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We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccines in South Carolina. Check back for updates.
Cases near 475,000
At least 474,999 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in South Carolina and 8,208 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials.
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control on Saturday reported 616 new COVID-19 cases, down from 847 reported the day before.
Twelve coronavirus-related deaths were also reported.
At least 522 people were reported hospitalized with COVID-19 on Saturday.
As of Saturday, 3.7% of COVID-19 tests were reported positive. Health officials say 5% or lower indicates a low risk of community spread.
More than 1 million South Carolina residents had completed vaccination as of Thursday.
Few fully vaccinated people in SC contract virus
Health officials have discovered only a small number of COVID-19 cases among South Carolinians who have been fully vaccinated against the virus.
The “breakthrough cases” are extremely rare and are typically mild, health officials say. But it’s important to track them to possibly identify new mutations of the virus if they emerge.
They also provide insight into the effectiveness of the vaccines for immunocompromised patients who have weakened immune systems and struggle to fight off infections.
As of April 8, officials reported 155 breakthrough cases among the 893,400 state residents who had been fully vaccinated by that time. Seventeen of those patients were hospitalized and at least one person had died, officials told The State.
If all of the 155 breakthrough cases were found among S.C. residents, just .01% of fully vaccinated South Carolinians experienced a rare post-vaccination infection and roughly .001% were hospitalized.
Experts say that low percentage proves the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccines.
Some businesses require masks as Beaufort County drops mandate
Some Beaufort County governments are starting to lift their mask mandates, but health officials are still urging residents to wear them and some private businesses are still requiring them.
Beaufort County, Bluffton and Port Royal have opted to allow their mask requirements to expire. The Town of Hilton Head Island and the City of Beaufort are the last municipalities in the county with face mask requirements.
But some businesses plan to keep their own rules in place.
“As a private business, you can decide whether you allow customers or visitors onto your property if they are not wearing a mask. This is similar to the ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service’ policy that you commonly see,” Fisher Phillips LLP, a national law firm that focuses on employment and labor issues, told The Island Packet.
Many national businesses still require masks, and their rules don’t change when local government lift mandates.
Spokespeople for CVS, Best Buy, Kroger and Walmart, for example, confirmed with The Island Packet that their companies still have nationwide mask requirements for shoppers and employees.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends the use of face masks in public, even for people who have been fully vaccinated.
State gets $3.7 million to battle COVID-19 variants
South Carolina is set to receive $3.7 million in federal funds to slow the spread of COVID-19 variants.
The funding is part of a $1.7 billion investment from President Joe Biden’s administration to monitor and track different virus variants that are emerging in the United States. It will be sent to the state in May.
The investment was included in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, called the American Rescue Plan.
So far, two COVID-19 variants have been reported in South Carolina: the U.K. variant and the South Africa variant — both of which are known to spread more quickly and easily, according to the CDC.
“With the information from sequencing, the CDC and state and local public health leaders can implement known prevention measures to stop the spread,” according to a statement from the White House.