GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Prisma Health says the unvaccinated population continues to make up nearly 80% of its hospitalized COVID patients, this as the omicron variant continues to spread rapidly.

The recent spike in COVID cases continues to impact the Upstate. But some Prisma doctors are hoping the recent winter weather has provided the perfect storm for limiting virus spread.

“As of today 15,029 south Carolinians have lost their lives to this virus,” said DHEC Director of Public Health Dr. Brannon Traxler.

Prisma Health currently has 647 COVID-19 patients system wide

“We are in this roller coaster in the numbers continue to rise. DHEC is reporting record numbers of 68,000 patients over the past four days,” said Dr. Steve Shelton, incident commander at Prisma Health in the Midlands.

However, some doctors hope recent weather that has kept many at home will help stop the spread of the omicron variant.

“They’ve now been if they’re closed today that’s five days in a row that schools have been closed that could potentially especially any transmissions occurring in the school break that chain of transmission,” Traxler said.

And with 17 pediatric patients currently at Prisma upstate, this could be crucial.

“Many of them had both Friday as a teacher workday and then the Monday Martin Luther King holiday, and then we follow that with snow, and then e-learning,” said Dr. Robin LaCroix, medical director at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital.

Even so, doctors urge parents to get eligible children the COVID-19 shot, since all pediatric patients in the Upstate have not been vaccinated or are too young. Saying although omicron is thought of as less severe, severe cases do still exist.

“Anybody that’s infected is really at risk for a severe illness there might be different levels of that risk but they’re still at risk,” Traxler said.

The Greenville County School District remains on e-learning due to winter weather. A spokesperson says they will have a clearer picture of how the days at home have effected the spread of COVID once students are back in the classroom.