COVID-19 Update

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control on Thursday announced 1,842 new cases of COVID-19 in the state, and 69 newly-confirmed deaths.

It brings the number of cases in the state up to 63,880 and the number of deaths to 1,053.

Horry County was home to 142 new cases and four additional deaths, bringing the county total up to 6,386 with 79 deaths.

The new deaths did to all occur in one day, according to DHEC, and date back to June 26.

"This delay in reporting of an individual’s death during this pandemic is often attributed to ensuring the death is accurately reported based on the most up-to-date federal guidance for determining a COVID-19-related death," DHEC said in a news release. "A cause of death is determined by a medical certifier or a coroner. As announced in late April, DHEC has implemented a cross analysis methodology to ensure an individual’s death is accurately reported. This includes comparing the initial information reported to the agency to the information included on an individual’s official death certificate."

DHEC says it can take longer to report a death if the person who died had "numerous medical issues" or if it "takes longer to collect the personal demographic information from the family." 

Additionally, the report of an individual’s cause of death may be delayed if the individual had numerous medical issues or it takes longer to collect the personal demographic information from the family.

DHEC announced it would start publishing the dates of COVID-19 related deaths on its website, which can be viewed by clicking here and scrolling down to the graph. 

"We cannot sacrifice the accuracy of our data for the sake of speed," State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said Thursday. 

Of the 8,643 samples tested Wednesday, DHEC said 21.3 percent of them came back positive. These numbers do not include the antibody tests. 

As of Thursday morning, there were 2,946 inpatient hospital beds available in the state and 7,935 in use, which is a 72.93% statewide hospital bed utilization rate, DHEC said.

Of the 7,935 occupied beds, 1,578 hold patients who have either tested positive or are under investigation for COVID-19.

Horry County's hospitals were at almost 84 percent capacity with 109 beds still free. 

DHEC has numerous free mobile testing clinics scheduled throughout the state. View them by clicking here

Tidelands is hosting several in our area. They start at 10 a.m. and last until testing kits run out. 

They are: 

• July 17 at Myrtle Beach Pelicans Stadium

• July 24 at Coastal Carolina University

• July 31 at the Myrtle Beach Pelicans Stadium

On a Thursday conference call, Bell pleaded with South Carolinians to practice social distancing and to wear a face mask when they're in public and can't stay 6 feet away from others. 

"These are the only weapons we have in this battle but fortunately, they are simple weapons," Bell said. 

The state epidemiologist stressed that COVID-19 is real, and it's taking the lives of South Carolina residents.

Bell said DHEC's own physician consultant Dr. Brannon Traxler lost her grandmother to COVID-19 several weeks ago. 

"These are people  from community who are loved dearly by family and friends who continue to die daily from COVID-19," she said, and asked South Carolina residents to step up and take preventative steps to help slow the spread of the virus. 

"This has been accomplished elsewhere and we can do it here in South Carolina," Bell added.

DHEC officials said on the conference call that only 129 South Carolinians have died from the flu this flu season, and if compared to the top causes of death in South Carolina in 2019, COVID-19 would be tied for 7th place. 

The virus has killed 1,053 South Carolinians in the past four months. 

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