MUSC COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project

COVID-19 Status Summary for the Charleston metropolitan area (Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester Counties)

View information for the Florence area (Florence, Marion, Darlington, and Williamsburg Counties)

View information for the Lancaster metropolitan area (Lancaster and Chester Counties)

Updated 10/28/2020 | About This Project

MUSC COVID-19 Situation Assessment

Indicator Key Metric Threshold Metrics Status as of October 28th
Growth in Number of Reported COVID-19 Infections Sustained reduction in growth of reported infections for Charleston region. GREEN – The 7-day average in growth of confirmed cases from day to day has been below 1%.
GREEN: 0.3%
YELLOW – The 7-day average in growth of confirmed cases from day to day is 1-5%
RED – The 7-day average in growth of confirmed cases from day to day is greater than 5%.
Sustained reduction in new cases Downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period. GREEN -There is a negative slope of the trend line (downward trajectory) of the daily 7-day average of number of cases for each of the past two-weeks. RED: There is a positive (upward trajectory) for number of cases (daily 7-day average) for each of past 2-weeks.
YELLOW -There is a negative slope of the trend line (downward trajectory) of the daily 7-day average of number of cases for one of the past two weeks (one week positive, one week negative).
RED – There is a positive slope of the trend line (upward trajectory) of the daily 7-day average of number of cases for each of the past two-weeks.
Number of Reported COVID-19 Infections per 10,000 population per week Number of reported cases per week is manageable with regard to medical care and capacity for effective contract tracing GREEN – Number of reported cases per week less than 1 per 10,000 population 
(Population = 775,831: equivalent to 78 or fewer cases a week)
RED: 634 cases reported the last 7 days
(Oct. 20th-26th)
YELLOW – Number of reported cases per week is 1-5 per 10,000 population 
(Population = 775,831: equivalent to 78 to 388 cases a week)
RED – Number of reported cases per week greater than 5 per 10,000 population
(Population = 775,831: equivalent to greater than 388 cases a week)
Availability of Diagnostic Testing Diagnostic testing availability for all people with COVID-19 symptoms GREEN – 100% of those meeting criteria and seeking testing receive testing GREEN
YELLOW – 80%-99% of those meeting criteria and seeking testing receive testing
RED – Less than 80% of those meeting criteria and seeking testing receive testing
Speed of Diagnostic Testing in Returning Results Return of diagnostic test results is done in a timely manner and that allows for rapid contact tracing GREEN – Results returned within average of 2 days from sample collection GREEN
YELLOW – Results returned within average of 3-4 days from sample collection
RED – Results returned within average of 5 or more days from sample collection
Hospital Patient Care Area hospitals have ability to treat all patients requiring hospitalization without resorting to crisis standards GREEN – The number of COVID patients below 50% non-surge hospital and ICU bed capacity GREEN
YELLOW – The number of COVID patients is 50-70% non-surge hospital and ICU bed capacity
RED – The number of COVID patients is above 70% non-surge hospital and ICU bed capacity
Social Distancing Social distancing recommendations at a population level are being followed. (N.B. Baseline is set from pre-COVID timeframe) GREEN – Increased at least 25% from baseline, and 2-week average is stable or continuing to increase YELLOW
YELLOW – 2-week trend reverting to baseline, and 2-week average is more than 25% of baseline
RED – 2-week trend reverting to baseline, and 2-week average is less than 25% of baseline
Identified super spreader events or cluster outbreaks Number of super spreader events or cluster outbreaks of significant magnitude (GT 10 cases in discrete social group or setting) in past 30 days. GREEN – None reported in past 30 days RED (Multiple Nursing Home Outbreaks Reported by DHEC)
YELLOW – 1-2 reported in past 30 days
RED – 3+ reported in past 30 days
Infection & Contact Tracing Ability to trace and monitor reported contacts of new COVID-19 cases in a timely manner. GREEN – S.C. DHEC/State able to conduct contact tracing within 2 calendar days of report More info needed
YELLOW – S.C. DHEC/State able to conduct contact tracing within 3-5 calendar days of report
RED – S.C. DHEC/State able to conduct contact tracing within 6 or more calendar days of report

Key Findings

 

