COVID-19 case counts climbing in U.S. and South Carolina

Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 7:43 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The number of COVID-19 cases in South Carolina remains low compared to the surge over the winter, but the counts are climbing.

NBC News analysis finds that as of July 7, the state has seen a 55% jump over the previous 14 days.

It also finds the U.S. has seen a 6.9% jump.

Assistant State Epidemiologist Jane Kelly said South Carolina’s unvaccinated community is suffering the consequences.

“During those first two weeks in June, this is very recent information, 11 South Carolinians lost their lives to COVID-19, but that’s a vaccine-preventable disease. We could have helped save their lives if they were fully vaccinated,” she said.

As of July 7, DHEC reports 43% of the population over the age of 12 is vaccinated.

The rise in South Carolina cases has not translated to a rise in COVID-19 deaths, as the NBC analysis finds a 26% drop over the same period.

The availability of acute hospital beds in South Carolina has slowly improved since February, with the midlands currently 74.2%.

Prisma Health Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Rick Scott said the steep drop in cases over the spring and summer has provided some relief to the Prisma team, but the lack of vaccinations and the contagious Delta variant is keeping them wary.

RELATED STORY | Contagious Delta variant of COVID raises concerns; health officials worry about low vaccination rate

“We talked as recently as five days ago about whether or not to stand up a mock command center, just as we have run every day for 400 straight days at Prisma,” he said.

Scott said Prisma is in a better position to handle a surge now than it was in the winter.

SC Hospital Association Chief Operating Officer Melanie Matney echoed Scott’s assessment on hospital preparedness but did point to other needs arising.

“People over the course of the pandemic really avoided care, and so now what we’re seeing are admissions and emergency department visits related to chronic health conditions that really could have been addressed earlier, and maybe more efficiently,” she said.

Scott, Matney, and Kelly all urged residents to get vaccinated. Information on where and how can be found on DHEC’s website.

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