State epidemiologist on newest COVID-19 numbers: ‘Wearing face masks works’

Updated: Aug. 12, 2020 at 7:20 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina’s state epidemiologist says new data released Wednesday indicates mask ordinaces across the state are helping to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“This new data shows us what we already knew, wearing face masks works,” Dr. Linda Bell said. “We’re strongly supportive of these local leaders’ initiatives that are centered on protecting the health and wellbeing of their communities.”

DHEC says analysis of local mask ordinances show:

  • As of this week, nearly 40 percent of residents, or approximately 2,000,000 South Carolinians, reside in jurisdictions that have local mask requirements in place.
  • When comparing the jurisdictions that have mask requirements in place to those that don’t, the jurisdictions with mask requirements have shown a 46.3 percent greater decrease in the total number of cases during the four weeks after the requirements were implemented.

“We will be in a much better position in four to six weeks if South Carolinians practice physical distancing and use a mask,” Bell said. “Together, we can completely reverse our fortunes and create safe environments for our business recovery, for our lifestyle recovery, and particularly for our students returning to school in a few short weeks, but we must act more aggressively, and now.”

Data analysis also shows:

  • Those jurisdictions with mask requirements in place have seen an overall decrease of 15.1 percent of total cases for the four weeks after the requirements were implemented compared to before the requirements were in place. This is an overall decrease of 34.6 cases per 100,000 people from before the mask requirements to after.
  • During the same time frame, those jurisdictions without mask requirements have experienced an overall increase in total cases of 30.4 percent, as well as an average increase of 24.1 cases per 100,000 people when compared to jurisdictions with a mask requirement in place.

“The residents in jurisdictions that acted first are seeing the benefits earlier,” Bell said. “This shows the sooner prevention measures are adopted, the sooner we all benefit.”

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reported 712 newly-confirmed COVID-19 cases Wednesday and 45 deaths, along with 19 new probable cases and one probable death attributable to the illness.

Tuesday’s update brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in the state to 102,143, and those who have died to 2057, according to DHEC. So far, there has been a total of 831 probable cases and 87 probable deaths, the state health agency reported.

As of Tuesday, a total of 857,773 tests have been conducted in the state. The total number of individual test results reported to DHEC on Monday statewide was 3,627 (not including antibody tests) and the percent positive was 19.6%, down slightly from Tuesday’s 20%.

The following is a breakdown provided by DHEC of total positive cases and total deaths in Lowcountry counties as of Wednesday afternoon.

Beaufort County4,20056
Berkeley County4,28666
Charleston County12,522193
Colleton County82733
Dorchester County3,13150
Georgetown County1,49024
Orangeburg County2,46170
Williamsburg County1,03131

Confirmed and probable cases reported on Monday are below:

Confirmed and probable deaths reported on Monday are below:

DHEC released the following information regarding hospital bed occupancy:

  • Inpatient beds: 8,261 in use; 76.57% utilization rate; 1,336 inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients (confirmed or suspected)
  • ICU beds: 1,116 in use; 76.39% utilization rate; 333 ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients (confirmed or suspected)
  • Ventilators: 514 in use; 206 by COVID-19 patients (confirmed or suspected)

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