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Over a year after the pandemic first hit South Carolina, the state has tested nearly 6.5 million samples for the novel coronavirus.

As of Thursday, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control had logged 6,496,895 COVID-19 tests. Even as more people get vaccinated and the growth of new cases drops, authorities have encouraged South Carolinians to seek out testing if they have any symptoms or potential exposures.

Statewide numbers

New cases reported: 720 confirmed, 459 probable.

Total cases in S.C.: 458,723 confirmed, 81,667 probable.

Percent positive: 4.9 percent.

New deaths reported: 9 confirmed, 3 probable.

Total deaths in S.C.: 7,928 confirmed, 1,049 probable.

Percent of ICU beds filled: 69 percent.

How does S.C. rank in vaccines administered per 100,000 people? 

42nd as of March 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hardest-hit areas 

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In the total number of newly confirmed cases, Greenville County (97), Charleston County (67) and Spartanburg County (60) saw the highest totals. 

What about the tri-county?

Charleston County had 67 new cases on March 20, while Berkeley had 38 and Dorchester had 28.

Deaths

Two of the new confirmed deaths reported were people age 35 to 64 and seven were patients age 65 and older. 

Hospitalizations

Of the 560 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of March 20, 144 were in the ICU and 73 were using ventilators.

What do experts say?

Though the prevalence of COVID-19 in South Carolina is consistently declining, disease researchers are increasingly concerned about “long COVID,” loosely defined as cases where someone doesn’t recover from the illness within a few weeks. 

“Information is still emerging on long COVID,” Kelly, of DHEC, said. “We’re seeing more cases than we initially anticipated.” 

She said some of the symptoms that can persist range from “peculiar” — such as the loss of taste or smell — to “concerning” — like shortness of breath.

There is no specific diagnostic test to confirm long COVID, Kelly added. Meanwhile, the National Institutes of Health announced an initiative in late February to further study the condition.

Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-607-4312. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.



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