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Greenville County was identified as a hot spot for coronavirus, after reporting more new cases than every other county in South Carolina for the past six days. 

A jump in cases across the state is partly attributable to an increase in testing, according to state health officials, but Greenville County leaders have also pointed to poor social distancing as another cause

There were 411 new cases reported in Greenville County between May 31 and June 5.

  • Friday, June 5, 77 cases, 1 death
  • Thursday, June 4: 56 cases, 1 death
  • Wednesday, June 3: 51 cases, 0 deaths
  • Tuesday, June 2: 65 cases, 0 deaths
  • Monday, June 1: 73 cases, 0 deaths
  • Sunday, May 31: 89 cases, 0 deaths

Following the increase in cases, the county was identified as a hot spot for the state, Dr. Brannon Traxler, a DHEC physician consultant from Greenville, said.

Further DHEC analysis revealed about a half dozen instances in the Greenville area where multiple people who were living together tested positive. It’s most likely family members had passed the virus among each other, Traxler said. 

In addition, about 30% of recent cases were among Hispanic people, Traxler said. DHEC has since increased its outreach efforts and testing events in Hispanic communities. 

A mobile clinic is scheduled Saturday at Cherrydale Elementary where there will be bilingual staff. Testing events at the Greenville Convention Center have also been extended for another week, he said. 

Dr. Eric Ossman, chief of preparedness and mobile integrated health care for Prisma Health, told The News earlier this week that the number of patients at Prisma’s Upstate facilities was up from the average in April while he same was not true of Prisma’s Midlands facilities. 

Ossman said if the gains sustained for another week, Greenville and the Upstate could see a second wave

According to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, the highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Greenville County occurred on May 9 with 79 beds being occupied. Statewide, the highest number of hospital beds occupied due to COVID-19 occurred on May 8, with 502 beds occupied. 

Those dates falls between two key reopening dates. Gov. Henry McMaster’s stay-home order was lifted and outdoor dining was allowed on May 4. McMaster allowed indoor dining to resume a week later on May 11.

South Carolina was one of the last states to shut down and one of the first to begin phased reopening.

As of late May, every state in the country is in some phase of reopening, though many are requiring face masks in public places.

South Carolina is not requiring masks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in community settings.

According to masks4all.com, more than a dozen states have some sort of statewide masks in public places requirement — among those New Jersey, New York, Maryland and Connecticut.

Several other states, including North Carolina and Georgia, have masks requirements in part of the state. 

South Carolina is among a handful of states with no mask requirements. 

How many people have been tested?

A total of 238,808 people have been tested in South Carolina as of June 4. Of those, 13,005 tests have returned positive results for COVID-19.

And among those 13,005 cases, 525 have resulted in death, making the death rate about 4% across the state. 

What makes SC different from other states to not require masks? 

McMaster said South Carolina hasn’t needed to require masks in public spaces and buildings, as some other states have done during the pandemic.

“We’re doing better than most states are doing, as you can see by the business activity and the rate of infection,” McMaster said. “We took a very careful, deliberate approach to restrict business and activities as well as only to those with close contacts like barber shops, beauty parlors, things like that.”

He said South Carolina took a different approach than other states.

“That’s why I think we’ll recover a lot quicker. Hotel occupancy and some other things are much better than the national average, which is an indication of people having confidence of the way we did things in South Carolina.”

How many COVID-19 patients are in Bon Secours facilities? 

Bon Secours will not reveal specific numbers of its COVID-19 patients “due to the fluidity of the situation and per privacy laws,” Jennifer Robinson, Bon Secours public relations and communications manager, said in an email Friday afternoon. 

Has Bon Secours seen a spike in patients in the past couple weeks? 

Bon Secours has seen similar trends that are reflected in statewide health data, Robinson said, and COVID-19 cases are trending upward at Bon Secours facilities.

“We are monitoring those numbers closely and are prepared to adjust as needed,” Robinson said. “In the meantime, we continue to follow the guidance provided by the CDC & DHEC to minimize exposure and ensure our hospital remains a safe place to work and receive care.” 

View map: A look at COVID-19 cases by county and zip code

Unanswered questions we’re asking:

  • How many total COVID-19 patients have been treated in Prisma Health facilities in Greenville County?
  • How many current COVID-19 patients are being treated in Prisma Health facilities in Greenville County?
  • Has Prisma Health seen a spike in COVID-19 patients in the past couple weeks?

Greenville News reporters Kirk Brown, Daniel Gross and Haley Walters contributed to this report. 

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