We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccines in South Carolina. Check back for updates.
Cases top 478,000
At least 478,739 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in South Carolina and 8,289 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials.
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported 511 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, down from 607 reported the day before.
Ten coronavirus-related deaths were also reported.
At least 522 people were reported hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Saturday.
As of Saturday, 5.3% of COVID-19 tests were reported positive. Health officials say 5% or lower indicates a low risk of community spread.
More than 1.18 million South Carolina residents had completed COVID-19 vaccination as of Thursday.
COVID spread above target for second week in row
Last week, South Carolina’s level of coronavirus spread was above the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “low” marker for the second consecutive week, according to DHEC data.
From April 18-24, DHEC reported that 5.14% of coronavirus tests came back positive. The CDC says that a positive rate consistently below 5% means the virus spread is slowing in a community.
In the same week, health officials reported 3,374 new coronavirus cases, down from 4,006 the previous week and an average of about 482 cases a day.
Almost 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered last week in South Carolina.
SC lifts Johnson & Johnson pause
The S.C. DHEC on Friday lifted its 10-day pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.
The pause followed reports that the vaccine was connected to dangerous, but extremely rare, blood clots.
Federal health officials have since determined the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risk of the blood clots, which have occurred in 15 out of the nearly 8 million people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“Safety is our top priority. This pause was an example of our extensive safety monitoring working as they were designed to work — identifying even these small number of cases,” Acting U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement announcing federal officials had lifted the pause on the vaccine.
The DHEC said Friday it had notified vaccine providers that they could start administering the vaccine again.
Deadline approaching for jobless benefits
South Carolina residents who file for unemployment face a fast-approaching deadline if they want to continue receiving payments.
Those receiving benefits under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program have until May 5 to file the appropriate documents, which include proof that employment or planned employment was impacted by the pandemic, The Rock Hill Herald reported.
“The agency does not want to turn off someone’s unemployment benefits, but if we do not receive that document by the May 5 deadline we are actually federally required to stop payment on that individual’s claim,” Heather Biance, spokesperson for the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, told The Rock Hill Herald.
Failure to file by the deadline could force some claimants to pay back the benefits they’ve received so far this year.
Under federal legislation, people have 90 days to file the unemployment documents. It can be a W-2 form, business license, tax return or letter from a company offering a job. The workforce department has been in weekly contact with claimants about the requirement. Files can be uploaded online.