As COVID-19 community levels increase across South Carolina and the rest of the nation, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is urging residents to track community level spread in the county where they live/work and follow the prevention steps to take based on the latest data. In addition, residents should remain up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters.
“Part of treating COVID-19 as an endemic virus is recognizing that we need to know the current community level and the steps to take to stay virus-free,” said Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC Director. “We are seeing more medium and high transmission across South Carolina, so we strongly encourage our residents to follow all recommendations, including masking, staying home when sick, and being vaccinated, including boosters when eligible, that will help bring these numbers back down.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updates its COVID-19 Community Level map every Thursday night and provides a snapshot of COVID-19 levels in each county. Residents can visit the interactive map or use the county check tool on DHEC’s community levels page to view levels in their area.
Currently, South Carolina’s red counties, or those with high transmission, are Dillon and Marlboro counties. The state’s yellow counties, or those with medium transmission, are Berkeley, Charleston, Chesterfield, Darlington, Dorchester, Florence, Horry, Lexington, Marion, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter, and Williamsburg counties. Here is the masking guidance for the various county levels:
- For low levels of COVID-19 in a community, masking is “not needed in most settings,” but remains optional for individuals.
- In communities with medium levels of COVID-19, individuals who are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 as well as those who are regularly around immunocompromised individuals are encouraged to mask up, while it is optional for others.
- In communities with high levels of COVID-19, masking is recommended in indoor settings, including schools and workplaces.
In addition to following the masking guidance, residents should follow the vaccination and booster guidance, as well as the quarantine and isolation guidance, outlined on DHEC’s endemic page. The page also has guidance on when to get tested and where to find free, rapid antigen tests.
“We know the summer season brings more vacationing and public events, which creates more opportunities for virus spread,” Simmer added. “So we’re asking everyone to use good judgement and take the necessary precautions to stay well themselves and to protect their family and friends. COVID-19 is still a deadly virus that is claiming lives every week, and we all play a role in keeping ourselves and our fellow South Carolinians safe.”