CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Nearly 600 new COVID-19 cases were reported by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control on Friday. State health officials detailed 314 confirmed cases, 245 new probable cases, and five new deaths.
The increase comes as all 50 U.S. states are being impacted by the delta variant. Lowcountry physicians say their concern for another surge is growing.
This time last year, hospitals in the Greater Charleston Area were overrun with COVID-19 cases and patients, as Charleston was the COVID hot spot of the world.
On July 16, 2020, more than 1,800 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in South Carolina, and Charleston County was leading the state with 230 of those new cases.
On Friday, DHEC reported a nearly 50 percent increase in COVID-19 cases from the week.
Dr. Robert Oliverio with Roper St. Francis said similar to 2020, doctors feared an increase following the holiday weekend. He said, “as soon as Memorial Day came around and people started getting together, we knew cases were going to go up. We just didn’t know how much.”
But unlike 2020, the delta variant is now prevalent in the Lowcountry. The variant makes the virus faster, in more quantity, and is more infective than the original COVID-19 strain. Oliverio said that when coronavirus first came out, one person would infect maybe two to three people. However, with the delta variant, one person can infect up to six people, he said.
“We’re at that point, where we’ve quadrupled the number of COVID cases in the hospital,” he said, a fact that he said leaves the medical community to question whether the increase of cases will continue to the point of overwhelming the hospital systems and resources once again.
However, hope is up this time around with protocols, procedures, and a weapon we did not have last summer: a vaccine. The problem is, many are still hesitant.
“We know how to cohort patients, we know how to move patients around, but the big question is with the unvaccinated rate—we just don’t know how many of these people will get infected,” said Dr. Oliverio.
Dr. Oliverio explained that although we are far better off than we were last year, we must remain vigilant and encourage our friends and family to get vaccinated. He said, “I don’t think we are going to see what we saw last summer at this time. I mean it was horrible, I don’t think we are going to get there, but I do think we are going to see more and more cases as time goes on.”