MUSC COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project Lancaster

COVID-19 Status Summary for the Lancaster metropolitan area (Lancaster and Chester Counties)

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

View information for the Charleston metropolitan area (Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester Counties)

Updated 2/26/2021 | About This Project

Click here for a description of the Methods and Metrics:

MUSC COVID-19 Situation Assessment 

Click here for a description of the Methods and Metrics:

Metric Status as of February 24th
Weekly Change of Reported COVID-19 Infections
RED: +10%

Trajectory of documented cases (Increasing or Decreasing)

 Number of Reported COVID-19 cases in last week
RED: 588 cases reported week of
(Feb. 16th – Feb. 22nd) 

Diagnostic Availability Testing
Return of Diagnostic Test Results
Hospital Capacity to treat Critical Patients
Super spreader events and congregant facility outbreaks

Key Findings:

*Key Findings are based on results from Wednesday, February 17th- Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021.

COVID-19 case rates have stabilized at a high level over the past several weeks in the area. However, it is important to continue to practice preventative behaviors such as mask use and distancing. Following past surges adherence to prevention practices has declined, only to be followed by new surges. In addition, there are other reasons to remain cautious: (1) new genetic variants of the COVID-19 virus that are much easier to transmit have been found in South Carolina, and the frequency of these variants is increasing; (2) the percentage of people receiving vaccinations is still low, and: (3) the current number of people with active infection is quite high.
The number of COVID-19 patients is putting some stress on the hospital systems in the area. During the past week staffed ICU beds in area hospitals were 100% occupied on some days.
This week the 7-day average of new infections increased 6% since the prior week. The overall level of new infections each week is still very high. It is critically important to maintain sustained vigilance in practicing behavioral prevention such as wearing masks, keeping a distance from others, avoiding indoor gatherings, and good hand hygiene. The risk is high for the potential to catch COVID-19 in the current environment.
The Lancaster/Chester area continues to be experiencing large daily number of cases per 100,000 population since the inception of the COVID-19 epidemic. The current number of infections diagnosed each day for every 100,000 people (7-day rolling average) is 69.6. One week ago, this value was 65.6 (a 5.7% increase).
There remains a significant number of infections being diagnosed this week with 588 cases in the past week. In the prior week there were 597 cases diagnosed (a slight decrease).
There are an estimated 1,101 active infections diagnosed by lab testing. These people can infect other people. This is down from 1,146 in the last weekly report (a slight decrease). It is estimated that approximately 4 times the number of diagnosed cases go undiagnosed, yielding over 5,500 active cases in our area combining diagnosed and undiagnosed.
Most undiagnosed people who are infected will not be aware they carry the virus and can infect others. The time between becoming infected and having symptoms averages 5-days, and this is a period when a person is typically highly infectious. The risk of infection from people with no symptoms, or mild symptoms, is the greatest single threat to members of the community. Do not assume that a lack of symptoms in people you encounter means that they cannot transmit the COVID-19 virus to you.
Across large areas of the United States there was a significant surge in COVID-19 cases over and after the winter holiday period, and this has subsided in most areas. These simultaneous outbreaks caused shortages of hospital beds, protective equipment, and especially medical staff in affected areas. The number of deaths from COVID-19 is now slowly decreasing. However, the number of daily infections is still quite high in the US, and the risk of new surges is possible. Moreover, there are numerous variants of the virus that have been detected throughout the US, and many of these are known to be more easily transmitted than the initial version of the virus. This is raising serious concerns over new surges in infections in the coming months.  
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 vaccines being approved, or because of lower rates of COVID-19 in the community or your immediate social network. Vaccines that are being approved may not be widely available for many months. There are a substantial number of infectious people in the community and rapid spread can occur before it is detected.
After vaccination it is important to continue to practice prevention practices. There are two well-known features of the vaccines for COVID-19: (1) they are not instantaneously effective and (2) one dose does not provide protection sufficient to allow immunized individuals to consider themselves immune from COVID, even after two weeks have elapsed. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 after getting immunized, it is still very possible that you acquired COVID-19, and you should self-isolate and immediately seek tested. If you have had your first vaccine dose, make sure to get your second one scheduled. Going forward it is also important to continue wear a mask and avoid inside contact with others. Scientists are still assessing if those vaccinated can get a mild infection and transmit the virus to others. It is likely that in the months ahead information on this will be determined. In the meantime, continue to practice the standard prevention behaviors.
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.
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. Multiple high-quality studies have identified indoor visits to restaurants and bars as one of the most common modes of infection.
There is growing concern that with winter weather there will be surges in SARS CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) infections experienced throughout the United States. In locations in the US and Europe now having cooler weather there have been dramatic increases in transmission.  
There are currently few delays in getting appointments for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, and results are being returned quickly. An exception is prior to holidays. If you plan to be tested prior to holidays be aware that delays in getting appointments and return of results may occur.  

COVID-19 Projections for South Carolina

Modeling from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) shows projections for South Carolina.

COVID-19 Projections for the MUSC Lancaster Medical Center

We are in the process of developing a hospital impact model, that will provide analysis of patients seeking care at MUSC Lancaster Medical Center over time for the current stage of the pandemic. Results will be updated as soon as they are available.