Horry County is seeing more ‘probable’ COVID-19 cases than confirmed ones. Here’s why

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A 3-D rendering of the coronavirus (Getty Images).

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — As the number of new COVID-19 cases in South Carolina continues to decline, the gap between its amount of confirmed and probable cases has begun to shrink.

There’s been several days within the last few weeks when Horry County’s share of probable cases has outnumbered it’s confirmed ones. Often, when it does, it is either the only county — or one of a handful — of areas in the state that has had more probable than confirmed cases. 

Confirmed COVID-19 cases make up 84% of the state’s total 557,803 cases, according to Tuesday numbers from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. That same day, 66.7% of the state’s 537 new cases were confirmed. In Horry County, confirmed cases made up 52.5% of its 40 new cases.

Those changing numbers don’t mean that there are more unsubstantiated COVID-19 cases in Horry County, according to DHEC, which pointed to the shift coming after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidance in the fall to say that results from antigen tests are considered probable cases.

“Since then, for the past few months, more and more people have been seeking antigen tests (rapid test), which has led to an increase in probable cases,” a spokesperson for DHEC said in response to an inquiry from News13. “Antigen tests were initially fairly limited but they’ve been widely available for the past several months.”

It did not answer why Horry County specifically has seen the percentage of probable cases rise.

The gap between confirmed and probable cases continues to shrink both statewide and locally. From March 26 to April 6, there were seven days where Horry County’s probable cases outnumbered its confirmed ones. During the same time, the state’s number of confirmed cases ranged from 54% to 66.7% of the total new cases. 

In comparison, on Feb. 6, confirmed cases made up 76.3% of Horry County’s total, and 89.9% of the state’s total cases.

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