COVID vaccine live updates: Here’s what to know in South Carolina on Sept. 16

·4 min read

We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and vaccines in South Carolina. Check back for updates.

COVID-related deaths in SC surpass 10,000

At least 656,341 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and 10,041 have died in South Carolina since March 2020, according to state health officials.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported 2,865 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, 456 more cases than reported the day before. The state also confirmed 41 additional coronavirus-related deaths.

At least 2,568 people in the state were reported hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Thursday, with 600 patients being treated in intensive care units. Also, 410 patients were reported on ventilators.

As of Thursday, 11.4% of COVID-19 tests were reported positive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 5% or lower means there is a low level of community spread.

Approximately 50% of South Carolinians eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine are fully vaccinated, and almost 59% have received at least one dose, according to health officials.

Horry County doctors discourage ivermectin use as COVID-19 ‘cure’

Horry County medical professionals are pushing back against the idea that ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug, can be used to treat COVID-19 infections.

The drug, which is also sold as an animal de-wormer at a different dosage, has been touted as a medicine “that can end the pandemic” by some conservative groups, including the Horry County Republican Party, according to The Sun News. However, local doctors warn the so-called treatments don’t work and could be more harmful than helpful.

There’s also no medical consensus that ivermectin is an effective COVID-19 treatment.

“I think the potential for overdose is there, absolutely,” Paul Richardson, chief medical officer at Conway Medical Center, told the newspaper.

“I’m a physician, and I don’t have ivermectin in my medicine cabinet,” Richardson continued. “That, to me, is something I don’t think they should be (doing).”

Where are COVID hot spots in Horry County?

Coronavirus cases have dipped slightly across Horry County, but some communities are faring better than others.

The county reported more than 2,220 new COVID-19 cases in the week ending Sept. 12, an improvement from the 3,138 cases reported the week before, according to a data analysis by The Sun News.

Read the full analysis here.

Richland Co. approves emergency mask mandate

The Richland County Council passed an emergency mask mandate requiring residents to mask up in most public places, including schools, The State reported.

The ordinance passed in a 9-2 vote. Starting Wednesday, residents have to wear a mask in commercial spaces and other crowded areas. Those without one will face a $25 fine. Employers are also required to enforce the new mask rule.

Councilwoman Gretchen Barron, who voted in favor of the mask requirement, cited the spread of COVID-19 and its risk to those too young to be vaccinated.

“I wear a mask for those other people,” she said.

SC DHEC won’t push for mask mandate in schools. Here’s why

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says it won’t issue a universal order requiring masks in schools, despite pressure from parents concerned about the rising COVID-19 cases among school-age children, The State reported.

The surge in cases has forced thousands of students, staff and teachers into quarantine and interrupted in-person learning at schools across the state. DHEC Director Edward Simmer said while he understands parents’ concerns, a sweeping school mask mandate isn’t enforceable.

“An order that I cannot enforce is not effective,” he told the newspaper. “And right now I’m convinced that if I wrote an order, it could not be enforced.”

Read the full story here.

SC lawmakers join effort to repeal state’s school mask ban

Two South Carolina lawmakers, one Democrat and one Republican, have joined a bipartisan effort requesting a special legislative session to repeal a temporary budget proviso banning face mask mandates in schools, according to The State.

Rep. Jermaine Johnson, D-Richland, and state Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington, are asking for an emergency session to do away with the controversial rule as schools across the state see an uptick in COVID-19 cases among students and staff.

“When the House and Senate passed Proviso 1.108 earlier this year, it looked like the pandemic was winding down and would soon be in the rear-view mirror,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “The situation has changed,”

They further argued that mask mandates and other COVID-related decisions should be left up to local government leaders.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has been staunchly opposed to mask mandates and previously signed an executive order barring local school districts from enforcing them.

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