Release of COVID data delayed due to high volume of incoming tests, SC DHEC says

Joshua Boucher/jboucher@thestate.com
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South Carolina is delaying the release of several days’ worth of coronavirus case numbers due to the sheer volume of tests that came in over the weekend, signaling the continuation of high case counts throughout the Palmetto State.

Typically, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control releases three days’ worth of data every Monday.

“Due to the large volume of test results we are receiving and the need to ensure that data released publicly are as accurate as possible, data reports from Thursday - Sunday will be delayed today, Monday, Jan. 24, and will be released tomorrow,” a note on the DHEC website reads. “DHEC regrets this delay and appreciates the public’s patience in our efforts to provide accurate COVID-19 data so South Carolinians can have as much information as possible during this unprecedented pandemic.”

The recent explosion in new coronavirus infections across the state is coinciding with extremely long wait times at some COVID-19 testing sites, a shortage of at-home tests available at some pharmacies, and delays for many people awaiting their test results. State health and federal Centers for Disease Control officials say the new omicron variant is to blame for the spike, making up 95% of all new cases around the country.

The state’s total COVID-19 cases are at more than 1,280,000 since March 2020. The state is now averaging some 16,800 new coronavirus cases each week.

As case counts continue to grow, so does the state’s death toll. More than 530 people have died of COVID-19 in South Carolina over the past month.

DHEC officials have recommended that all eligible children ages 12 and up receive a booster Pfizer vaccine five months after their second dose to become “maximally vaccinated.” All eligible adults who are fully vaccinated — two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson — are encouraged to get booster vaccines as well to help fight off the virus, as the vast majority of the new cases are people who are unvaccinated.

There have been 630 deaths — 0.0246% of all cases — as of Jan. 21 from “breakthrough” cases, meaning an infected person is fully vaccinated with at least two doses. The majority of deaths — 59% — are people age 71 and up. About 61% of those who died had comorbid conditions. An estimated 1.5686% of all fully vaccinated people have been infected, while nearly 0.0895% of fully vaccinated people have been hospitalized.

Health officials recommend wearing a face mask and getting the coronavirus vaccine to help limit the spread of the virus.

South Carolina has one of the country’s lowest rates of full vaccination status — people with two vaccine shots — among its eligible population, at an estimated 52.7%.

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