S.C. reported a record-number of cases Friday | Credit: DHEC data

“If we don’t take actions now, New Year’s Eve celebrations could prove to be devastating, particularly for those who have not been maximally vaccinated.”

The omicron variant pushed South Carolina’s daily COVID-19 case counts to record levels Friday, as state health officials make last-minute appeals for folks to stay home tonight instead of celebrating the new year in public.

MORE: Dec. 31 COVID-19 update: 6,319 new cases, 14 deaths; 25.6% positive

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) officials on Friday reported 6,319 confirmed cases, with an additional 2,563 probable cases. The figures eclipse previous single-day case counts for confirmed cases and combined confirmed and probable cases, DHEC said.

The omicron variant may be highly contagious, sending numbers up, but studies continue to show it is less severe than previous variants. A New York Times report today shows the omicron variant may also do less long-term damage to the body.

“As South Carolina braces for yet another new record-breaking wave of COVID-19 cases, we are urging all South Carolinians to take steps to safely ring in the New Year as we enter the third year affected by this pandemic,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, the agency’s public health director, in a press release.

If you do attend a New Year’s Eve party, officials said everyone should wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.

“If we don’t take actions now, New Year’s Eve celebrations could prove to be devastating, particularly for those who have not been maximally vaccinated,” Traxler said.

Alternative ways to ring in the new year, like virtual toasts or well-spaced outdoor neighborhood countdowns are ways to mark the calendar turn without the added threat of the omicron variant, officials said.

Charleston County is also seeing skyrocketing cases of COVID-19 that mirror increases statewide. DHEC reported 489 confirmed cases countywide Friday, up from 39 confirmed cases as recently as Dec. 19.

Charleston County still has one of the state’s highest vaccination rates, at 57.5% of residents. Some rural counties like Chesterfield and Marlboro have rates around 33% of residents. Statewide, 51.8% of eligible residents are fully vaccinated, according to DHEC.