Health experts fear spike in COVID-19 cases following Thanksgiving, warn of 2nd wave in SC

Updated: Nov. 27, 2020 at 6:25 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - On Friday, the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,777 new cases of COVID-19 and 28 new confirmed deaths.

It brings South Carolina’s totals to more than 4,000 deaths and just under 200,000 cases since the COVID-19 outbreak began in March.

With many families hosting a Thanksgiving meal in the Midlands or traveling to be with family for the Thanksgiving holiday, health experts are warning that South Carolina might see another spike in the coming weeks.

UofSC Arnold School of Public Health Chair of Epidemiology and Biostatistics Dr. Anthony Alberg said South Carolina is most likely just entering the second wave of the virus, and he’s concerned what the outbreak might look like in the state over the next few weeks in the wake of people traveling and spending time with family for Thanksgiving in the next few months as the winter progresses.

The number of cases, hospitalization rate, and the percent positive are all things health experts use to track the COVID-19 outbreak, and Alberg said all of those numbers here in South Carolina are headed in the wrong direction.

“We are on an upward trend and the worst is very likely yet to come for us here in South Carolina, worse than we saw in July,” Alberg said.

This warning comes as DHEC has reported South Carolina having over 1,000 COVID-19 cases every day this past week, with over 1,500 cases three of the days. They report the percent positive as of Thursday at 12.3% and that 884 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19.

“This is a measure of disease transmission in the community, and everything is pointing in the same direction,” Alberg said. “These are not artifacts. These are very real numbers showing a concerning trend.”

The level of disease activity in each county also remains at a high level for almost every county in the Midlands, with the exception of Lee and Calhoun counties at medium disease activity.

Alberg said he worries the holiday will only further the spike that South Carolina is currently seeing.

“As the weather gets colder here, as there is increased congregate settings as for example might have happened with families on Thanksgiving, we will really start to see the big surge in cases,” Alberg said. “Again, that’s very concerning because we’ve already been increasing.”

Alberg predicts South Carolina is entering the second wave that other states in the Northeast and Northwest have been experiencing for the last few months as colder weather approaches.

“This is the time to be increasingly vigilant because we went through a really bad time in the summer. In July, we were peaking here in South Carolina and we may see a surge much worse than that if we’re not careful,” Alberg said.

Alberg said that it will probably be about two weeks before the number of cases reflects whether or not South Carolina is going to see a spike from Thanksgiving festivities and added that even though the vaccine developments are exciting, the general population is still looking at least four months until that becomes widely available, which leaves South Carolina vulnerable to the second wave of the virus from now until the end of the winter.

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