CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in South Carolina, the Charleston area emerges as a particularly concerning hotspot. Local healthcare experts are urging leaders and the public to take action now, or face possible shutdowns in the near future.
According to the MUSC COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project, 67% of total COVID-19 cases in the Tri-County area were diagnosed over the past two weeks. Additionally, “the current 7-day average growth rate of new cases is at 8.1%.” If this rate is sustained, the number of cases will double every eight to nine days, and the region will jump to over 40,000 active cases by the end of July.
MUSC warns that community spread is significant, “and the current risk of infection is at its highest to date….[and] concerted action should be taken to encourage the population to take precautions to avoid viral infection and transmission.” The rapidly increasing rate of new cases will significantly hinder contact tracing abilities, which could lead to “more drastic mitigation efforts such as shutdowns” being necessary.”
In addition to contact tracing being threatened by the pervasiveness of the virus, hospital capacity is a concern as well. Although MUSC confirms that they currently have sufficient capacity and supplies, “the number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 has increased substantially over the past several weeks at the charleston MUSC University hospital.”
MUSC reports 75 COVID-19 inpatients currently hospitalized at the Charleston facility. Of those, 25 are in intensive care, and 14 are on ventilators.
Hospital officials are urgently stressing mitigation efforts, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing, as a means of getting the outbreak under control while we still can.