We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccines in South Carolina. Check back for updates.
Cases surpass 473,000
At least 473,442 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in South Carolina and 8,194 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials.
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control on Thursday reported 589 new COVID-19 cases, up from 466 the day before.
Two coronavirus-related deaths were also reported.
At least 567 people were reported hospitalized with COVID-19 on Thursday, with 141 in intensive care units.
As of Thursday, 6.3% of COVID-19 tests were reported positive. Health officials say 5% or lower means there is a low level of community spread.
More than 2.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered in South Carolina, and more than 995,000 people in the state had “completed vaccination” as of Tuesday.
Port Royal could soon ditch mask rules
Port Royal in Beaufort County will soon begin “strongly encouraging” but not requiring residents to wear a mask or face covering in public spaces, The Island Packet reported.
The town council voted Wednesday to extend the COVID-19 mask rules through April 30, coinciding with a similar plan for the City of Beaufort’s mask mandate. But starting in May, the mandate will no longer be in place.
Like other cities across South Carolina and the country, Port Royal issued a mask requirement last July to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
Graduation plans change for this Midlands school district
In a typical year, Lexington 1 school district graduates walk the stage at USC’s Colonial Life Arena, but the pandemic has forced a change of plans.
Instead, high school graduates will strut their caps and gowns at their school’s football stadium this June, The State reported.
COVID restrictions at USC’s basketball arena would have made it too impractical to use as a venue, school officials said.
USC wants stadium completely full this fall. Will vaccine passports be required?
The University of South Carolina is hoping to have the Williams-Brice Stadium stands at 100% capacity during the upcoming football season, and attendees likely won’t have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to get inside, The State reported.
University officials say they will weigh guidance from health experts at federal and state levels to determine if full capacity is safe this fall.
“We’re going to comply with what those guidance are,” USC President Robert Caslen said Wednesday. “If it allows us to be 100%, that’s exactly what we would like to do — and if we have the ability to do that, we’ll definitely do that.”
College and professional football programs have announced varying approaches when it comes to attendance. The NFL’s Buffalo Bills are aiming for 100% capacity, but will require all fans to show proof of vaccination before entry.
At USC, Caslen said, “I’m not sure that’s going to be necessary.”
Catholic diocese, schools sue SC over COVID relief funds
The Catholic Church is calling for changes to the South Carolina Constitution amid an ongoing dispute over whether the state’s private schools can receive COVID-19 relief funds, The State reported.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston filed a 14-page civil rights lawsuit this week contending that Article XI, Section 4 of the state Constitution should be cut out.
“It violates the equal protection and free exercise clauses of the U.S. Constitution, and should no longer bar Plaintiffs’ schools from equal access to these essential relief funds,” the complaint reads.
The suit is backed by more than 50 religious and independent schools, colleges and universities across South Carolina.