News Releases

News Releases

“Mask Up” South Carolina; South Carolina Announces Latest COVID-19 Update (July 17, 2020)

July 17, 2020


COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is asking South Carolinians to "Mask Up" as part of a new statewide campaign aimed at encouraging youth and young adults to embrace wearing a face mask in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

In South Carolina, young adults between the ages of 21-30 currently make up 22% percent of all confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, and those ages 11-20 make up 11% of confirmed cases. This data follows national trends that indicate a growing number of young adults and youth are testing positive for COVID-19.

“Most of the virus spreads through the air in drops of moisture when the person contagious with the virus breaths, talks, coughs or sneezes,” said Dr. Michael Kacka, DHEC physician and medical consultant. “Wearing a mask over the nose and mouth collects and traps some of those droplets and reduces the amount of virus someone puts out into the air around them. It doesn’t filter out all of the virus, however, which is why social distancing is very important along with wearing masks. By reducing the amount of virus put out into the air, we reduce the chances that those sharing a space will encounter enough virus to become infected.”

To help stop the spread in the Palmetto State, DHEC has created free, reliable COVID-19 mask content that anyone can share on social media to encourage their friends and followers to wear a face covering in public. Social media posts, graphics, and videos to be shared online can be found at

Daily COVID-19 Update (July 17, 2020)

DHEC today announced 1,964 new confirmed cases and five new probable cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, 25 additional confirmed deaths and one new probable death. There are currently 1,593 hospital beds occupied by patients who have either tested positive or are under investigation for COVID-19, and 214 of those patients are currently on ventilators.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases to 65,857, probable cases to 212, confirmed deaths to 1,078 and 18 probable deaths. 

Confirmed cases: Abbeville (6), Aiken (20), Allendale (12), Anderson (50), Bamberg (7), Barnwell (7), Beaufort (55), Berkeley (117), Calhoun (13), Charleston (305), Cherokee (12), Chester (12), Chesterfield (5), Clarendon (8), Colleton (18), Darlington (21), Dillon (11), Dorchester (105), Edgefield (4), Fairfield (5), Florence (61), Georgetown (21), Greenville (171), Greenwood (56), Hampton (7), Horry (114), Jasper (8), Kershaw (17), Lancaster (19), Laurens (45), Lee (10), Lexington (89), Marion (10), Marlboro (4), McCormick (4), Newberry (8), Oconee (19), Orangeburg (54), Pickens (46), Richland (207), Saluda (15), Spartanburg (84), Sumter (26), Union (3), Williamsburg (7), York (66)

Probable cases: Greenville (2), Richland (1), and Spartanburg (2) 

Twenty-three of the confirmed deaths occurred in elderly individuals from Aiken (1), Anderson (4), Berkeley (1), Dillon (1), Dorchester (2), Georgetown (1), Greenville (1), Greenwood (1), Horry (1), Lexington (1), Pickens (1), Richland (3), Spartanburg (2), Sumter (1), and Williamsburg (1), York (1) counties, and two of the confirmed deaths occurred in middle-aged individuals from Greenville (1) and Kershaw (1) counties.

The one new probable death occurred in an elderly individual from Horry County (1).

Testing in South Carolina
As of yesterday, a total of 606,610 tests have been conducted in the state. See a detailed breakdown of tests in South Carolina on the Data and Projections webpage. DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory is operating extended hours and is testing specimens seven days a week, and the Public Health Laboratory’s current timeframe for providing results to health care providers is 24-48 hours, although a recent increase in testing may lead to a delay of one to two days.

Percent Positive Test Trends among Reported COVID-19 Cases
The total number of individual test results reported to DHEC yesterday statewide was 11,257 (not including antibody tests) and the percent positive was 17.4%.

More than 90 Mobile Testing Clinics Scheduled Statewide
As part of our ongoing efforts to increase testing in underserved and rural communities across the state, DHEC is working with community partners to set up mobile testing clinics that bring testing to these communities. Currently, there are 94 mobile testing events scheduled through August 5 with new testing events added regularly. Find a mobile testing clinic event near you at

Residents can also get tested at one of 180 permanent COVID-19 testing facilities across the state. Visit for more information.

Hospital Bed Occupancy
As of this morning, 3,017 inpatient hospital beds are available and 7,889 are in use, which is a 72.34% statewide hospital bed utilization rate. Of the 7,889 inpatient beds currently used, 1,593 are occupied by patients who have either tested positive or are under investigation for COVID-19.

At the federal government’s request, DHEC is transitioning from the CDC's National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) COVID-19 module to TeleTracking’s U.S. Healthcare COVID-19 Portal for monitoring hospital bed occupancy data.

DHEC issued a Public Health Order supporting the transition from NHSN to TeleTracking on July 15, and DHEC is monitoring hospitals as they actively make the transition in their reporting. Our daily reporting on hospital bed occupancy may vary from how it has been reported as hospitals work to become compliant with the Public Health Order and implement the TeleTracking system. Hospital bed occupancy, ICU occupancy, ventilator usage and other key information continue to be monitored by DHEC during this transition.

How South Carolinians Can Stop the Spread
Evidence is increasing about the high rates of infection in people who do not have symptoms and don’t know they are infectious. This places everyone at risk of getting the virus or unknowingly transmitting it to someone else. Steps we can take to protect ourselves and others include:

  • Practicing social distancing
  • Wearing a mask in public
  • Avoiding group gatherings
  • Regularly washing your hands
  • Staying home if sick

For the latest information related to COVID-19 visit Visit for stress, anxiety and mental health resources from the S.C. Department of Mental Health.

*As new information is provided to the department, some changes in cases may occur. Cases are reported based on the person’s county of residence, as it is provided to the department. DHEC’s COVID-19 map will adjust to reflect any reclassified cases.



COVID-19 Media Relations