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SC sets new daily record of 687 coronavirus cases

State health agency leaders saying wearing a mask and social distancing can help stop the spread.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina set a new daily record for coronavirus cases Thursday, as state health official continue to urge the public to take seriously health requirements for masking and social distancing to prevent the spread of the disease.

At a board meeting Thursday, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced there were 687 new cases. The previous record had been 542, set just three days ago on June 8.

The total number of confirmed cases stands at 16,441 since the pandemic began. There were 13 new deaths reported Thursday, bringing the total number of deaths due to the pandemic to 588.

But since late last month, there has been a noticeable uptick in confirmed cases of COVID-19. May 30 was the first time the number of daily reported cases topped 400 since the virus began; since then, it's topped that number 5 times, including 3 times of more than 500 cases. 

RELATED: 'I am more concerned about COVID-19 in South Carolina than I have ever been before,' expert says

RELATED: Lexington County named a coronavirus hot spot in South Carolina

DHEC says about 40 percent of all diagnosed cases have been within the last three weeks. 

Increased testing is to blame for some of the change, but health officials point to the "percent positive" (the number of people tested who test positive) rising as a cause for concern. That rate has been above 12 percent, said. Dr. Joan Duwve, DHEC's Director for Public Health.

“We are finding a larger number of South Carolinians who have contracted this illness," Duwve said. "This means that more people than we’d hoped for are testing positive.”

At a news conference with the governor Wednesday, Dr. Linda Bell, the state epidemiologist, said, "today I am more concerned about COVID-19 in South Carolina than I have ever been before." 

WEARING MASKS, SOCIAL DISTANCING:

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

NEW CASES: 

Ten of the 13 deaths occurred in elderly individuals from Greenville (2), Florence (1), Spartanburg (3), Fairfield (1), Colleton (2), and Greenwood (1) counties, and three in middle-aged individuals from Lexington (1), and Spartanburg (2) counties.

The number of new cases by county are listed below.

Aiken (6), Abbeville (39), Anderson (7), Bamberg (3), Beaufort (24), Berkeley (20), Calhoun (1), Charleston (45), Chester (3), Chesterfield (7), Cherokee (1), Clarendon (9), Colleton (6), Darlington (8), Dillon (2), Dorchester (10), Edgefield (1), Fairfield (3), Florence (22), Georgetown (15), Greenville (125), Greenwood (36), Hampton (5), Horry (47), Jasper (2), Kershaw (8), Lancaster (10), Laurens (9), Lexington (52), Marion (4), Marlboro (5), Newberry (1), Oconee (6), Orangeburg (13), Pickens (14), Richland (69), Saluda (2), Spartanburg (9), Sumter (45), Williamsburg (8), York (21)

TESTING: 

DHEC said it met its goal of testing 110,000 South Carolinians (2% of the population) during the month of May 

DHEC is working with community partners to set up mobile testing clinics that bring testing to these communities. Currently, there are 90 mobile testing events scheduled through July 2 with new testing events added regularly. Find a mobile testing clinic event near you at scdhec.gov/covid19mobileclinics.