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Is the two-state region on the verge of another COVID surge?

Published: May. 27, 2022 at 6:02 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Many health experts – including in South Carolina – believe there will be another rise in COVID cases in the Southeast this summer.

Cases have already started to go up in South Carolina over the past several weeks. It’s the state’s first surge since the omicron wave over the past winter.

A South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control official says if people were infected during that surge, it’s hard to know at this point if they still have immunity or to what extent.

“What I think is most important for people to understand who may have had omicron but are not vaccinated is that you can actually increase your immune response by now getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Jane Kelly, DHEC’s assistant state epidemiologist.

Kelly says one group she’s especially worried about heading into the summer are children.

Among the 5- to 11-year-old age group, fewer than one in five kids are fully vaccinated at this point.

“What’s going to happen this summer as they’re mingling more at the pool?” Kelly asked. “What’s going to happen as they’re visiting Grandma? What’s going to happen when they return to school in the fall? So I would urge people, now is a great time to go ahead and get your child vaccinated, as well.”

The average number of reported COVID cases per seven days is nearly double what it was a month ago.

Kelly says the rise of cases right now is underreported because of the proliferation of at-home tests, which don’t get reported to DHEC.

But when you zoom out – this is still much less severe than what South Carolina experienced during the omicron surge.

As with the last two-plus years, health experts are cautioning people heading into another long weekend.

“Use common sense with regards to keeping yourself safe from COVID,” Kelly said. “Outdoors is safer than indoors. If you have to be in a crowded, indoor setting for some reason — I don’t know, it’s Memorial Day Weekend and you’ve got to run to the store for something and it’s packed — that’s the time to consider wearing your mask.”

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