GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Doctors across the state are warning about another potential surge in COVID-19 cases. They said with the quick spread of the omicron variant there’s even more concern.
State Health Department numbers show Greenville County has the highest number of new Covid-19 cases with 1,270 on Thursday. Now local hospitals are worried about running out of space and being low on staff.
According to DHEC, 212 COVID-19 beds are occupied in Greenville County, but doctors expect this number to increase over the next several weeks as omicron continues to spread.
“We do believe that the new surge has not peaked yet,” Dr. Steve Shelton, incident commander for Prisma Health-Midlands, said.
Prisma Health has 438 COVID patients statewide with 80% of them being unvaccinated. Right now Prisma has enough bed space to care for these patients but are coming up against another problem.
“We’re confident that our capacity is good but we are concerned about staffing,” Dr. Shelton said.
Other hospital systems are feeling the pressure, too.
“It’s important to remember that hospitalizations typically lag a few weeks after the increase in cases,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said.
AnMed Health Medical Center reports a 45% increase in hospitalized patients from December 29 to January 4. Prisma doctors say community spread is to blame.
“More importantly, that number appears to be rising in a seven day period 1% to 2% per day,” Dr. Robin LaCroix, the medical director at Children’s Hospital—Upstate, said.
Children are being effected too. Prisma reports 37 children are hospitalized system wide with COVID-19–that’s one patient shy of a record. Three are in the ICU. This as lines to get tested are hours-long in some spots.
“We acknowledge that testing wait times and the result turnaround times are increasing just due to the enormous number of people who are showing signs of illness or are being exposed,” Dr. Bell said.
Doctors said the solution remains the same: get vaccinated and boosted.
“It makes it less likely that you would be admitted to the hospital it also makes it very unlikely that you will be in serious condition and instead you will have a very mild illness,” Dr. Caughman Taylor, the medical director at Children’s Hospital-Midlands, said.
In addition to these measures, Prisma doctors said there’s another way you can help. That’s by seeking testing in the correct places, specifically not coming to emergency rooms.
DHEC said there are more than 300 testing sites statewide.