McMaster | Photo via S.C. Governor's Office

What you need to know this week: New COVID-19 case numbers are continuing to soar, reaching five-month highs in daily infections as the delta variant drives transmission.

Case numbers for the first week of August represent an increase of more than 10-fold compared to the same time in July. And while case numbers climb, schools are gearing up for a return to in-person classes without mask mandates, low vaccination rates and the removal of plexiglass barriers in classrooms.

In an interview with Fox News that aired Sunday, Gov. Henry McMaster doubled down on his stance for restricting mask mandates, saying kids “can’t learn” while wearing face masks in school and health officials have exaggerated the seriousness of the pandemic.

Latest COVID-19 data

South Carolina health officials reported 16,400 total cases, with 11,991 confirmed, of the coronavirus between July 31 and Aug. 6. A total of 46 new deaths, with 38 confirmed, were reported this week. The percent positive, as of Friday, was 16.3%.

Percentage of S.C. residents with at least 1 vaccine: 52.1%
Percentage of S.C. residents who have completed vaccination: 45.0%