CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - State health officials on Thursday announced two additional deaths related to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in South Carolina. This brings the state’s total number of deaths to nine.
One patient was an elderly person from Kershaw County who had underlying health conditions. The second patient was an elderly person from Sumter County who also had underlying health conditions.
DHEC is also investigating 32 additional cases of COVID-19.
New cases include 3 cases in Beaufort County, 3 in Berkeley County, 8 in Charleston County, 1 in Georgetown County and 2 in Orangeburg County. This brings the total number statewide to 456 cases in 39 counties.
The most coronavirus cases in the state are located in Kershaw County with 64, followed by Charleston County with 60.
According to the latest data, there have been 2,763 tests with 456 people testing positive and 2,307 testing negative.
During a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Dr. Linda Bell with DHEC reported that there was currently a shortage nationwide of chemicals, which she also referred to as reagents, which are needed for laboratories to conduct coronavirus testing.
Bell said this may lead to delays in the results of tests being made available to the public.
“This means that on a given day, the number of new cases reported could be much higher than it would typically have been if it includes results from tests that were delayed from a previous day because of potential shortages,” Bell said.
Bell stressed that DHEC does not recommend everybody who is ill to get a test to see if they have COVID-19. Heath officials have been recommending people who get ill to stay home, get better and seek medical attention only if symptoms worsen.
Health officials also spoke about projections which showed about 8000 cases of coronavirus cases in the state by May.
The projections were revealed for the first time on Wednesday.
Bell said DHEC was able to provide these projections since there has been an increase in cases being reported.
“Based on the information that we have today, we projected an estimate of 2657 cumulative cases by April 2, and about 8000 cases by May 2,” she said.
Those figures are cumulative cases and include all previous cases.
Bell stressed that the data only provides predictions and may change “significantly” due to various factors.
She said regardless of the projections, people should continue to follow recommendations to protect themselves and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Gov. Henry McMaster said that he was not planning on issuing a statewide lockdown.
This follows after the City of Charleston put into affect a “stay at home” order and Columbia City Council passed a similar order on Thursday. Charleston’s ordinance involves essential businesses remaining open and only necessary travel being permitted.
The governor said he was not too familiar with the ordinances, but based on what he has seen, the orders are similar to those he gave previously.
“Most of the things that are being ordered or being done are things that I and [state health officials] have already called for for two weeks now, mostly on a voluntarily basis,” McMaster said.”So the good news is South Carolinians are following these instructions, requests and suggestions very well.”
McMaster added that citizens have been making good progress on social distancing, something state health officials say is key in preventing the transmission of diseases.
“And the good news is, people are doing it, they are staying home,” McMaster said.”They’re keeping that social distance, and we’re making great progress. So I say again, I have great faith in the people of our state.”
As they have been doing for every press conference, health officials stressed the need for South Carolinians to practice good hygiene.
Those actions include social distancing, staying home and away from people when sick, and washing your hands frequently with soap and water.
“As the number of cases in our communities continues to grow significantly, we must get better at our approach to controlling the spread of the disease," Bell said.
People with signs of illness should stay at home and not attend public gatherings.
All South Carolinians are encouraged to monitor for symptoms, practice social distancing, avoid touching frequently touched items, and regularly wash their hands, especially after being in a public place.
Anyone with concerns about their health should reach out to their healthcare provider or use the telehealth services provided by several health care systems. For telehealth options and the latest information about DHEC’s COVID-19 response efforts, please visit scdhec.gov/COVID-19. Visit scdmh.net for stress, anxiety and mental health resources from the S.C. Department of Mental Health.