Photo by Steven Cornfield on Unsplash

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and Gov. Henry McMaster announced that South Carolinians aged 65 and older can schedule vaccine appointments starting on Monday, Feb. 8, regardless of preexisting conditions. This group of individuals has accounted for 81.7% of deaths related to the virus, DHEC reports.

“As we evaluate supply versus demand and as the rate of vaccines coming into the state increases, we believe it is appropriate to begin scheduling appointments for additional South Carolinians,” DHEC acting director Marshall Taylor said in a press release. “To best protect the safety and health of all South Carolinians we must make sure those at highest risk of severe illness and death get vaccinated first.”

There are currently 458 COVID-19 vaccine sites in South Carolina, and those who are eligible can use DHEC’s online tool to find locations that are accepting appointments.

Health officials announced another 1,762 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to 402,361. With 64 new confirmed deaths, 6,663 South Carolinians have died from COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic.

Out of 15,289 tests results, 16.1% were positive. State health officials notified the public on Tuesday that the calculation for percent positive had changed slightly and could cause positivity rate to drop. Attempts during a Wednesday press briefing by City Paper and other S.C. media to clarify the change have been unsuccessful so far.