The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control on Thursday announced the biggest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases in both South Carolina and Horry County.
South Carolina saw an increase of 987 new cases, bringing the state total up to 21,533.
Horry County saw a jump of 128 cases, bringing our cumulative case count up to 1,560. Locally, 35 people have died from COVID-19.
Accounting for undiagnosed cases, DHEC believes there could be more than 11,000 cases in Horry County and almost 154,000 cases across the state.
As COVID-19 spreads across South Carolina, state and local testing data show that while youn…
South Carolina has increased its testing capacity both locally and across the state. While the increased testing is catching more cases, the percentage of cases coming back positive keeps rising, indicating that a larger share of the population is becoming infected, whether they know it or not.
More than 14 percent of Wednesday's tests came back positive.
Governor Henry McMaster has not signaled support for reinstating restrictions that were in place in March and April, and has voiced opposition to shutting the state down again.
DHEC is encouraging everyone to wear masks, avoid large crowds, and practice social distancing as a way to stop the virus.
"Every one of us has a role to play in stopping COVID-19," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell in a lengthy statement included with Thursday's DHEC update. "This virus does not spread on its own. It’s spread around our state by infected people who carry it wherever they go – their work, the supermarket, the post office, a friend’s house. By not following public health precautions, many are putting all at risk.
"It is essential that each of us, every day, wear a mask in public and stay physically distanced from others.
"We understand that what we’re continuing to ask of everyone is not easy and that many are tired of hearing the same warnings and of taking the same daily precautions, but this virus does not take a day off. Every day that we don’t all do our part, we are extending the duration of illnesses, missed work, hospitalizations and deaths in our state.
"There is no vaccine for COVID-19. There are only individual behaviors and actions we must all maintain that help stop its spread.
"Healthy people may feel they are resistant to the virus, may feel that even if they contract it, they’ll have mild symptoms and feel better in a few days. This may be true for some – but it’s also true that we are seeing hospitalizations and deaths in those who were previously healthy and in almost every age group.
"Historically, South Carolinians have willingly made sacrifices for the benefit of all. Stopping the spread of this disease will not be easy. However, I am confident in our willingness to take the current actions necessary of wearing face masks and social distancing in order to care for each other. Together we can meet this challenge."
The state announced four additional deaths from the virus on Thursday, but none were local.
The state's hospital bed capacity was just over 70 percent, and Horry County's hospital capacity was around 81 percent.
Different local hospitals have said they normally operate anywhere from 78 percent capacity up to almost 100 percent capacity, and health experts aren't currently worried about the state's hospital systems becoming overwhelmed with patients.
DHEC has a list of all mobile testing events where residents can get tested for free. Click here to see the list.
Here are some upcoming testing events:
• June 19, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Inlet Square Mall, 10125 Highway 17 Bypass, Murrells Inlet
• June 24, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Tidelands Health Rehabilitation Hospital, 100 Water Grande Boulevard, Little River
• June 26, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Coastal Carolina University, 100 Chanticleer Drive, Conway