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SC COVID cases drop, but September is second-deadliest month

The data shows there were 1,791 new total COVID cases, the lowest number since late July.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina dipped below 2,000 daily new COVID cases for the first time in since July, but the state is still in the midst of the second-worst month of the pandemic for deaths. 

The state's health agency, SCDHEC, released its latest COVID data Tuesday. 

The data shows there were 1,791 new total COVID cases based on numbers tallied for Sunday, September 26. While Sundays are typically the lowest numbers of the week, due to not as many people getting tested, the number is still noteworthy: it's the first time since July 30 the state's fallen under 2,000 total cases. 

Week earlier, the Delta variant began to surge in the state, pushing up the total number of infections to levels not seen since the winter. By late August and early September, the state saw multiple days were the caseload exceeded 5,000 and even 6,000 cases. 

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But in recent weeks those numbers have started to shift back downward. Still, they remain well above where they were in May and June, when it appeared the virus had stalled out in the state. 

While there are signs that the cases are trending in the right direction, the number of deaths in the state continues to be at a level not seen since the peak of the winter surge. Based on an analysis of numbers released by DHEC, the state has recorded 1,275 COVID-related deaths in September so far. That number is only exceeded by the 2,120 seen in January. 

The state had been seen a major decline in mortality prior to the recent rise. In June, the state saw 96 COVID deaths, the lowest number since March of 2020, the first month of the crisis. In July, it rose only slightly to 112. But in August, it shot back up to 1,005 fatalities. 

Credit: SCDHEC
A trend graphic showing the deaths by months since the pandemic began in 2021.

Hospitalizations have dropped a little, but still remain at levels at or near records, particularly for ICU patients. There were 530 patients statewide in ICU, down from a high of 610 earlier this month. But the highest level seen during the previous peak, back in January, was 485. 

State health officials continue to stress that the only way out of the pandemic is through the vaccine. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is also encouraging all South Carolinians who can to get the shot. 

Vaccinations are available for ages 12 and up. Visit DHEC COVID-19 webpage for more information, the locator page to find a nearby place to get vaccinated, or call our Vaccine Information Line at 1-866-365-8110.