SOUTH CAROLINA (WJBF) – As the Palmetto State and the rest of the nation experience an uptick in COVID-19 cases, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) encourages residents to track levels of COVID-19 in their counties using the map provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and follow the masking recommendations for high and medium community levels. Currently, all but 2 of South Carolina’s 46 counties (Aiken and Barnwell) are experiencing high or medium levels of COVID-19.

“We are seeing significant increases in COVID-19 cases across our state, and we know there are a lot more cases that aren’t being reported due to the use of nonreportable home tests,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Public Health Director. “Masking remains one of the best ways to limit virus spread and the CDC has a great resource to help determine when to mask in public.”

The CDC’s Community Levels Map is updated every Thursday. It currently shows 21 red counties in South Carolina, meaning those with high transmission, and 23 yellow counties, or those with medium transmission.

The red counties are: Cherokee, Chester, Chesterfield, Colleton, Dorchester, Fairfield, Georgetown, Greenville, Horry, Kershaw, Laurens, Lee, Lexington, Marlboro, Newberry, Pickens, Richland, Spartanburg, Sumter, Union, and Williamsburg.

The yellow counties are: Abbeville, Allendale, Anderson, Bamberg, Beaufort, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Clarendon, Darlington, Dillon, Edgefield, Florence, Greenwood, Hampton, Jasper, Lancaster, Marion, McCormick, Oconee, Orangeburg, Saluda, and York.

Residents can visit the interactive map or use the county check tool on DHEC’s community levels page to view levels in their area. The recommendations based on county levels are:

  • Low levels: masking is “not needed in most settings,” but remains optional for individuals.
  • Medium levels: individuals who are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 as well as those who are regularly around immunocompromised individuals are encouraged to mask up, while it is optional for others.
  • High levels: masking is recommended for everyone in indoor settings, including schools and workplaces.

COVID-19 cases have been on the rise the last several weeks. For the week ending on Oct. 29, DHEC reported 3,459 cases. Numbers have risen almost every week since then, including the most recent week ending on Dec. 31 totaling 10,481 cases.

“Fortunately, we have not seen a significant uptick in severe cases, meaning those that end in hospitalizations and deaths,” Traxler said. “We want that trend to continue and masking when recommended is an effective to keep each other out of the hospital and eventually bring case numbers down.”

In addition to masking, staying up to date on vaccinations and boosters, as well as testing when recommended, are important steps in preventing COVID-19 spread. For more information, visit DHEC’s main COVID-19 page.