No details released on elderly victim

By Jason Evans

Staff Reporter

PICKENS — Pickens County’s first COVID-19-related death happened on April 17, according to officials.

“We didn’t know it because the person that was involved apparently wasn’t admitted or being treated for COVID-19,” acting county administrator Ken Roper said Monday morning during a Facebook Live video update. “It was discovered after the person passed that COVID-19 was a contributing factor.”

The victim was an elderly person, he said.

“We don’t know any more details that that,” Roper said. “Out of respect for the family, we’re not going to speculate anything beyond that. That’s the data that was given to us by DHEC.

“That is something that has happened in our community now,” he continued. “Hopefully that will be the only one. If it’s not, certainly we will be prepared for that.”

On Monday, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reported one new case of the virus in Pickens County, taking the total in the county to 59. Across the state, 6,757 COVID-19 cases had been confirmed as of Monday, with 283 deaths.

Although cases have been reported in each of the state’s 46 counties, Pickens County’s rate of infection was third-lowest in the state as of Monday at 46.5 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents. Oconee County is second-lowest, as it had had 27 confirmed cases as of Monday, with a rate of 33.94 per 100,000 residents. Cherokee County had the lowest rate in the state at 31.41 cases per 100,000 people.

Although Roper did not have Monday’s latest DHEC numbers confirming a new case in Pickens County — and those numbers were likely to rise with Tuesday figures released after press time — he said there had been 20 active cases of COVID-19 in the county over the previous 14 days.

“A total of 58 confirmed cases have been reported since March 20, 2020,” he said. “You can see that see that our active cases are staying relatively flat right now, which is good news. That’s good news. Obviously we would love to see them start declining, but I suspect that we’ll see them stay relatively flat over the next few weeks.”

DHEC projects the county will have 79 cases by May 15, Roper said.

“So they’re expecting it to rock along at about the pace we have now,” he said.

The county continues to receive failing grades from Unacast on social distancing and other measures, Roper said.

“We continue to do worse, which I don’t really think is surprising, given that we’re starting to see the governor loosen up some strictures,” he said. “We’re getting Fs … in our mobility, in our reduction of nonessential visits and in our encounters with others. We get F, F, F.”

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s executive order returning the work or home order to a voluntary status went into effect Monday.

“So today we’re back to voluntary. It’s not mandatory,” Roper said. “We just need to encourage each other to try to limit those trips. It’s really best for us.”

In other county COVID-19 news, DHEC announced last week that Foothills Presbyterian Community in Easley had three confirmed cases of the virus in staff and/or residents.