Coronavirus updates for May 24: Here’s what to know in South Carolina this week

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Casey Toth/

More than 7,000 COVID cases last week

At least 1.4 million coronavirus cases have been reported in South Carolina, and at least 17,905 people have died of the virus since March 2020, according to state health officials.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control on Tuesday, May 24, reported 7,044 new COVID-19 cases and three coronavirus-related deaths for the week ending May 21. The counts include probable and confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths.

Data shows COVID-19 cases are up nearly 24% compared to this time last week, and hospitalizations are up 52%. As of May 22, 209 people in the state were hospitalized with COVID-19, including 26 patients being treated in intensive care units and eight patients on ventilators.

The omicron variant accounted for 100% of coronavirus strains identified in South Carolina during the week of May 14, according to the latest available state data. The DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory conducts sequencing on randomly chosen samples as part of nationwide efforts to identify new strains of the virus, the agency’s website reads.

Nearly 55% percent of South Carolinians eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and over 63% have received at least one dose, state health data shows.

Most long COVID sufferers were never hospitalized, study shows

Long COVID, a condition marked by symptoms that linger long after an initial COVID-19 infection, isn’t exclusive to patients who had a severe bout with the virus, McClatchy News reported.

A recent study published May 18 shows that over three-quarters, or roughly 75%, of those diagnosed with long COVID were never hospitalized with the illness, according to the newspaper.

For the report — which was published as a white paper — researchers analyzed the medical claims data of 78,252 patients diagnosed with long COVID between Oct. 1, 2021, and Jan. 31, 2022, McClatchy News reported, citing the nonprofit FAIR Health. They found that breathing issues, cough and malaise were the most common symptoms across all age groups and that people aged 36 to 50 were the most likely to receive a long COVID diagnosis.

The paper has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Don’t trash your COVID-19 masks, researchers say. Here’s why

Your COVID-19 face mask could have another purpose once you’re done with it, according to Washington State University researchers.

Instead of landing in a trash bin, face mask materials can be mixed with cement to make concrete more durable, researchers wrote in a paper published last month in the journal Materials Letters, McClatchy News reported.

They found that cement blended with mask materials was roughly 47% stronger after curing for 28 days compared to regular cement, according to the report. The results indicate that face masks, which can pose an environmental risk when not disposed of properly, can be “upcycled” to mitigate waste.

“These waste masks actually could be a valuable commodity if you process them properly,” Xianming Shi, a professor at Washington State University and the corresponding author on the paper, said in an April 27 news release. “I’m always looking out for waste streams, and my first reaction is ‘how do I turn that into something usable in concrete or asphalt?’”

Get tested for COVID days ahead of summer travel plans, CDC says

If you plan on traveling this summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting tested for COVID-19 in the days before your trip, McClatchy News reported.

The updated guidance applies for all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, the agency said.

“Consider getting tested as close to the time of departure as possible (no more than 3 days) before your trip” when heading to any destination, according to the CDC’s website. The agency also recommends wearing a face mask on public transportation, though it is no longer required.

For more information, read the full story here.

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