South Carolina officials reported the state’s first pediatric death from the coronavirus on Saturday, announcing the death of a child under the age of 5.
The state also had a record number of confirmed cases reported, as the outbreak continues to grow.
“Today, we mourn the loss of one of our children to this virus. It is heart-wrenching to lose a child under any circumstances, and especially so during a time when we have all lost so much already,” Dr. Joan Duwve, Director of Public Health at the Department of Health and Environmental Control, said in a statement.
The state added 2,239 confirmed cases to its total count on Saturday, the highest number since the pandemic started, according to the department. South Carolina also saw its highest-yet rate of positive tests Saturday, with over 22% of people tested coming back positive for the virus.
Limited information about the child who died was released in order to protect the family’s privacy, though the statement said the child was from the Midlands region.
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There have been 54,538 total confirmed cases of the coronavirus in South Carolina, though experts say official counts likely only capture a portion of those who’ve been infected. There have been 940 confirmed deaths.
State health officials say that a spike in cases is being driven in part by young adults.
“Since June 1, there has been a 436.5% increase in newly reported COVID-19 cases among the 21-30 age group, representing 22% of total confirmed cases in the state, which is the largest percentage by age group,” a report from the state health department says.
“Our state is in a dire situation, and we will continue to mourn the loss of parents, grandparents, children, friends and neighbors until each and every one of us steps up to do what is right, not just for ourselves, but for others,” said Duwve.
“No one is immune to this deadly disease, but we each have the power to impact the path this pandemic takes in South Carolina.”
Duwve urged South Carolinians to wear a mask and maintain physical distance in order to help “change the course of the pandemic.”
In an effort to stem the spread of the virus, particularly among younger people, Gov. Henry McMaster is shutting off the late-night sale of alcohol at bars and restaurants across the state. McMaster has ordered sales of alcohol end by 11 p.m. beginning Saturday.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
The Greenville News contributed to this report.