FILE - Coronavirus Outbreak

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, orange, emerging from the surface of cells, green, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19.

(The Center Square) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reported 987 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, well over the previous single-day record of 802 cases reported Saturday.

Thursday's total brings the number of COVID-19 cases in South Carolina to 21,533, including 621 deaths. At least 350 new cases have been reported every day since June 4.

DHEC said the daily number of positive tests versus tests conducted continues to hover at 12 percent to 14 percent. The 4,558 confirmed new cases during the week of June 7 was the highest of any week and double the week before.

State health officials also said the average age of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 is 44.5 years old, with 17 percent of cases coming from people 21 to 30 years old and 13 percent younger than that. Of the 621 deaths, 1.2 percent were under the age of 40.

“Healthy people may feel they are resistant to the virus, may feel that even if they contract it, they’ll have mild symptoms and feel better in a couple of days,” Dr. Linda Bell, state epidemiologist, said at a news conference Thursday. “This may be true for some, but it’s also true we’re seeing hospitalizations and deaths in those who were previously healthy and in almost every age group.”

The latest figures show 561 people statewide are hospitalized with COVID-19 this week, up from 482 last week.

Bell also continued to implore people to wear face masks in public and continue social distancing. Gov. Henry McMaster also has said the same in recent weeks, but he has said he has no plans to implement more restrictions on businesses or sign an order requiring face masks be worn in public.

When South Carolina legislators return to session next week, one of their first tasks will be figuring out how to allocate some $1.9 billion in federal aid to cover state and local government costs in fighting the coronavirus.

Proposals include $500 million to shore up the state’s hard-hit unemployment insurance fund and almost $223 million for schools to hold summer math and reading camps ahead of students returning to class in the fall.

The unemployment trust fund has paid $543 million in benefits since mid-March, nearly 50 percent of its assets.

Hospitals also could get $125 million through a relief fund to reimburse them for the cost of personal protective equipment for employees.