HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Horry County’s rate of positive COVID patients in its hospitals is the highest it’s been in more than a year, according to the CDC.

The hospitals have seen a 5% increase in those numbers in just two weeks, the CDC said.

Conway Medical Center said they’ve seen a slight increase in positive COVID cases, but that’s only out of a pool of people with symptoms who are getting tested.

Officials said many more people could be walking around with COVID and not knowing it.

“Patients who are coming in who potentially may have COVID, we’re seeing about 15% of them test positive,” said Paul Richardson, the chief medical officer at Conway Medical Center.

Kid Care Pediatric Care opened its doors just a couple of months ago, and back to school season has definitely kept them busy, according to Summer Watts.

“We see an average of 24 kids per day and that’s in a 6-hour period,” Watts said. “That’s typically what primary sees in an 18-hour period.”

Medical officials said this round of spikes looks fairly similar to previous ones, with upper respiratory issues being the main symptom.

The difference is, however, this time around, they’re seeing fewer cases that require support from things like ventilators.

“I like to say that the virus is a little more watered-down, per say,” Watts said. “What we’re seeing, the people are not as sick as they were when COVID first came out and they’re typically getting better quicker.”

Kid Care officials said they’ve been told that several schools in the area are seeing COVID outbreaks, but they don’t expect to see any cancelations or closures like the ones during the pandemic.

“We’re really entering, in my opinion, more of an endemic type,” Richardson said. “Basically, it’s pretty common to say, ‘oh, so-and-so’s got the flu.’ We’re going to get to the point where, ‘oh, so-and-so’s got COVID.”

“What used to be flu season is now known as a respiratory season,” Watts said.

The FDA approved a new COVID vaccine to tackle the latest strain in people 12-and-up. It’s still not readily available among all area hospitals.

As flu cases are soon to be on the rise, COVID cases may follow, so Richardson advises people to prepare.

“I would urge people to get the influenza vaccine for sure,” he said. “They are becoming available, we should have ours very shortly.”