South Carolina grappling with most COVID-19 deaths per week since pandemic began

Updated: Jan. 19, 2021 at 6:32 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina’s death toll is climbing to tragic new heights.

Data from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control shows the state broke its single week record for deaths the week of January 9, tallying 329 confirmed and suspected deaths.

The previous record was 325 deaths, counted the week of July 25.

Between the weeks ending on Dec. 26 through Jan. 16, DHEC has tallied 1,160. That’s the deadliest four week span of the pandemic.

As of Jan. 17, DHEC reports the state’s death toll from the virus stands at 6,248.

Richland County Coroner Naida Rutherford said her team has counted at least 82 COVID-19 related deaths since the turn of the year.

“That’s not even the most accurate number, because we’re still counting those post-mortem COVID swabs that haven’t been returned to us yet,” she said.

She said there are times where her team has had to pull more than 12-hour shifts to address deaths in the community. Echoing health leaders across the state, she urged safety measures be taken.

“I know that it is hard to be in the same space, for such a long period of time, but people are really dying,” she said.

South Carolina Funeral Directors Association President Brad Evans said the virus has changed the way families can honor their loved ones, restricting visitations and church services. He said those changes have brought their own emotional tolls.

“That has probably been one of my most difficult things to kind of get through because, first and foremost, we are a hands-on firm. We try to take care of families from the beginning to the end,” he said.

Governor Henry McMaster is urging hospitals to speed up their COVID-19 vaccination rates in an effort to combat the virus. South Carolina is facing the challenge of limited doses, resulting in some areas not having any appointments available.

You can find information on where to book an appointment on DHEC’s interactive map, found here.

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