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COLUMBIA, SC (FOX Carolina) — DHEC has a safety message for South Carolinians as the Fourth of July weekend approaches in the midst of a pandemic.

DHEC recommends families celebrate the Fourth of July by planning home-based festivities and watching fireworks shows while remaining in their vehicles, or tuning into celebrations virtually.

DHEC said there has a growing number of South Carolina’s positive COVID-19 cases are individuals who participated in group gatherings without keeping a safe distance from others or wearing masks.

The number of new positive cases in a day are the highest they’ve ever been, as is the number of people currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 complications in the state.

DHEC said a lack of social distancing and mask-wearing is contributing to the state’s escalating numbers.

“The virus is rapidly spreading across the state, with some of the largest increases in our coastal communities,” said Dr. Joan Duwve, DHEC Public Health Director in a news release. “We’ve all given so much for so long, and we all want to be at our beautiful beaches, at our parks, our friends’ houses, our block parties and community events but I’m asking all of us to stay vigilant in the fight against this deadly virus. While we celebrate our country’s birthday, please help your communities, especially those who are at increased risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death. If we all pledge to wear our face masks, stay six feet apart, and wash our hands often, together we will reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. That’s how we 'Stay SC Strong.’” 

DHEC said the virus is also becoming more prevalent in younger people. South Carolina has seen a 966 percent increase in newly reported cases among those aged 11 to 20 and 413 percent increase in those between 21-30.

“In addition to the disheartening  increases in young people transmitting the virus to their family and friends, new data indicate that asymptomatic people can spread the virus more easily than initially thought,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist, in a news release. “If you’ve tested positive but don’t have symptoms, it’s imperative that you complete your quarantine period in order to not spread the virus to others while you’re contagious.”

DHEC is still urging people to avoid crowds and large social gatherings when possible. DHEC also urges people to wear face masks while shopping for groceries and other necessities, to stay six feet away from others, and to immediately clean their hands with sanitizer or soap and water after arriving home. 

MORE NEWS - DHEC: More than 15% of latest tests came back positive for COVID-19; State sees 1,320 new cases and 4 new deaths

Copyright 2020 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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