COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — This time last year, most of us had never heard of COVID-19 but the infectious disease could be one of the leading causes of death in the Palmetto State in 2020.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported the first COVID-19 death in South Carolina back in March. Nine months later, they are reporting more than 5,000 deaths due to complications from the virus.
Monday, state health officials are reporting 4782 confirmed and 391 probable COVID-19 deaths. According to DHEC’s 2019 state Vital and Morbidity Statistics released in November, heart disease, cancer and accidents were the three top leading causes of death in the state last year.
Assistant State Epidemiologist Dr. Jane Kelly said, “In South Carolina over the past couple of weeks, COVID-19 has been the number one cause of death outstripping heart disease, cancer.”
Data shows COVID-19 could be the third leading cause of death in 2020. State health officials said receiving vaccines approved for emergency use will be a big help in the fight to slow the numbers.
Dr Kelly said, “If we would have waited six months before this vaccine became available – think about the thousands of people who could have died.”
According to DHEC – 78% of all COVID-19 reported deaths in South Carolina had at least one underlying health condition like heart disease or diabetes.