COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – State health leaders are recommending residents stay home and avoid large groups this 4th of July holiday.
Officials with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control say more individuals who test positive have participated in group gatherings in recent weeks.
Now, DHEC says residents should make safe, responsible plans for celebrating Independence Day which includes precautions for protecting against the spread of COVID-19.
Officials say the number of new positive cases in a day is the highest they’ve ever been, and so is the number of people who are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 complications.
DHEC says a lack of social distancing and mask-wearing is contributing to the state’s surging numbers.
“The virus is rapidly spreading across the state, with some of the largest increases in our coastal communities,” said DHEC Public Health Director, Dr. Joan Duwve. “We’ve all given so much for so long, and we all want to be at our beautiful beaches, at our parks, our friends’ houses, our block parties and community events but I’m asking all of us to stay vigilant in the fight against this deadly virus. While we celebrate our country’s birthday, please help your communities, especially those who are at increased risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death.”
Dr. Duwve went on to say, “If we all pledge to wear our face masks, stay six feet apart, and wash our hands often, together we will reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. That’s how we ‘Stay SC Strong.’”
State health officials say young people are increasingly testing positive for the virus.
South Carolina has seen a 966% increase in newly reported cases among those aged 11 to 20 and 413% increase in those between 21-30.
DHEC supports the many local governments and event organizers who have chosen to cancel group activities in order to protect their communities from the virus.
They also recommend families celebrate the Fourth of July by planning home-based festivities and watch fireworks shows while remaining in their vehicles or tuning into celebrations virtually.
While shopping for groceries and other necessities, residents should wear a mask or cloth face covering, stay six feet away from others and immediately clean their hands with sanitizer or soap and water after arriving home.
If you are ill, DHEC says you should stay home.
“In addition to the disheartening increases in young people transmitting the virus to their family and friends, new data indicate that asymptomatic people can spread the virus more easily than initially thought,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell. “If you’ve tested positive but don’t have symptoms, it’s imperative that you complete your quarantine period in order to not spread the virus to others while you’re contagious.”
Looking for a firework show to watch on the television? News 2 will broadcast the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular from New York beginning at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday.