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Is rise in COVID a cause for concern in Georgia, South Carolina?

New variants are set to keep COVID-19 circulating at high levels throughout the summer, according to new research. (CNN, Life Itself)
Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 3:10 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 8, 2022 at 9:08 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Although the seven-day average of new COVID cases is about four times more than it was a month ago across the nation, we’re still at low-level community spread in Richmond County.

Cases are up since the low point in April, but the daily cases are still much lower than the highest peak in January. The county saw 322 cases over the most recently reported two-week period.

Across Georgia, 656 patients were hospitalized with COVID on Tuesday, compared to 5,400 at the height of the last peak in January.

In South Carolina, the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control said COVID cases had risen up to 30% compared to May.

With most testing shifting to home tests, health agencies are placing less emphasis on total cases than on hospitalizations and deaths, which are seen as more meaningful measurements in an endemic phase. Plus it’s likely that many, if not most, positive results aren’t getting reported to the state.

In South Carolina, health officials reported overall cases are up 31.7% compared to a month earlier. However, the week-to-week data showed cases were down 1.4% compared to the previous reporting period.

The most recent week, there were 8,913 cases. The previous month trendline showed cases had plateaued and fallen off slightly before rising again. The rising case count also coupled with rising hospitalizations.

The department reported 261 people in South Carolina had been hospitalized with COVID. This represents a 53.3% increase compared to May but is only a 13.3% increase compared to the previous week.

Health officials in South Carolina continue to encourage everyone 5 and older to get vaccinated.

But for those who have already been vaccinated – there can be some confusion about boosters.

Dr. Jane Kelly, the assistant state epidemiologist at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. says it’s unfortunate that there is some confusion about boosters.

But she says that’s understandable, with recommendations changing as the medical community learns more.

“I know we’re two years into this pandemic, but two years is not a very long time when you’re learning about a new infectious disease,” Kelly said.

Here are the latest recommendations for boosters from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Anyone who has been fully vaccinated is eligible to receive a first booster. As of May, that includes kids as young as 5.

Everyone is recommended to get this first booster at least five months after completing their initial series.

When it comes to a second booster, all fully vaccinated adults who are 50 and older are advised to get that shot.

So, too, is everyone 12 and older who is moderately to severely immunocompromised.

“Meaning someone who, say, has cancer and is being actively treated with chemotherapy or an autoimmune condition like lupus or sarcoid, where they might be on strong medications that weaken their immune system, or anyone who has had an organ transplant,” Kelly said.

People in both these groups are recommended to get their second booster at least four months after their first one.

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