State and Lowcountry health officials fear fall months with winter viruses already surfacing

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is changing some protocols to handle the uptick in covid hospitalizations including reopening their covid units.

The hospital says throughout 129 patients in the hospital, 83% are unvaccinated, and across their hospital system, 36 are in the ICU. Only one of those in the ICU are vaccinated and of those 36, 22 are on ventilators.

On Wednesday,12 children were hospitalized with COVID-19, 3 of those on ventilators. Medical officials say the variant is hitting children much harder than previous acute COVID-19 infections. 

According to Dr. Elizabeth Mack, a Pediatric ICU Physician and Division Director at MUSC, 20 percent of their 2021 numbers have been in August and the month is not over yet.

Even more, Dr. Mack notes the hospitals are filled with more than just COVID-19. She says they are seeing Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Rhinovirus, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, and MIS-C. Most of those viruses typically surfacing in the fall in winter, however, they are making an early appearance this year. 

We don’t know how obviously this will trend but I would say it is incredibly important for kids to be caught up with their childhood immunization schedule. Get their COVID vaccines for those 12 and up—and their flu vaccines for everyone 6 months and up. 

Dr. Elizabeth Mack, Peds ICU Physician and Division Director MUSC 

Dr. Brannon Traxler the Public Health Director for the Department of Health and Environmental Control says right now, she is worried about what will happen in the fall when cooler weather causes more to be inside. 

There is the potential and concern for seeing this and flu overlapping just as there was last year. 

Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Public Health Director 

Both those with MUSC and DHEC agreeing that the so-called ‘twindemic’ of flu and COVID can be avoided if precautions are taken. 

The precautions include getting a large portion of South Carolinians who are eligible to be vaccinated alongside basic precautions in the meantime such as masking and physical distancing.

Dr. Traxler believes with the additional efforts, “we can change the direction of this”. 

For more on where you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine, click here.

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