DHEC identifies two reasons behind the drop in cases: masks and less testing

Updated: Sep. 17, 2020 at 6:50 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Early on the pandemic, coronavirus tests were hard to find.

Throughout the summer when cases spiked, several large events ran out of tests or had to bring in more to meet demand. Now, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said even with more tests than ever before, fewer people are turning out.

DHEC said there are two reasons for a dip in cases after a peak this summer.

The agency said masks are working, and most people are wearing them when they should be. Recent data from the state agency shows drops in cases are more distinct in municipalities where mask mandates are in effect.

Jim Bruckner, the Public Health Director for the Pee Dee Region, said there’s another reason contributing to the decline. He said fewer people are getting tested.

Less than 500 cases were reported statewide on Wednesday, with 19 in Horry County. Thursday saw an uptick in both statewide and local cases.

Health officials said they still need to continue to test a significant portion of the population.

“The 10 percent goal gives us an adequate picture per month to know and understand where the disease is spreading within the communities, across the state and gives us a good idea of what we consider hot spots are so we can actually target more testing into those areas. Testing is the only way we’re gonna mitigate this," Bruckner said.

He added most tests being performed at DHEC events are being returned in 24-48 hours, down from nearly a week earlier this year.

Bruckner said, anyone out in the community regularly, especially those who aren’t social distancing, should get tested, even if they don’t have symptoms.

“They may have been exposed to close contacts that we’re positive for COVID 19 who don’t even know that.”

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