Pedestrians with masks on Ocean Boulevard

Pedestrians with masks stroll along Ocean Boulevard on Saturday, May 23, 2020. Most beachgoers went without a mask. Photo by Christian Boschult 

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control on Friday announced that the state saw an increase of 1,081 new cases, bringing the state total up to 22,608.

Horry County saw a jump of 115 cases, bringing our cumulative case count up to 1,697. Locally, 39 people have died from COVID-19.  

Accounting for undiagnosed cases, DHEC believes there could be more than 12,000 cases in Horry County and almost 161,000 cases across the state.

South Carolina has increased its testing capacity both locally and across the state, with a total of 321,689 tests conducted as of Thursday, and 289,883 of those tests came back negative. 

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 16 percent of Wednesday's tests came back positive.

DHEC is encouraging everyone to wear masks, avoid large crowds, and practice social distancing as a way to stop the virus.

Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman addressed the AccelerateEd Task Force on Friday morning and urged people to do their part in helping stop the spread. 

"If you want to go back to school, if you want to go to football games, if you want to cheer on your team, you have got to wear masks in public," Spearman said. "Folks are just not doing it like they should. We are calling on the public to participate ... wearing a mask is effective and we need to do that."

SCDHEC emphasized in today's release that 18.4 percent of the positive cases in the state are coming from those between the ages of 21-30. Read more about that here

"The increases that we're seeing serve as a warning that young adults and youth are not immune to COVID-19," said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC physician consultant. "They also tell us that younger South Carolinians are not taking social distancing seriously."

Traxler said that while most youth and younger adults only experience a mild illness, that's not true for all. 

"We're calling on our younger generation of South Carolinians to be leaders in their communities by taking actions to stop the spread of COVID-19," Traxler said. "Lead by example and use your voice to let others know that social distancing and wearing a mask in public helps save lives."

DHEC reported that 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 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

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(1) comment

SallyeB

My son was tested at drive thru testing in Loris on Thursday! He has yet to receive results??

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