Health officials predict COVID-19 numbers will rise after 4th of July weekend

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- New data from the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) shows COVID-19 numbers are climbing in South Carolina. Experts from the Medical University of South Carolina say three coronavirus key indicators hit the ‘red zone.’

“This past week, we saw daily increases in infections of 1,000. We didn’t even see that in the peak of the first wave,” said Dr. Michael Schmidt, an epidemiologist for MUSC.

Schmidt believes recent numbers are a product of the community’s change in behavior. With multiple restrictions lifted, some are eager for life to go back to normal.

“Families got together for picnics, cookouts, you know just the gatherings. We’ve gone the past three months without seeing our loved ones and we said ‘okay, the governor said it’s okay to go back,’ but the virus snuck in,” he said.

One example of a large gathering showing a spike in COVID-19 numbers is Labor Day. Dr. Schmidt calls the phenomenon “The Barbecue Effect.” He expects a similar situation to occur after July 4th.

“We have to socially distance ourselves from our cousins, who may not be living with us, may be bringing another present to the cookout or the gathering. They may be bringing a virus, unbeknownst to them,” he said.

Another instance where big groups have been gathering is during the Black Lives Matter protests. While a majority of protestors are seen wearing masks, it’s not mandated. Dr. Schmidt recommends wearing a mask or face shield at all times in public, especially in large gatherings.

“It sounds like a broken record, hand hygiene, mask wearing, and social distancing. If we do those three things collectively, we can all go back to work and begin to resume, albeit a little bit abnormal, our routine lives,” he said.

To see a breakdown of the latest COVID-19 report from DHEC, click here.

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