COVID-19 Update

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control announced on Saturday 276 new cases of COVID-19, including 10 in Horry County, and no additional deaths related to the disease. 

That brings South Carolina's cumulative total of COVID-19 patients to 8,661 with 380 who died. 

Horry County, one of the least-affected counties in the state by a per-capita infection rate, is home to a cumulative total of 293 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 18 deaths. Accounting for undiagnosed patients, DHEC estimates there could be more than 2,000 COVID-19 cases in Horry County and almost 62,000 across the state.

[Click here to see DHEC's map of COVID-19 cases by zip code.]

South Carolina is ramping up its COVID-19, testing, with plans to test around 2 percent of the state's population, or 110,000 residents per month. DHEC is setting up mobile testing sites around the state, with a list of locations published on its website. There are currently 52 sites scheduled through June 5. The entries marked with "DHEC" are free.

[Click here for a list of all mobile testing locations]

There are no sites currently scheduled locally, but a DHEC spokesperson said Horry County would be home to a testing site in the next several weeks. Coastal Carolina University said it planned to host a testing site in June. 

The state is predicting 900 new cases a week by the end of May, with a cumulative total of 10,493 cases by May 30.

As of Saturday morning, more than 120,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 in South Carolina. There were 3,567 hospital beds available and 6,799 in use, putting South Carolina's hospital capacity at under 66 percent. Of the 6,799 beds in use, 434 were occupied by people who tested positive for COVID-19 or are under investigation for COVID-19. 

Horry County's hospital bed capacity was just under 67 percent.

State officials are encouraging residents to stay home when possible and minimize contact with people outside their households to slow the spread of the virus. The state recommends practicing social distancing, wearing a mask while out in public, avoiding touching frequently-touched items, routinely washing one's hands and monitoring for symptoms.

DHEC on Thursday launched a radio PSA to offer guidance on when and how to wear a mask. 

The agency says people should wear a mask that covers the mouth and nose when in public, wash the mask after use, refrain from touching the front of the mask and wash their hands before handling their mask.

People shouldn't use surgical masks needed by medical professionals, and masks shouldn't be used on children younger than 2 years old, DHEC said.

While masks aren't as effective in protecting its owner from catching the virus, they can help the person wearing the mask protect those around them. Some people, especially younger people, can carry COVID-19 without showing symptoms, and even those who do show symptoms can still spread the virus before they know they're infected.

[Click here to listen to the PSA, and click here for a video on how to make your own mask.]

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