NEWBERRY, S.C. (WIS) - On any other year, Newberry would have celebrated its Christmas Tree lighting with a large gathering in the center of downtown Friday night.
This year is different.
The city transitioned the event online as a COVID-19 safety precaution.
As of Nov. 19, Newberry County is leading the state in COVID-19 cases per capita. For every 100,000 people, the Department of Health and Environmental Control is reporting there are 5,268 cases.
The following chart is best viewed in full-screen mode. To do that, use the scroll bars to scroll all the way down and to the right, then click the full-screen icon.
The statistic reflects the spread of COVID-19 in the population, but not overall numbers.
On the week of Nov. 14, Newberry County broke its record for cases in one week (132 in November vs. 124 in July).
As of Nov. 19, the county has seen 62 deaths and 2,025 cases since the pandemic began.
Newberry City Mayor Foster Senn said he could not identify any one reason for the statistics, but did acknowledge there is a spike.
“Newberry people have been resilient though,” he said. “We’ve been innovative whether it’s been businesses or schools, and I’m just really proud of our community on how they’ve stepped up.”
He added: “These are tough times across the country and across our state, but I think the Newberry people have done really well. A vaccine is on the horizon, so if we can just a get little further into 2021, then things are going to be looking up for all of us.”
The testing lines at the county’s DHEC office were steady on Friday, and Senn said some of the statistical rise could be attributed to more testing.
He said the city council is not planning to implement any COVID-19 restrictions beyond the existing mask ordinance.
“I think people are being smart, it’s just really tough,” he said. “I personally took all the precautions, and I still got it. Fortunately, thankfully I just had minor symptoms -- but even so it’s not any fun.”
He added: “Nobody wants it. It’s just a very difficult thing. I don’t think we’ve had any spreader events or anything like that, it’s just a tough situation.”
Newberry County Memorial Hospital Director of Marketing Brenda Williams told WIS the rate of COVID-19 patients has remained steady.
Newberry County Emergency Services Coordinator Tommy Long said there have been challenges in containing the virus.
“People doing gatherings when they’ve been asked not to do gatherings... Keeping that under control is sometimes difficult,” he said.
All the county leaders urged residents to be safe over the Thanksgiving holiday.