in the state, however, it has slightly decreased the percent positive,” DHEC explained.

Antibody tests determine if a person has COVID-19 antibodies in their system, meaning they had a previous infection. It does not test for an active infection.

The recent spike in cases in South Carolina is not just due to more testing, DHEC officials have said repeatedly.

Percent positive refers to the number of people who test positive for COVID-19 in relation to the number of tests being performed. The percent positive has remained high since early June.

DHEC reported the percent positive from 1,725 tests completed statewide July 9 was 17.8% (not including antibody tests).

When daily case numbers are high and the percent positive is high, that indicates more virus spread in the community, DHEC said.

The following chart shows the percent positive over the past 28 days.

Percent Positive 28 Day Molecular
Percent Positive 28 Day Molecular(dhec)

To see the percent positive since the outbreak began in South Carolina, use the chart below and click on “Testing.”

Note that antibody tests were initially counted in the percent positive metric, but as of June 11 they have not been counted, according to DHEC.

DHEC says as of Saturday morning, 1,396 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, 7,906 beds are in use and 2,801 beds are available, meaning about 73.84% of all beds in the state are in use.

As of July 9, DHEC has estimated 89% 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 24,280 people. Of those people, 733 have unfortunately died.

Based on that information, DHEC estimates that about 20,957 of those people have recovered so far. The rest of those people are still fighting the virus, DHEC says.

Note that this data is only available for fewer than half of the total COVID-19 cases reported in South Carolina.

When looking at the confirmed numbers of cases and deaths, one could figure the death toll from the virus is about 1.76% in South Carolina.

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

If that is the case, as DHEC suggests, there may have been more than 373,379 coronavirus cases in the state so far. That would mean the death toll could be more like 0.25%.

On June 18, DHEC announced it would begin reporting probable cases and deaths. A probable case, according to DHEC officials, is an individual who has not had a confirmatory viral test performed but meets the following qualifications:

  • Has epidemiologic evidence and clinical evidence of infection, or
  • A positive antibody blood test and either epidemiologic evidence or clinical evidence.

A probable death, according to DHEC, is a person whose death certificate lists COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 as a cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death but did not undergo confirmatory viral testing.

Find more information on probable cases and deaths here.

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.

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.

Some people who have the virus don’t show any symptoms, but they can still spread it to others. The CDC estimates that up to 35% of all cases are asymptomatic.

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.

The CDC says about 3% of people who show symptoms of the virus need to be hospitalized, but that percentage is doubled for seniors.

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 18 and 64.

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.

Children are the least likely to develop COVID-19. However, a serious but rare inflammatory condition in children has been linked with the coronavirus. Click or tap here to read more about that.

The mortality rate for people with the virus was first widely reported around 2 to 3%, but health experts noted at the time that the actual percentage was not that high, as not all cases are diagnosed or reported.

As of mid-May, the CDC estimates about 0.4% of people who get COVID-19 will die from it.

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 musc.care 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 prismahealth.org/virtual-visit 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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