| Credit: Andy Brack

Leaders, experts urge Americans to cancel New Year’s plans

National and state leaders and public health experts are urging communities to cancel their New Year’s Eve plans and stay home for the holiday for the second year in a row as new cases of the coronavirus climb at record-setting paces.

The warnings serve as a reminder that the pandemic is far from over, some say, especially with the omicron variant spurring a now-familiar pattern of cautions, cancellations and restrictions just as many were beginning to hope for a return to normalcy.

The message also comes as the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated quarantine and isolation recommendations, shortening the isolation period to five days from 10, prompting reactions from local and national leaders who say the decision may be based more on economics than public safety.

Also over the holiday, local testing sites saw long lines as community members lined up ahead of the return to the work week. Lines wrapped around parking lots at DHEC testing sites at the North Charleston Coliseum and at the Seacoast Church site in Mount Pleasant. To help with the surge in demand for at-home test kits, CVS is limiting purchases to six per customer, while Walgreens is limiting purchases of the kits to four.

Latest COVID-19 data

South Carolina health officials reported 3,391 total cases of COVID-19 Dec. 29, with 1,950 confirmed. A total of 7 new deaths, with 5 confirmed, were also reported.

Over the holiday, DHEC confirmed 8,744 new cases of the coronavirus, with 1,516 confirmed Friday, 2,120 confirmed Saturday, 2,094 confirmed Sunday, 1,885 confirmed Monday and 1,129 confirmed Tuesday. A total of 53 deaths were confirmed over the break as well, with 10 confirmed Friday, 29 confirmed Saturday, 13 confirmed Sunday, none confirmed Monday and one confirmed Tuesday.

With 11,252 tests reported Wednesday, 23.8% were confirmed positive.

Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ with at least one vaccine: 64.9%
Percentage of of S.C. residents age 12+ who have completed vaccination: 56.1%
Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 with at least one vaccine: 11.8%
Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 who have completed vaccination: 6.9%