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2 COVID-19 deaths reported in Laurens County

Five new positive cases and two deaths attributed to COVID-19 were reported in Laurens County Tuesday by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The two deaths, which occurred on Saturday, were among 30 across the state and both were identified as elderly or age 65 and older. Fifty-six people in Laurens County have died from the novel coronavirus. DHEC reported 1,616 total cases in the county, an increase of 57 from last week.

Laurens County School District 56 also reported two confirmed cases among students attending classroom instruction – one at M.S. Bailey Elementary and the other at Clinton High School. Laurens Academy also reported a positive test and temporarily ceased varsity volleyball activities.

According to DHEC, 140,789 cases have been confirmed statewide with 3,243 deaths. On Tuesday, 729 new cases were reported across the state.

That number did not include 15,000 negative and positive tests that came from Augusta University Healthcare in Georgia that were taken between March 18-Sept 17. Those tests included approximately 2,000 positive cases and 13,000 negative cases and were added to the statewide statistics Tuesday.

“Different states have different reporting requirements and mechanisms in place for how laboratories report test results, which has resulted in delayed test results being reported not just in South Carolina but across the country,” said Dr. Michael Kacka, DHEC physician and chief medical officer. “Many states’ public health agencies are working through these issues. The overwhelming majority of private laboratories are quickly reporting negative and positive test results to DHEC, however, we’re aware of out-of-state labs who may not know about South Carolina’s COVID-19 reporting requirements. We are continuing our outreach to private labs that perform testing of South Carolina residents’ specimens to ensure the information is relayed to us not just by health care providers but also directly from the labs performing the tests.”

DHEC also announced Monday a third round of data analysis that shows that counties and municipalities with mask ordinances have seen a slower rate of infection than those without them.

According to the agency, areas with mask ordinances see a 66.5% greater decrease after the first week, 39.2% after the second week, 6.1% after the third week and 3.5% after the fourth week.

“This updated data analysis continues to show that jurisdictions with a mask ordinance remain effective in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 when compared to those jurisdictions without an ordinance in place,” said Kacka. “The data reinforces what we’ve already known: the proper wearing of masks helps stop the spread of this deadly virus.”

Free testing is scheduled by DHEC and Carolina Health Centers today (Sept. 23) from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. or until tests are depleted at Joanna First Baptist Church. The church is located at 301 Magnolia Street in Joanna.

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