South Carolina COVID-19 cases on steady decline, experts caution for winter months

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Following nearly 3 months of intense pressure put on South Carolina hospitals by the delta variant, the COVID-19 case rate is finally starting to decline in the state.

Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) have been following the trends of the virus closely and found that there has been a 34% decline in cases seen in the past week. However, experts say it’s not time to throw caution to the wind. 

Dr. Michael Sweat, the Director for MUSC’s Center for Global Health says the case rate per day overall has dropped, a lot. 

In Charleston County, Dr. Sweat says we are at 49 cases per day per 100,000. Berkeley County is at 58 cases per day per 100,000. Meanwhile, Dorchester County is the “leader” as they had the highest initial case rates and now stand at 105 cases per day per 100,000.

Although the case rate is declining, it could be some time before the hospitals feel relief as Dr. Sweat says there is often a lag. That lag comes from both how the data is measured and the length of stays from patients that have increased with the delta variant.

That decline also depends on if more continue to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and Influenza.

With our hospital busy taking care of COVID patients, it’s really the last thing we need is to have a flu epidemic happen on top of that. 

Dr. Michael Sweat, Director MUSC Center for Global Health 

Dr. Sweat says last year’s largest wave for the pandemic came in the winter and because there was a weak flu epidemic then with mask mandates in place alongside many keeping distances, any immunity against the flu was not built up. The immunity and lack of protections creating concern that this year, the epidemic could hit hard. 

He says “we really got to watch what is going to happen as we move into the cooler months and it’s just hard to know we only have so much history with COVID, there’s a lot of differences now with vaccination, so it’s something we have to watch”. 

As for scheduling vaccines, according to the CDC, it is okay to get your COVID-19 vaccine and your flu shot at the same time.

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