  • GROWTH RATE OF CASES - This week the 7-day average growth rate of new infections at 0.3% (approximately the same as in the prior 5 weeks). This continued low rate of new infections is a positive sign and suggests that use of masks, distancing, and avoiding indoor gatherings is maintaining a low rate of transmission of the COVID-19 virus in the community. There has been a slight increase in the trend of the 7-day average number of daily cases over the past two weeks. In each of the past two weeks the number of cases increased over the week, although the absolute number of cases is fairly low.
  • CASES PER DAY - The surge in COVID-19 in the Charleston area peaked on July 5th when the area experienced 64 diagnosed COVID-19 patients per day for each 100,000 persons. The current average number of daily infections diagnosed, at 12 per day per 100,000 population, is approximately 16% of the peak value. This value in the prior week was also 10 cases per 100,000 per day.
  • NUMBER OF INFECTIONS PER WEEK - There remains a moderate number of infections being diagnosed each week with 634 cases in the past week. In the prior week there were 541 cases diagnosed.
  • NUMBER OF ACTIVE CASES - There are an estimated 1,210 active infections who have been diagnosed by lab testing. This is up from 1,020 in the last weekly report. In addition, CDC estimates that up to 10 times the number of diagnosed cases go undiagnosed, yielding over 13,000 active cases combining diagnosed and undiagnosed.
  • RISK FROM ASYMPTOMATIC CASES - Most undiagnosed infected people will not be aware they carry the virus and can infect others. The risk of infection from people with no symptoms, or mild symptoms, is the greatest single threat to members of the community.
  • PUBLIC HEALTH RECOMMENDATIONS - Concerted action should be taken to encourage the population to take precautions to avoid viral infection and transmission, and aggressive contact tracing should be implemented to contain the epidemic. Social distancing and mask use should be vigorously promoted or mandated. Large gatherings should be discouraged or prohibited. These policies and practices are helping to keep the epidemic in check, and removing them could lead to a rapid rebounding of infections.
  • NEED FOR VIGILANCE IN RISK REDUCTION - The community is advised to develop an evidence-based risk mitigation plan and not deviate from that until there is a vaccine or effective treatment widely available. It is ill-advised to take more risks because of lower rates of COVID-19 in the community. There are a substantial number of infections circulating in the community, and rapid spread can occur before it is detected.
  • EVIDENCE-BASED PREVENTION STRATEGIES - Scientific evidence is strong for the effectiveness of several risk mitigation behaviors: (1) wear a mask when around others, and avoid neck gaiters and vented masks, (2) keep a distance of no-less than 6-feet from others, more is better (3) avoid crowds, (4) wash hands frequently, (5) favor gathering with people outside over inside, and open windows (even a few inches helps) when feasible with others while inside, and (6) wear a mask and crack windows when you must travel with others in a vehicle.
  • RISK FROM AEROSOL TRANSMISSION - There is growing evidence that transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 is occurring via aerosols. Aerosols are very small liquid particles that are breathed out when people speak, and they can float in the air like smoke for hours. Loud talking, singing, and heavy breathing from exercise generate a significant volume of aerosol particles. As a result, indoor gatherings are risky, especially when turnover of the air is infrequent. Aerosol transmission can occur at much greater distances than 6-feet. People should assume that there is no safe distance from others indoors in poorly ventilated rooms.
  • POTENTIAL RISK WITH COLDER WEATHER - There is growing concern that with winter approaching surges in infections may be experienced throughout the United States. Cooler weather provides fewer opportunities to meet with others outside, where it is safer to be around other people. In addition, the upcoming holiday season will likely promote many indoor gatherings. European countries now having cooler weather are seeing dramatic increases in transmission, and lockdowns and limitations are being implemented across the continent. Severe outbreaks are also occurring in areas of the Northern US, where the weather is now getting colder.
  • TESTING CAPACITY - There are currently few delays in getting appointments for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, and results are being returned quickly.
  • HOSPITAL CAPACITY - The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 has declined substantially over the past month at area hospitals which are well capacitated to manage the case load of COVID-19 admissions.


COVID-19 Projections for South Carolina

Modeling from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) shows projections for South Carolina assuming full social distancing through May 2020.

COVID-19 Projections for the MUSC University Hospital

We have developed a mathematical model that estimates the number of symptomatic cases, and number of patients seeking care at MUSC University Hospital over time for the current wave of infections. Results are broken out by standard and ICU beds.

Graph showing the number of symptomatic cases of COVID-19 per week