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A senior state health official on Thursday urged residents to avoid major New Year’s celebrations as South Carolina faces an “alarming” increase in COVID-19 cases.
“Please consider staying home for the New Years celebrations so that COVID-19 cannot impact you and the people you love,” said Dr Brannon Traxler, director of public health in the department of State of Health and Environmental Control, during a press conference. Report.
She also renewed the call for residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19. More than 40% of South Carolina residents are not yet fully immunized.
“We urge our residents not to waste time. Protect yourself and your families from this deadly virus and its variants,” Traxler said.
His comments came after DHEC reported a total of 5,911 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 based on tests carried out on Tuesday. According to DHEC, 20.5% of these COVID-19 tests came back positive.
“Early data shows we’ll eclipse that mark in tomorrow’s report. And we’ll likely see the numbers skyrocket in the days and weeks after New Years Eve and New Years,” Traxler said.
“Now is not the time to mince words,” she said. “This is downright alarming for our state.”
Greenville County, which is the most populous county in the state, has recorded the most new cases, according to DHEC test results released Thursday. The county had 576 confirmed positive COVID-19 tests and 205 probable cases, for an overall total of 781.
DHEC has reported 250 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Spartanburg, with 180 new cases in Anderson County and 87 in Pickens County.
“We don’t want to start 2022, our third year of COVID-19, with a record number of hospitalizations and deaths,” Traxler said. “But unfortunately we are moving in that direction.”
According to data released Wednesday evening by DHEC, 833 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized in South Carolina, a 38% increase from the previous week. DHEC also reported 161 new hospital admissions of COVID-19 patients, an increase of almost 79% from the previous week.
The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care and those who use ventilators to breathe has also increased over the past week.
The latest wave of COVID-19 in South Carolina began earlier this month as the highly transmissible variant of Omicron began to take hold in the United States
The Medical University of South Carolina reported on Wednesday that Omicron now accounted for the majority of positive cases in its testing lab – 61% as of Christmas Eve.
“We know the Omicron variant is spreading throughout our state,” Traxler said.
According to recent data, the Omicron variant accounts for more than 73% of new COVID-19 infections in the country.
Most of the United States has high transmission rates. Northern states such as New York, Illinois, Wisconsin as well as Florida, Georgia and Alabama are among the hardest hit regions.
While there are indications that the Omicron variant is less likely than the Delta variant to cause serious illness, Traxler said “the jury is still out” on whether this will be the case in South Carolina.
Traxler also said the continued rise in COVID-19 cases could pose problems for the state’s health care system.
“Certainly when we see a large number of cases, even if a lot of them are mild or moderate, you will always have, depending on the volume, a higher number of severe cases,” she said. “And it can overwhelm hospitals.”