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Staying Safe By the Numbers

Celia Spell, M.S.
May 14, 2020
Dr. Cassandra Salgado
Cassandra Salgado, M.D., an infectious disease specialist at MUSC, is cautiously optimistic about easing restrictions but stresses that social distancing protocols remain important.

Physician scientists at MUSC are reviewing data every day and incorporating it into hospital policies, procedures and plans with the goal of keeping patients and the surrounding community safe and healthy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a transparent effort to keep the public informed, the hospital system created the MUSC COVID-19 Epidemiology Project to analyze the latest trends in the disease’s spread and to understand the status of transmission. With this data, MUSC hopes to guide and support any decision making by policymakers and community and business leaders as well as predict the critical needs of our hospitals and the people who need them.

As of May 14, more than 93,000 people in South Carolina have been tested, which amounts to around 1.8% of our population. Of those tested, 7,927 (8.5%) have tasted positive — or about 0.15% of the population. According to estimates by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), for every case that is detected through testing, there are 9-10 cases in the state that were not tested.

Which means there have likely been between 71,343 and 79,270 cases statewide since testing began.

Counties that have seen the most cases include Richland County with over 1,000 reported cases and almost 7,000 estimated cases and Greenville County with just under 1,000 reported cases and almost 6,000 estimated cases.

By comparison, Charleston County reported just under 500 cases and 3,000 estimated cases at the time of publication.

For some, COVID-19 presents with mild symptoms — much like a cold or even allergies. Others may not exhibit symptoms at all. For a few, however, COVID-19 can be severe and present with fever, chills, pressure in the chest and trouble breathing. With symptoms and cases across the board, not everyone who has COVID-19 gets tested, which is why DHEC can only provide estimates for the total number of cases statewide.

Since social distancing measures were put in place at the end of March, there has been a reduction in the rise of cases in South Carolina and in Charleston.

“These numbers give us the confidence to be cautiously optimistic moving forward,” said MUSC Infectious Disease Specialist Cassandra Salgado, M.D. “As we start to ease restrictions on what we are permitted to do in the community, social distancing is still going to be important.”

Salgado advises people to continue avoiding crowds of more than 10 people, and to ensure that you keep more than 6 feet of space between yourself and other individuals. You should wear a mask when you are in situations where you can’t social distance properly, like while in the grocery store.

About the Author

Celia Spell, M.S.

Keywords: COVID-19, Infectious Diseases