South Carolina health officials watch COVID cases climb while fighting misinformation

South Carolina News

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — South Carolina state health officials are doubling down on the U.S. Surgeon General’s advisory about misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine, as the state watches an uptick in cases.

“We’ve lost too many people,” Public Health Director at SCDHEC Dr. Brannon Traxler said during a virtual news conference Wednesday. “We’ve been fighting this pandemic for way too long to allow public health to be impacted by false sources of information.”

Dr. Traxler urged people who have not yet done so to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, and to use credible sources when learning more about the shots.

South Carolina has watched COVID-19 metrics climb in the past few weeks. The state health department announced 462 confirmed cases of the virus Wednesday. The percent positive was 8.8%. On June 21, the percent positive was 2.3%.

“Seeing the increase in raw number of cases as well as that percent positivity, I have so far not seen an increase in deaths to correspond,” Dr. Traxler said. “This likely is due as we know from our data, mostly due to unvaccinated people getting infected.”

Around 44% of South Carolina residents have been fully vaccinated, according to DHEC’s website.

Employees as the Coastal Lab’s mobile unit that performs COVID-19 tests in Murrells Inlet say they’ve seen more positives come through lately.

“We had almost no positives,” office manager Miranda Nordeen said. “And then all of a sudden we started getting positives again. We were getting one or two a week and it’s now daily. We have positives daily.”

Vice President of Medical Affairs at Tidelands Health Dr. Gerald Harmon said the hospital has started to see the impact of the state’s additional caseload.

“A month ago we might have no admissions for COVID for a couple of days and we’d have zero to one,” Harmon said. “Our statistics would show patient census on occasion zero. A round number, which is really comfortable. Two, three, four maybe five at a max.”

“The last week to 10 days we’ve been running high single digits, eight, nine, seven. And you think well it’s not a lot different. But it’s three times, twice what we might have had.”

Harmon said there are several factors that could be contributing to the rise, including possibly the Delta variant. He added there are often things in common with the patients fighting the virus.

“The overwhelming majority are unvaccinated individuals,” Harmon said. “They’re a younger patient demographic because most of those that received the vaccination are the elderly.”

In addition to the elderly, Dr. Harmon said people with chronic comorbidities are also a major part of the vaccinated population.

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