COVID-19 Confirmed & Probable Cases

Reporting COVID-19 Probable Cases & Probable Deaths

Beginning the week of June 14, 2020, in addition to reporting the daily number of confirmed cases and deaths, DHEC also is reporting probable cases and probable deaths in regard to COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently began recommending states begin providing these two new data sets, and South Carolina is the 23rd state in the country to begin reporting this information.

  • A confirmed case – what DHEC has been reporting – is an individual who had a confirmatory viral test performed by way of a throat or nose swab and that specimen tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19. A positive viral test, also called a PCR test or molecular test, alone is enough to classify a confirmed case.
  • A probable case is an individual who has not had a confirmatory viral test performed but has: 

1. epidemiologic evidence and clinical evidence of infection, or 

2. a positive antibody blood test and either epidemiologic evidence or clinical evidence. (A positive antibody test alone is currently not a reliable method for diagnosing a COVID-19 infection.)

  • A confirmed death – what DHEC has been reporting – is someone whose death is related to COVID-19 and who tested positive with a viral test for COVID-19. 
  • A probable death is an individual whose death certificate lists COVID-19 disease or SARS-CoV-2 as a cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death but did not undergo confirmatory viral testing.

Through public health investigations, new information could lead to probable cases and probable deaths being confirmed or ruled out entirely. New information could include results of viral testing found after the initial report was received. The definitions of probable cases and deaths may also change as more is learned about the accuracy of antibody testing.  

DHEC is committed to providing accurate and transparent data that is aligned with current federal guidance. This new data set of probable cases and probable deaths will be part of our daily case and death reporting both online and in our news releases. 


Community Survey COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2