Greenville identified as Covid-19 hot spot in S.C.

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The first week in June has seen an increase in coronavirus cases in Greenville with an average of 69 new cases reported each day, according to DHEC.

“Through expanded testing efforts, we’ve been able to identify Greenville as a current hot spot in the state, where the number of daily cases has been increased for the past week,” said DHEC Physician Consultant Dr. Brannon Traxler in an email to 7News.

Numbers released this week show cases of the virus are climbing across the state.

“We’re looking at some statistics that are taking us back to what we saw back in March,” said Shannon McCowan, who is the Chief Operating Officer at Bon Secours St. Francis in Greenville.

McCowan said there were upticks after both Easter and Memorial Day.

“We were adding about one new inpatient case a day up until Memorial Day. Since then, we’re adding two and three every day,” she said.

McCowan and Gov. Henry McMaster both said the increase is partly due to more testing, as well as more relaxed attitudes to social distancing.

“We’ve expected that, but what we are concerned about is it seems to be lack of concern on the part of some people who think that the virus is receding…it’s not,” McMaster said. “It’s still here. It’s just as powerful and dangerous as it was.”

Suggestions that the spread would slow during the warm Summer months haven’t been shown to be true, McCowan said.

“There is some correlation, but it really dosen’t bear out that we probably would see a reduction just based on the temperature alone,” McCowan said.

In Greenville this week, DHEC reported about half a dozen instances of multiple cases in the same home, likely meaning that the virus is passing among family members.

The virus is having a larger affect on the Hispanic community, with about 30 percent of recent cases identifying as Hispanic, according to Dr. Traxler. Hispanics make up about 9 percent of Greenville’s population, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Testing events have been increased in Hispanic communities in Greenville County, along with the ongoing community-wide, drive-thru testing event, which is available to anyone, occurring at the Greenville Convention Center,” Dr. Traxler said.

She said DHEC has increased testing in Greenville’s Hispanic community this week.

“A mobile clinic is scheduled for [Saturday] at Cherrydale Elementary, to focus testing efforts on the Hispanic community; bilingual staff will be present,” she said. “And the testing events at the Greenville Convention Center, conducted by the Upstate Healthcare Coalition, have been extended for an additional week.”

At Bon Secours, McCowan said they’re okay on PPE and hospital beds for now.

“At this point in time, we’re still not anywhere near the pandemic proportions that the state had feared,” she said.

But she’s still urging people to be careful, especially the elderly and those with underlying conditions.

“It’s a choice, do you choose to go into this situation or into this venue, or not, and to make sure that you’re thinking about it and you’re conscious of the decisions that you’re making,” McCowan said.

DHEC reported that 70 percent of hospital beds in the state are being used as of the morning of June 5. Of the 7,337 occupied beds, about 6.5 percent were being used by coronavirus patients.

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