Roper gives county COVID-19 update

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

COUNTY — The leading cause of death in the United States last week was COVID-19, acting Pickens County administrator Ken Roper said.

“It wasn’t heart disease,” he said during a Facebook Live update Monday morning. “It wasn’t cancer. It wasn’t suicide. It wasn’t automobile accidents. It wasn’t homicide. It wasn’t drug overdoses. It was COVID-19. That tells you how serious this is.”

Gov. Henry McMaster’s executive order issued Sunday basically keeps his previous stay-at-home order and other orders “active for 15 more days,” Roper said.

“He renewed the order,” he said. “It’s now active through April 27.”

As of Monday afternoon, Pickens County has had 31 confirmed cases of the virus, including three new cases announced Monday.

“That number’s ticked up a little bit from over the weekend,” Roper said.

Roper said DHEC reported that 18 of the most recent positive “active, potentially communicable” cases were within the last 14 days.

“DHEC estimates — and I don’t know how they measure this — but they estimate that 172 cases are out there that we don’t know about in Pickens County, so a grand total … of 200 total cases,” he said.

DHEC updates its numbers daily, and the most recent numbers were unavailable at press time Tuesday.

But with the number of potential cases across the county in mind, Roper encouraged residents to “behave accordingly.”

“Use social distance,” he said. “Stay home.”

All of the zip codes in Pickens County have had positive cases except for 29685, according to DHEC.

“But I’ll tell you that DHEC estimates there are six to eight in 29685 that we don’t know about, so everywhere in the county you should be trying to practice good social distancing, washing your hands, keeping your masks, that sort of thing,” Roper said.

As of Sunday, there had been 82 deaths in South Carolina as a result of COVID-19, Roper said.

“That’s 82 deaths out of 3,319 positive cases,” Roper said. “Keep those families, those communities in your thoughts and prayers.”

Those number grew to 87 and 3,439 in the latest figures released Monday by state officials, and were expected to increase even more on Tuesday.

Hospital capacity within Pickens County remains good, Roper said.

Schools may be closed, but Pickens County’s grade on social distancing is nothing to be proud of, he said.

Roper said the county’s grade on staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, as measured by the website Unacast, fell to a D-plus.

“Pickens County over the weekend fell from a B back to a D-plus,” he said. “We traveled a lot this weekend, folks.”

Staying at home is “very important,” he said.

“We’re hoping this thing will pass,” Roper said. “We’ll do what we can to stem the tide and we won’t have any fatalities here in Pickens County related to this, we hope. But we’re prepared and we expect that we might get bad news and will have to respond accordingly.”

If you need a phone screening to determine if you have COVID-related symptoms and need to seek medical attention, call (864) 725-4200.

Laid-off workers in South Carolina should contact SC Worklink at 220-8990 or, according to Roper.

“There’s numerous thousands of new jobless claims just in Pickens County,” he said.