CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Gov. Henry McMaster said if COVID-19 cases continue to increase in South Carolina, current restrictions on crowds may continue into the Fall.
“If we continue to see this kind of danger going across our state, we will have no choice but to keep these restrictions on crowds and gatherings in place, and that means this Fall will not be like other Falls. We will not be able to have college football, would not be able to have high school football,” McMaster said during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
The governor said businesses that are currently closed like movie theaters and spectator sports would not reopen if the current increase of cases continues.
On Tuesday, officials with the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported a record breaking 1,741 new cases of COVID-19 in the state.
Dr. Linda Bell with DHEC reported today records were also broken with the amount of hospital beds being used by patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 or under investigation for the virus with 1,160 hospital beds in use.
In addition, there were 24 reported deaths in the state, which Bell said was another record.
“Unless we do something dramatically different to control this disease that is spread simply by breathing from infected people, then we will be looking at projections that are far worse than what we’re experiencing now,” Bell said.
With the July 4 weekend coming up, McMaster urged South Carolinians to be careful and follow CDC guidelines.
“Everybody wants to get out. But it is a dangerous opportunity for us to spread this virus,” he said.
The governor also warned businesses who may be going against CDC guidelines.
He said if someone was to contract the virus at their establishment due to non-compliance and take that business to court, there would be “an enormous price to pay.”
“I would hate to be the one to try to explain to a jury of your and my peers that I, in opening up my establishment, whether it is in the daytime or the nighttime for any age, and allowed people to come in and to congregate and to be close,” he said. ”And to violate all the rules, and I allowed that to happen in my place and someone would get sick and die, and they can prove it.”
McMaster urged everyone to take the virus seriously and practice social distancing and wear masks.
Although the governor has not issued a mandatory ordering people to wear face masks, several municipalities throughout the Lowcountry have.
“A handful have issued certain mask rules, distance rules, and they’ve applied penalties, I encourage them. They know their local situation, they know their local customers, they know their people, they know the business establishment types. Careful consideration of restrictions is entirely appropriate at that local level. One size does not fit all.”
State health officials have reported 1,497 new cases of COVID-19 and 24 additional deaths in South Carolina. Charleston County had the highest number of cases reported on Wednesday with 266 cases.
There are currently 1,160 hospital beds occupied by patients who have either tested positive or are under investigation for COVID-19, which Bell said was a record high.
Wednesday’s update brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in the state to 37,809, and those who have died to 759, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control.
As of yesterday, a total of 429,692 tests have been conducted in the state.
The total number of individuals tested yesterday statewide was 7,834 (not including antibody tests) and the percent positive was 19.1%.
The most recent data on recovery rates was released on Monday by DHEC showing that 84% of 18,418 individuals, who the department has onset data on, have recovered from the virus while 16% remain ill.