Will South Carolina face a wave of COVID during the 2021 vacation?

The global outlook for COVID-19 is grim. Medical centers in the Upper Midwest, including Minnesota and Michigan, are grappling with a wave of hospitalizations for coronavirus. A concerning the new variant was discovered in South Africa. And deaths in Europe are quick assembly.

The grim news raises a crucial question: Will there be another winter wave this year in South Carolina that rivals the devastating wave of COVID-19 cases that occurred in late 2020 and early 2021?

The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette recently asked Dr Brannon Traxler, state director of public health, to influence the pandemic trajectory of the state of Palmetto.

Traxler warned that unless residents increasingly choose to wear face masks and get vaccinated, South Carolina will likely experience a peak in cases this holiday season, although the severity and timing of this increase remain uncertain.

Here’s what else Traxler had to say at a briefing on Wednesday, in which reporters were unable to ask follow-up questions. Traxler’s responses have been edited for clarity and length.

Questions and answers

Question: Based on the state’s epidemic curve as of December 2020, when do you expect a post-Thanksgiving surge to hit South Carolina this year?

Traxler: It’s hard to project – really this pandemic in general – but especially when and how cases will increase, and what that curve would look like. Data from the previous year can’t really be used to project … because we’re talking about COVID. At the same time last year, we didn’t have a vaccine, but we also didn’t have this delta variant, which is more transmissible, so it all depends on how much we can increase our vaccination rates and the safety of Southern Carolinians when they celebrate over the holidays.

If we increase our masking and vaccinations, we hope we don’t see a significant spike in cases. If we don’t practice these protocols, chances are we will see a peak, although it is still difficult to determine when and how much (this can be important). We know that it takes about a week, plus or minus a few days, to start seeing the effect of an event on a case curve.

DHEC nurse Naomi Frazier designs vaccines at a FEMA mass vaccination site at Columbia Place Mall in Columbia. The site will provide approximately 1,000 vaccines per day. 04/13/21 Tracy Glantz [email protected]

Question: Does the HC Department of Health and Environmental Control believe that due to the surge in infections in South Carolina and other southeastern states last summer, any potential winter peaks this season? holidays will be blunted due to an increased wall of natural immunity? If so, how ?

Traxler: Natural immunity can certainly play a certain role, but we do not know the duration of natural immunity in a person after an infection to find out whether and to what extent those infected in the summer – or even last winter – are still protected. The # 1 way to prevent severe cases of COVID-19 and end this pandemic is vaccination. … And I want to stress that even people with a history of COVID-19 infection benefit greatly, in terms of protection, if they get vaccinated.

Question: How worried are you for December and January this winter, considering what happened in late 2020 and early 2021?

Traxler: It’s not so much to compare the specific timeframes as the situations are very different (now) than they were a year ago, but in general, whenever you have large amounts of unvaccinated people and / or unmasked that congregate, especially indoors, which happens in cold weather, COVID-19 can and will spread faster. So from that point of view there is fear of an increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, which is why we insist so hard on vaccinations and other safety protocols.

COL_covidvax1retirement home1
Nora Schafer receives the first injection of the coronavirus vaccine from Dr Jennifer Henzler in Wellmore of Lexington on Wednesday, December 30, 2020. Schafer looks forward to seeing her son after she fully immunizes. Joshua Boucher [email protected]

Question: Does DHEC have COVID-19 immunity estimates for South Carolina that include both vaccinations and natural infections?

Traxler: Well we certainly have our vaccination dashboard … but beyond that, I have no data relevant to this question. Again, part of this goes back to the broader scientific, medical, and health communities – not just nationally, but around the world – lacking the information to know how long the treatment lasts. protection of a person from natural immunity or even widespread means of measuring this for the typical person in the public.

Question: In terms of investigating coronavirus cases, what does DHEC see on the ground? Where are people regularly infected and who commonly infects them?

Traxler: It’s hard to say. Identifying how cases spread during a pandemic is difficult because you don’t always get or always have an accurate picture of where and how the disease was contracted, and that’s not because people try to deceive, it’s because they often don’t know.

To help manage the summer influx of COVID-19 patients, Beaufort Memorial Hospital has relocated a tent in its parking lot, as seen on Friday August 13, 2021. Drew Martin [email protected]

Case trends

Traxler also said on Wednesday that after seeing a steady decline in the spread of COVID-19 between early September and mid-November, cases “rose” in South Carolina last week, with more than 5,100 new infections reported. statewide.

“I don’t want to press the panic button,” Traxler said, “but we strongly encourage all South Carolinians to pursue the safety protocols that have helped us lower these numbers.”

What’s at stake?

Between December 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021, South Carolina recorded 245,088 cases of coronavirus, DHEC data shows. This represents about 27% of all infections reported in the state since the start of the epidemic.

“We need everyone on board,” Traxler said, “if we are to finally end this pandemic. “

The data for this story is up to date on Friday morning.

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Sam Ogozalek is a reporter for The Island Packet and covers COVID-19 recovery efforts. He is also a member of the Report for America Corps. He is a recent graduate of Syracuse University and has written for the Tampa Bay Times, The Buffalo News, and the Naples Daily News.

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