The state Department of Health and Environmental Control Saturday announced two additional deaths connected to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, in South Carolina.
Officials said one of the people who died was a resident of Horry County and the other was a resident of Richland County. Both of them were elderly people who had underlying health conditions, according to DHEC. That brings the state’s total number of deaths related to the disease to 15.
One of the two people who died was a patient at Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital in Murrells Inlet who tested positive for COVID-19, Tidelands Health officials said in a news release.
“We extend our deepest sympathy to the patient’s loved ones for this profound loss,” Bruce Bailey, president and chief executive officer of Tidelands Health, said in the release. “We grieve with them, even as our health care professionals continue to work tirelessly and provide extraordinary care to those in our community who are afflicted with this dangerous virus.”
To date, 12 patients tested at Tidelands Health facilities have been confirmed positive for the disease. Two remain hospitalized at Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital and nine are recovering at home.
"Our sincere sympathies are with the family and friends of these individuals as well as the family and friends of everyone who has lost someone to this disease,” Dr. Brannon Traxler, a DHEC physician, said in a statement. “Having to report two additional deaths today is a critical reminder of how serious this situation is and how we all have a responsibility to protect ourselves and our communities from the spread of COVID-19.”
So far, DHEC has reported 660 confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Carolina across 40 counties.
The state agency reported 121 of those cases were announced Saturday because of a backlog that had developed at DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory due to a nationwide shortage in the chemicals needed to perform tests.
As of Friday, DHEC’s Laboratory has the required chemicals and is processing tests as normal. The lab is operating extended hours, testing samples seven days a week.
There have been 28 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Horry.
Two Horry County residents have now died from the disease.
The first death of an Horry County resident related to COVID-19 was announced Tuesday; that person had no underlying health conditions.
DHEC encourages South Carolina residents to stay home and minimize contact with people outside their homes to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Those in the state are advised to monitor themselves for symptoms, practice social distancing, avoid touching frequently touched items and routinely wash their hands.