COLUMBIA, S.C. — In July, South Carolina was ranked the third worst place in the world for coronavirus transmission. But as of October 6, health officials say the state now has the lowest COVID-19 transmission rate in the country.
The COVID-19 transmission rate shows how quickly the virus is spreading among people. “It really tells us how many individuals might be affected by a positive case, and that’s really important to know as we think about how to control spread in the community,” said Dr. Lee Pearson, an Associate Dean for the USC Arnold School of Public Health.
Health experts measure the transmission rate through contact tracing. If one positive case infects multiple people, the rate will be higher than if one positive case infects one other individual.
South Carolina’s rating on Wednesday was 0.81.
“Anything below 1.0 is considered a good number,” Dr. Pearson explained. “When we see a full-fledged outbreak, we’re looking at a reproduction rate at 1.4 or above. So, for South Carolina to be below 1.0 is good news.”
For more information on transmission rates per state and how they’re calculated, click here.
Dr. Pearson attributes South Carolina’s low rating partially to safety measures like mask mandates and social distancing. He advised that people need to stay vigilant with these protocols.
“We can’t let our foot off the gas,” Pearson said, “because we are seeing increased numbers of cases in more than 30 states at this point and increased hospitalizations in the same amount of states.”
Although the low transmission rate is good news for South Carolina, Pearson warned to keep following safety measures to avoid a second possible outbreak.