Laurens Co. mayors urge public to help flatten coronavirus curve

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LAURENS COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) — Local government leaders in Laurens County on Tuesday repeated calls to the public to mask up, avoid large gatherings, practice social distancing and good hygiene. The pleas come as the county’s limited hospital capacity continues to fill.

According to the most recent data from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the county’s hospital occupancy rate is 64.2 percent.

However, some are concerned that number is misleading: For a county with an estimated population over 67,000 residents, there are now only 24 available beds and two available ventilators. There are no available ICU beds.

You can see the latest SCDHEC hospital capacity data by county here.

“Twenty four beds? That’s not enough,” Clinton Mayor Bob McLean said. “We need everybody to do their part. You may not want to wear a mask. I’m not saying that you need to ride around in your car wearing a mask, or sit in your bedroom and wear a mask. But when you’re within six feet of people, wear a mask.”

“Help out a little bit. We need your help.”

In the City of Laurens, Mayor Nathan Senn is urging the public to follow health safety protocols recommended by health experts, too.

According to Senn, the ongoing surge in cases does not just put strain on the physical capacities of the Laurens County Hospital; it is affecting medical workers.

“They’re just tired,” Senn said of hospital staff. “There’s just a demoralization because of seeing the pain, the suffering, the death of folks that are struggling to breathe to live. And it just doesn’t seem to be stopping.”

Prisma Health’s Sandy Dees told 7News in an emailed statement that the hospital system is working to expand capacity and bring in outside help to provide relief.

“At Laurens County Hospital, we are working to open a COVID-19 step-down unit so that we can move recovering patients out of acute care beds and into more appropriate step-down beds, thus opening the other beds for sicker patients,” Dees said.

Prisma said they will expand the hospital bed capacity by 15 by Jan 18.

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