GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) — Cases of COVID-19 have been falling in the Palmetto State, but experts are warning South Carolinians not to get complacent.
“I think they’re going down across the state because people have taken the responsibility to put masks on,” said Dr. Wendell James, who is the chief clinical officer at Prisma Health Upstate.
Dr. James said cities and big box stores mandating masks have been a big help.
While testing has also gone down across the state, Dr. James says that’s a sign of a slower spread. Percentage of positive tests also appears to be trending downward across the state.
“I think what you’re seeing with decreased testing is we’ve mitigated the spread of this, and we’re not seeing the rapid rising cases in the community that we were seeing before,” Dr. James said.
Greenville was the first city and countywide hot spot identified in the state in early June after seeing a rapid spike in cases. Dr. James said hospitals were getting concerned about being overwhelmed, but after a public push to get the virus under control, hospitalizations are down roughly 30 percent, to a level that healthcare systems can manage.
“What we said at that time was if we put the mask on, if we distanced, we take meticulous hand hygiene seriously and if you’re sick, you don’t go to work, you get tested,” he said. “What we said we would see is exactly what has happened.”
He said cases are still significantly higher than they were before the spikes from Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, and they could get worse again, with Labor Day and the start of school.
Greenville County Councilman Ennis Fant, who represents the hard-hit western part of the county, says he’s worried, too.
“Now you see the numbers improving, and then we have a holiday and everybody wants to go to the lake or the beach, have their one little last hurrah…I’m afraid coupling that with the flu we can have an explosion of the pandemic all over again,” Fant said.
Flu season approaching is another reason Dr. James says we need to continue to take Covid-19 seriously, as well as the flu because getting the flu and the coronavirus at the same time can make you sicker and lead to more strain on hospitals.
“What we want is flu vaccinations, lots of flu vaccinations,” Dr. James said.
The CDC recommends getting flu shots in September or October.