CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Medical and political leaders say South Carolina and the Lowcountry are in the eleventh hour when it comes to slowing the spread of COVID-19. Health officials say hospital beds are running out as case and death tolls peak.
Health officials say as hospitalization rates rise, they are faced with deciding who receives treatment and who to send home. Officials warn if health guidelines aren’t followed, it’s only going to get worse.
Among those speaking at press conference held Friday at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), Dr. Robert Ball, an Epidemiologist with MUSC, Dr. Melvin Brown, an emergency medical physician, and South Carolina State Senator Marlon Kimpson among others.
“Of all of the viruses that I have studied in my career, many decades, this is the only one that has truly, truly scared me,” says Dr. Ball.
State leaders and health officials agree the state and Charleston County are at a watershed moment.
“If South Carolina were a country, it would be experiencing the third worst COVID-19 outbreak in the world,” says South Carolina State Senator Marlon Kimpson.
“But we are at a point right now where we are looking at the mass of patients that we have to take care of and trying to make hard decisions about who can go home safely and who can stay in the hospital,” says local physician Dr. Melvin Brown.
The Governor announced Friday alcohol sales would end each night at 11pm across the state starting on Saturday night. State Senator Kimpson says the latest restriction should be just the start.
“I would certainly close the bars and also consider closing indoor dining,” says Senator Kimpson.
Young adults ages 21 to 30 is the group seeing the highest increase in new cases some, doctors say some are likely unaware of the infection.
“20 to 40% of people infected with Coronavirus have no symptoms, they are asymptomatic but they can still spew virus,” says Dr. Ball.
An end-goal of resuming normal life, Senator Kimpson says it will only happen if guidelines are taken serious and strictly followed.
“Until we flatten the curve and control the spread, we can not possibly talk about resuming business and returning to normal,” says Senator Kimpson.
Health officials say right now Charleston is doubling cases every nine days. They also say hospitalizations are much higher in Charleston versus other parts of the state. Senator Kimpson says current projections show hospitals running out of ICU beds in late October and the State of South Carolina reaching the 4,000 mark in deaths by November.