We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and vaccines in South Carolina. Check back for updates.
Fewer than 1,000 COVID-19 cases reported for third day in a row
At least 707,935 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and 11,351 have died in South Carolina since March 2020, according to state health officials.
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported 864 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, an increase of 318 cases from the day before. The state also confirmed 15 additional COVID-19-related deaths.
There were 440 probable cases and seven probable deaths reported, data shows.
At least 1,169 people in the state were reported hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Thursday, including 340 patients who are being treated in intensive care units and 234 who are on ventilators. Roughly 12% of hospitalizations across the state are COVID-19-related, data shows.
As of Thursday, 8.4% 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.
Nearly 54% of South Carolinians eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine are fully vaccinated, and more than 61% have received at least one dose, according to health officials.
SC first responders sue over vaccine mandates
Some South Carolina first responders opposed to COVID-19 vaccine mandates are taking the issue to court, despite losing an increasing number of their comrades to the virus.
The first of four lawsuits backed by nearly 80 first responders challenging vaccine requirements will be addressed at a federal hearing Thursday, according to The State. Several entities are named in the complaints, including the cities of Charleston and North Charleston.
Both governments and the county fire department have required all employees to get the jab — or risk losing their jobs.
Lawyer Tom Winslow, who represents first responders in each of the four cases, said his clients should be able to choose whether to get the COVID-19 shot.
“This is not about a vaccine, or medicine or a virus. It’s not about employers or employees. It’s not about even a mandate,” Winslow told The State. “The question is where do you believe your ability to control your own body comes from?”
Read the full story here.
Need a COVID-19 vaccine? Free shots available in Lancaster County
Lancaster County residents can receive a free COVID-19 vaccine, thanks to a new pop-up clinic, The Rock Hill Herald reports.
A vaccination drive at Lancaster High School will offer the Pfizer vaccine on Friday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Attendees must be at least 12 years old to get the jab, according to The Herald.
Beaufort is ending mask mandate for city buildings
Beaufort is set to lift its mandate requiring face masks inside city-run buildings, The Island Packet reported.
City Manager Bill Prokop announced the decision during a City Council meeting on Tuesday, citing a dip in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
The mask mandate expires Monday. Masks will still be required in municipal court, however.
Vaccine hesitancy still an issue amid pandemic, SC DHEC says
Despite messaging about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, more than 2 million South Carolina residents eligible to get the shot remain unvaccinated, according to the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Officials with the public health agency say efforts to persuade people to get the shot, including pro-vaccine messaging and cash incentives, have largely fallen ”on deaf ears,” The State reported.
“It is frustrating and deflating when you’re doing everything you can to make it readily available, easy to understand and you just have a large reluctance,” Keith Frost, an assistant chief in DHEC’s Bureau of Air Quality, told the newspaper. “Because the science is there, the science shows that it’s effective.”
Experts also pointed to COVID-19 misinformation and the politicization of the jab as contributing factors to vaccine hesitancy.
Read the full story here.