More than 500 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed by health officials in South Carolina on Sunday.
With 515 more positive tests reported by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, there have been 129,484 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in South Carolina since testing began in March.
Health officials also reported 24 more coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the state’s death toll to 2,915.
The new positive results were based on 5,482 tests reported to DHEC. Sunday’s totals were a reduction from the amount of positive COVID-19 tests reported on Friday and Saturday.
Which counties were affected?
Health officials said Richland County had the most new positive tests with 77 cases reported Sunday. Greenville (64) and Charleston (43) counties rounded out the top three areas with the most new cases of COVID-19.
Richland County has seen an uptick in cases recently, which coincides with the return of thousands of college students to the University of South Carolina and other campuses. Overall, 13,133 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Richland County since testing began, second most in South Carolina behind Charleston County (14,925).
Lexington County had 16 new confirmed cases, bringing its overall total to 6,177, while Kershaw County had seven new case to up its total to 1,713, according to DHEC.
Other than one middle-age person in York County, all of the new deaths reported by DHEC were in elderly people who had tested positive for COVID-19. Of those deaths, two each were reported in Richland, Georgetown, Greenville, Lancaster, and Orangeburg counties.
Single elderly deaths were also confirmed in Anderson, Barnwell, Beaufort, Charleston, Dorchester, Edgefield, Horry, Jasper, Kershaw, Oconee, Pickens, Saluda and York counties, according to DHEC.
The 208 total confirmed coronavirus deaths in Richland County is third most in the state, behind Greenville (265) and Charleston (235) counties. Health officials confirmed 148 overall deaths in Lexington County, and 35 in Kershaw County.
How is COVID-19 trending in SC?
The number of daily new cases reported in South Carolina hit a high of 2,343 on July 18.
In the month after, totals slowly dropped, including a stretch of 13 days in a row under 1,000 toward the end of August. Before the weekend, there was a stretch of five days with fewer than 750 new cases each. But on Friday and Saturday DHEC confirmed 951 and 827 new cases, respectively.
DHEC is projecting 6,469 cases over the next week.
State health officials credited the recent decline in part to a significant slowdown in virus activity in areas with face mask requirements and where residents are practicing social distancing.
But they also have said lower testing totals have played a role as well.
After regularly reporting more than 10,000 tests a day in July, DHEC has not recorded that many throughout August and September and bottomed out at under 3,000 tests on multiple occasions. Officials have said there has not been a reduction in testing opportunities or capacity, but demand has slowed as “testing fatigue” sets in.
To account for lowered test totals, officials have highlighted the importance of the percentage of tests run that come back positive. Nationally, about 8.6% of tests turn up positive, according to the CDC.
On Sunday, health officials said the percent positive in South Carolina was 9.4%.
In all, 1,138,860 tests have been completed in South Carolina since March.
Currently, there are 302 mobile testing events scheduled through Oct. 29 and 233 permanent COVID-19 testing facilities across the state, according to DHEC.
Are all cases accounted for?
State health officials estimate that around 86% of South Carolinians who contract the virus don’t get tested.
DHEC has also been recording probable cases and probable deaths.
A probable case is someone who has not received a lab test result but has virus symptoms or a positive antibody test. A probable death is someone who has not gotten a lab test but whose death certificate lists COVID-19 as a cause of death or a contributing factor.
On Sunday, state health officials reported seven new probable cases and no new probable deaths.
That puts the total number of probable cases at 2,380 and total probable deaths at 149.
How are hospitals being impacted?
On Sunday,the state reported 752 patients in South Carolina hospitals have the novel coronavirus, including 205 in intensive care and 130 on ventilators. The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized at one time peaked at 1,723 on July 23.
In all, 7,943 of 10,043 in-patient beds in S.C. hospitals are occupied, including 1,063 of ICU beds.