We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccines in South Carolina. Check back for updates.

More than 600 new cases reported

At least 466,318 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in South Carolina and 8,092 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control on Friday reported 683 new COVID-19 cases, up from 510 reported the day before.

Seven coronavirus-related deaths and three “probable” deaths were also reported Friday.

At least 470 people were reported hospitalized with the coronavirus in the state as of Friday, with 116 patients in the ICU.

As of Friday, 3.9% of COVID-19 tests were reported positive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 5% or lower means there is a low level of community spread.

Over 1.9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in South Carolina, and more than 723,000 people in the state have “completed vaccination” as of Wednesday, the last day new data was reported.

SC Republicans speak out against ‘vaccine passports’

South Carolina won’t tolerate “vaccine passports,” Gov. Henry McMaster said, a sentiment shared by most of the state’s Republican congressmen.

The idea of requiring U.S. residents to carry documentation proving they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to travel is “un-American to its core,” McMaster said in a tweet.

Friday, five of South Carolina’s six Republican Congress members signed a letter supporting McMaster’s view, saying they had “grave concerns” about vaccine passports.

“Today, we ask that you do everything in your power under the law to prohibit ‘vaccine passports’ from being required to enter, enjoy and move about our beautiful state,” the letter read.

While the Biden administration is working to establish standards for residents to prove they’ve been vaccinated, the White House has said there will not be a federal requirement for Americans to get such documents.

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Despite those promises, many Republicans are continuing to speak out against vaccine passports, or similar concepts.

2,000 SC teachers fully vaccinated at mass clinic

Teachers who were the among the first to get the COVID-19 vaccine under Phase 1b in South Carolina last month returned to Darlington Raceway’s mass vaccination clinic for their second shot Thursday, according to The Sun News.

The clinic, hosted by McLeod Health, estimates it has inoculated nearly 2,000 teachers since it was granted permission from the state to begin vaccinating educators early.

Officials said most were from Florence School District One and lined up for their second shot of the Moderna vaccine.

“We’re excited about that,” said Will McLeod, administrator of McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence. “I think anything we can do to get back to a normal life, to get kids back in school feels great.”

Raises restored for Beaufort County Schools staff

After a coronavirus-related budget freeze, Beaufort County employees will finally have their annual raises restored, The Island Packet reported.

Teachers and staff will also receive back pay for raises that were halted due to the pandemic last year.

The Beaufort County Council will make a final decision on the school district’s budget in June.

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