1st child dies in South Carolina from virus infection


South Carolina officials reported the state's first pediatric death from the coronavirus on Saturday, announcing the death of a child under the age of 5.

The state also had a record number of confirmed cases reported as South Carolina continues to be one of the spots for the highest rate of new infections in the world.

"Today, we mourn the loss of one of our children to this virus. It is heart-wrenching to lose a child under any circumstances, and especially so during a time when we have all lost so much already," Dr. Joan Duwve, director of public health at the Department of Health and Environmental Control, said in a statement.

The state added 2,239 confirmed cases to its total count on Saturday, the highest number since the pandemic started, according to the department. South Carolina also saw its highest-yet rate of positive tests Saturday, with more than 22% of people tested being positive for the virus. That record was broken on Sunday when the percent positive was 22.3%.

Limited information about the child who died was released to protect the family's privacy, though the statement said the child was from the Midlands region.

State health officials say that a spike in cases is being driven in part by young adults.

"Since June 1, there has been a 436.5% increase in newly reported COVID-19 cases among the 21-30 age group, representing 22% of total confirmed cases in the state, which is the largest percentage by age group," a report from the state health department says.

In an effort to stem the spread of the virus, particularly among younger people, Gov. Henry McMaster is shutting off the late-night sale of alcohol at bars and restaurants across the state. McMaster ordered sales of alcohol to end by 11 p.m. beginning last Saturday.

State's 1st MIS-C cases diagnosed in 2 kids

On Sunday, the state reported the first cases of Multi Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19.

Two children are the first in the state with a confirmed diagnosis of MIS-C, a rare health condition recently recognized to occur in some children and teenagers who have contracted COVID-19 or been in contact with someone infected with the virus. One child is from the Midlands region, and one is from the PeeDee region. Both are under the age of 10.

The first reports of this syndrome came from the United Kingdom in late April. Cases in the United States were first reported in New York City in early May.

MIS-C is a rare post-viral condition that has similarities in symptoms to Kawasaki syndrome, which is also seen in young children and infants, including persistent fever, rash, red eyes and tongue, swelling of the hands and feet and inflamed mouth, lips and throat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. Robin LaCroix, medical director the Children's Hospital at Prisma Health Upstate - Tuomey Hospital in Sumter is in the Prisma health system - and a pediatric infectious disease specialist.

LaCroix said MIS-C is "still an infrequent" complication from COVID-19, but if parents notice the symptoms they should seek medical attention to prevent delays in treatment.

"We as parents need to protect our children," she said.

Charleston-based hospital once again halts elective procedures

A hospital system in South Carolina is suspending elective surgeries because of increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients that officials say are straining staff and other resources.

Effective today, officials with Roper St. Francis in Charleston said that procedures that aren't time sensitive would be put on hold across its four facilities to free up staff for an "unrelenting flood" of patients needing treatment for COVID-19.

In all, 131 patients who had become ill after contracting the coronavirus were being treated at the hospital's facilities, representing more than a third of all of Roper's inpatient care.

Emergency surgeries will still be performed as needed, hospital officials said.

Earlier this year, Gov. Henry McMaster asked that elective surgeries be called off across the state for several weeks in an effort to keep hospital resources available for pandemic response if needed. Those procedures were allowed to begin anew this spring, but McMaster has said he could move to shut them down again statewide if needed.

The decision comes amid a resurgence of confirmed cases across South Carolina, where state officials said there had been 58,003 total confirmed cases of the coronavirus in South Carolina as of Monday afternoon. Experts say official counts likely only capture a portion of those who have been infected.

At least 961 people in South Carolina who contracted the virus have died.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.

As of Monday, there were 1,488 hospital beds in use by patients who have either tested positive or are suspected to have COVID-19, according to South Carolina's public health department, and 205 of those patients were on ventilators.

Last week, officials with the state hospital association said hospitals would likely have to implement a medical surge plan to add 3,000 more patient beds in places like hotels and gymnasiums, if South Carolina's coronavirus infection and hospitalization numbers continue rising at their current rates.

In an effort to make testing more available in the coastal area he represents, Lowcountry state Sen. Tom Davis wrote to state officials on Monday, asking that resources from two military installations in Beaufort County "be deployed to assist state and local officials with drive-thru testing."

Also Monday, the Palmetto State Teachers Association wrote to McMaster, asking that recommendations on how schools should approach a return to in-person instruction be clearly communicated to districts and that state lawmakers "fully fund that which is required to keep everyone safe so that we might deliver an invigorating pedagogy in a stable environment."