White House report: ‘COVID risk to all Americans is at a historic high’

Updated: Dec. 7, 2020 at 8:37 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The White House coronavirus task force warns that states are in a “very dangerous place.”

Every week the task force sends tailored data and recommendations to all governors on how states should respond to the pandemic. Gov. Henry McMaster receives the weekly report.

The communications director for the governor’s office, Brian Symmes, says the reports are made available upon request. They are not posted publicly.

“The reports have proven to be useful in giving us a good snapshot of what the state faces, but it’s largely information that we already have available to us because of the great work being done in the state,” Symmes said.

The latest report expresses concerns about a post-Thanksgiving coronavirus case surge.

South Carolina’s latest report from Nov. 29 states “COVID risk to all Americans is at a historic high.” It states the U.S. is in a very dangerous place and if local policies do not reflect the seriousness of the current situation, all public health officials must alert the state population directly.

It states significant behavior changes are needed including ensuring masks at all times in public and increasing physical distancing through significant reduction in capacity in public and private indoor spaces. That includes restaurants and bars.

According to the report, 89% of counties in the state have moderate or high levels of community transmission for the virus. The report states South Carolina is in the red zone and is among the states with lowest rates in the country coming in at 45.

A report from the beginning of October had South Carolina ranked at 21.

The latest report states South Carolina had 194 new cases per 100,000 population, compared to a national average of 349 per 100,000.

“Governor McMaster enjoys a very productive relationship with the task force,” Symmes said. “He’s met with Vice President Pence, Dr. Deborah Birx and has regularly participated in calls with the task force leadership since the beginning of the pandemic. The information and recommendations provided by the task force are certainly factors in the governor’s decision-making, but they’re not the only factors.”

The latest task force report recommends proactive weekly testing of groups representative of the community including teachers, community college students, county workers, staff in crowded or congregate settings, all hospital personnel and large private sector employers.

They say it will help identify the depth and breadth of community infection.

The report states “it must be made clear that if you are over 65 or have significant health conditions, you should not enter any indoor public spaces where anyone is unmasked due to the immediate risk to your health.” It recommends people at this age to get groceries and medications delivered.

If you are under 40, you need to assume you became infected during the Thanksgiving period if you gathered beyond your immediate household, the report states.

Since the report was released, South Carolina has experienced its highest number of daily cases.

The task force says they are also seeing clear improvement in many European countries that implemented strong public and private mitigation but preserved schooling. It says many areas in the U.S. and state mitigation efforts remain inadequate. The report warns that all states and all counties must flatten the curve now in order to sustain the health system for both COVID and non-COVID emergencies.

The Governor’s office says the reports are shared with the “appropriate public health officials in the state.”

You can read the full report below.

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