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DHEC: Mask mandates paying dividends in SC, COVID rates starting to fall
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DHEC: Mask mandates paying dividends in SC, COVID rates starting to fall

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COVID-19 Protections

Distance, hand washing and masks — several key steps in preventing the continued spread of COVID-19.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Local mask ordinances are helping to slow the spread of COVID-19, according to data released Wednesday by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

“This new data shows us what we already knew: Wearing face masks works,” said Dr. Linda Bell, S.C. Epidemiologist. “We’re strongly supportive of these local leaders’ initiatives that are centered on protecting the health and well being of their communities.”

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division has released a regularly updated map showing the counties and municipalities that currently have mask requirements in place, which is available on the home page of scemd.org. SCEMD’s map shows jurisdictions where masks are required by ordinance and where masks have been recommended by proclamation from local elected officials.

Analysis of local mask ordinances show:

  • As of this week, nearly 40 percent of residents, or approximately 2,000,000 South Carolinians, reside in jurisdictions that have local mask requirements in place.
  • When comparing the jurisdictions that have mask requirements in place to those that don't, the jurisdictions with mask requirements have shown a 46.3 percent greater decrease in the total number of cases during the four weeks after the requirements were implemented.

“We will be in a much better position in four to six weeks if South Carolinians practice physical distancing and use a mask,” Bell said. “Together, we can completely reverse our fortunes and create safe environments for our business recovery, for our lifestyle recovery, and particularly for our students returning to school in a few short weeks, but we must act more aggressively, and now.”

Data analysis also shows:

  • Those jurisdictions with mask requirements in place have seen an overall decrease of 15.1 percent of total cases for the four weeks after the requirements were implemented compared to before the requirements were in place. This is an overall decrease of 34.6 cases per 100,000 people from before the mask requirements to after.
  • During the same time frame, those jurisdictions without mask requirements have experienced an overall increase in total cases of 30.4 percent, as well as an average increase of 24.1 cases per 100,000 people when compared to jurisdictions with a mask requirement in place.

“The residents in jurisdictions that acted first are seeing the benefits earlier,” Bell said. “This shows the sooner prevention measures are adopted, the sooner we all benefit.”

DHEC also announced 712 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 19 new probable cases, 45 additional confirmed deaths and one new probable death.

The Pee Dee reported 79 confirmed cases. Florence County reported 42 cases, Darlington County reported 13 cases, Williamsburg County reported nine cases, Chesterfield County reported seven cases, Marion County reported five cases and Williamsburg County reported zero cases.

Florence County reported the Pee Dee's only two deaths.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases in South Carolina to 102,143, probable cases to 831, confirmed deaths to 2,057, and 87 probable deaths.

As of Tuesday, a total of 857,773 tests have been conducted in the state. DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory is operating extended hours and is testing specimens seven days a week, and the Public Health Laboratory’s current time frame for providing results to health care providers is 24 to 48 hours

The total number of individual test results reported to DHEC yesterday statewide was 3,627 (not including antibody tests) and the percent positive was 19.6%.

Currently, there are 145 mobile testing events scheduled through Sept. 29 with new testing events added regularly. Find a mobile testing clinic event near you at scdhec.gov/covid19mobileclinics.

Residents can visit scdhec.gov/covid19testing for information about getting tested at one of 227 permanent COVID-19 testing facilities across the state.

Since July 22, the federal government has required hospitals nationwide to report data directly to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through a new TeleTracking system, which replaces the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Healthcare Safety Network system that had been used initially by hospitals for reporting COVID-19 data.

Hospitals report their information each day to HHS by way of TeleTracking, and that same reporting is also provided to DHEC. On Wednesday, the state reported that 8,261 hospital beds were occupied, a 79.57% utilization rate, and that 1,116 of the state's ICU beds were occupied, a 76.39% utilization rate.

There are 1,366 COVID patients hospitalized, and 333 of them are in ICU beds.

The state has 1,568 ventilators available and 514 of them are in use, 206 of them for COVID patients.

In the Pee Dee, 88 percent of hospital beds are occupied with Florence County reporting no beds available with all 667 beds in use.

For the latest information related to COVID-19, visit scdhec.gov/COVID-19. Visit scdmh.net for stress, anxiety and mental health resources from the S.C. Department of Mental Health.

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