SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – COVID-19 cases are on the rise once again in South Carolina as the CDC releases new guidance on masking.
This as less than 50% of South Carolinians are vaccinated. Medical experts say the current surge is mainly among the unvaccinated and the majority of cases are of the Delta variant.
Doctors across the state are urging people to remain vigilant.
In late June, Prisma Health reported 11 COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide. As of Wednesday that number rose to 111.
“The infection is ramping up in a way that all the recommendations in the CDC guidelines apply to us,” Dr. Helmut Albrecht, an infectious disease physician at Prisma Health, said.
Doctors at Prisma Health are urging South Carolinians to get vaccinated if they are able, and to follow new CDC masking guidelines, saying this is now a pandemic among the unvaccinated.
“The vast majority of those hospitalized, unfortunately, are those who have not yet been vaccinated,” Dr. Rick Scott, the chair of Prisma Health’s vaccination task force, said.
State epidemiologist Linda Bell reinforced her support of the CDC guidelines.
“We continue to encourage residents to do everything they can to protect themselves and protect their health and protect their families in our community,” Dr. Bell said.
White House COVID officials say although South Carolina isn’t seeing infection rates as bad as some other states, precautions should still be taken.
“It doesn’t mean that it can’t get to that point. When your vaccination rate it lower it means that your state is at risk of seeing this increase in cases,” Cameron Webb, the senior policy advisor for equity with the White House COVID Response Team, said.
And there’s plenty to go around. Prisma estimates there are more that 100,000 unused doses statewide.
“It sounds to me like there are at least 50,000 people who have the opportunity to go get vaccinated and get those two shots,” Webb said.
But, they won’t last long.
DHEC confirms more than 26,000 of vaccine will expire by mid-September.
“But that supply will begin to expire later in the summer and in the fall,” Dr. Scott said.
Dr. Bell saying this is the way to beat the virus.
“This shows us that we can defeat COVID-19 if all eligible people get vaccinated,” Dr. Bell said.
According to the White House COVID Task Force, those states seeing an increase in cases are also seeing an increase in vaccinations.
DHEC is finalizing its recommendations for going back to school and expects to release those guidelines later this week.