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Health officials say lack of COVID funding could hit the uninsured

Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 6:36 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Vaccines, COVID treatments, and personal protective equipment have all been available as COVID-19 cases rise and fall.

Health officials say we should have enough supplies to fight this new variant if it continues to increase, but as for the future--we could see some issues.

Testing for COVID is still happening, but things have finally slowed down for our local hospitals.

“We’re seeing dramatically reduced testing needs, dramatically reduced needs for clinical care,” said Dr. Lee Merchen, District 6 health director for the Department of Public Health.

But with the dramatic drop in cases, the future of COVID funding is up in the air.

“The downturn in the funding support matches what we’re seeing across the country,” she said.

However, with another COVID variant on the move, things could change.

“We know we’ve got packages and grant support through 2023 for some of the COVID-related work being done. Some of the more local things are being cut back, based on the numbers of the pandemic and where things change,” said Merchen.

That means DPH would have a hard time staffing testing sites if there were another surge. In South Carolina, state health officials say they’ve seen monoclonal antibody treatments slimmed down.

Dr. Brannon Traxler, director of public health, DHEC: “A lot of these effects won’t be felt immediately. Even if they are felt, it will be over time.”

Over time, providers would stop handing out vaccines to the uninsured.

DPH and DHEC want to stress that they do have enough supply of vaccines and treatment to get through another COVID surge if it’s needed, but both of them say they don’t expect it to be like the omicron surge.

“We have vaccines, and people can still get vaccinated. We have plenty of them in the state currently, and we’re looking longer down the road at these impacts,” he said.

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