Results of 24,000 COVID-19 cases reported in SC after error


COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina publicly announced the results of nearly 24,000 COVID-19 tests on Friday, a backlog of nine days of testing that health officials said were caused by glitches as they upgraded an electronic database for results.

There was no delay in getting individual results to people, the Department of Health and Environmental Control said in a statement.

But the delay in full results of testing since Sept. 24 skewed average testing data, which experts and others use to determine how the virus is spreading and the success of preventive measures.


New positive COVID-19 cases earlier this week were under 250 cases — some of the lowest figures since May in a state whose infection rate neared the top of the nation this summer and remains above the national average,

Nearly 1,500 positive and 22,400 negative COVID-19 results were added to the public database Friday, DHEC said.

The agency plans to place the cases back in the dates they were diagnosed so the numbers for the nine days with the errors are correct, officials said.

Health officials were trying to reduce the number of results that have to be entered into the database by hand when a coding problem caused nine days of results to not be entered into the right database, state epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said.

“We’re using systems that simply weren’t designed to handle this volume of data,” Bell said.

South Carolina has reported more than 3,200 deaths from COVID-19.

Also on Friday, Gov. Henry McMaster announced he is immediately allowing restaurants to operate at full capacity. He issued an order in early August cutting capacity in half.

The order still requires employees and diners to wear face masks when not eating or drinking and does not lift a ban on selling alcohol after 11 p.m.

The order also lifts several other requirements that the governor said he still strongly recommends restaurants follow. Those include spacing tables at least 6 feet (2 meters) apart, allowing no more than eight people to sit at a table, removing stations where customers can fill and refill their own drinks and allowing socially distant space where people can wait for tables.

Bell did not say whether she thought the governor was making a good decision. But she did say recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus by wearing masks, staying socially distant and frequently washing hands are just as important as they were months ago

“We continue to remind south Carolinas our disease rates are still high,” Bell said.

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Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP.

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Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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