The SC Department of Health and Environmental Control updated its COVID-19 guidelines for child care centers and K-12 schools on Feb. 13 amid a fall in cases across the state.
The updated Child Care Center Guide states that children who are close contacts can avoid quarantine if they have no symptoms and be tested twice: once on day three and again between days five to seven.
Children are also strongly encouraged to wear a mask for 10 days if they are 2 years and older, while staff in childcare settings must follow the same Test to Stay protocol for K-12 schools, which includes no symptoms and tests at least once a year. day five to seven and masking for 10 days.
Changes to the K-12 School Guide indicate that students, when using the Test To Stay program, can remove their mask as needed to participate in a recreational activity or sport after testing negative on day five or later. They must continue to mask at all other times in school throughout the 10-day period.
DHEC no longer strongly recommends universal masking requirements in schools, but the agency strongly encourages individuals to mask.
“We are consistent in our position that recommendations should reflect recent COVID-19 trends and data,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Director of Public Health. “We are pleased to see that cases have declined in recent weeks and we are updating our guidance to reflect that trend, while maintaining our focus on keeping children safe in school.”
The agency also reported over 1,500 new COVID-19 cases on February 14 and no deaths related to the virus.
Data related to COVID-19 cases and deaths in South Carolina was delayed Feb. 11 due to “problems receiving data charts in our system,” DHEC explained. These figures were included in information released on 14 February
New cases reported: 2,602 confirmed, 1,181 probable (Friday); 2,061 confirmed, 1,163 probable (Saturday); 1,647 confirmed, 731 probable (Sunday); and 1,188 confirmed, 405 probable (Monday).
Total number of cases in SC: 1,130,548 confirmed, 311,998 probable.
New deaths reported: 51 confirmed, 28 probable (Friday); five confirmed, 11 probable (Saturday); 15 confirmed, two probable (Sunday); and zero confirmed, zero likely (Monday).
Total deaths in SC: 13,852 confirmed, 2,389 probable.
Percentage of ICU beds filled (with COVID-19 and other patients): 74.09 percent.
Positive percentage: 9.1
SC residents vaccinated
In South Carolina, 62.4 percent of those eligible for the vaccine have received at least one dose, and 53.5 percent of eligible residents have completed their vaccinations.
This figure reflects all eligible South Carolina residents, including young children. The latest data from DHEC shows that 17.9 percent of children aged 5-11 have at least one vaccine dose.
Hardest hit areas
Lexington (129), Greenville (125) and York (118) counties experienced the highest total number of new cases.
What about tri-county?
Charleston County had 82 new cases, while Dorchester had 40 and Berkeley had 39.
DHEC releases county-level data on COVID-19 deaths and the age of those who died of the virus on Tuesday. According to the latest data from February 8, at least 429 people in South Carolina died of the virus January 30 – February 5. Greenville County recorded 64 COVID deaths that week.
Of the 1,473 COVID-19 patients admitted on February 14, 287 were in the intensive care unit and 158 used ventilators.
What do experts say?
Officials from the state health agency strongly urge vaccinations for 5 years and up, booster shots for eligible populations and the use of masks to protect others from the spread of the virus.
“We must continue to increase our vaccinations, mask when appropriate, and follow other protocols if we want to see this trend continue and ultimately end this pandemic,” Traxler said in a recent press release.
Go to https://vaxlocator.dhec.sc.gov to find a clinic near you.
Follow Zharia Jeffries on Twitter @Zharia_Jeffries