COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - For months, state and federal health officials have been warning people we are due for dark winter in the fight against COVID-19. Now, experts say the worst is here.
With hospitals filling up and the state’s percent positive reaching more than 30% multiple times in recent days, epidemiologists, doctors, and even members of our armed forces say we are now in the beginning days of a dangerous coronavirus surge.
“We knew we were heading into a winter surge. and we knew there was going to be a critical point in time. And now is that critical point in time, in my opinion,” SC National Guard Major General Brad Owens said.
Owen’s team is in charge of assisting the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Emergency Management Division with the state’s response to COVID-19. He says his men and women have been working for more than 300 days in a variety of roles from assisting at testing sites, in hospitals, and within the Department of Corrections to help state agencies. However, he is looking forward to the day when the SC National Guard can solely concentrate on administering the vaccine.
“Hopefully in a few weeks, once the state contracts are in place, we can ship back out of the hospitals and focus in on the vaccination,” he said.
For now, Maj. Gen. Owens said they are embracing their ability to be flexible and meet the state’s demands and proud to help meet the increased demand for frontline clinicians.
Pediatrician Dr. Deborah Greenhouse said it’s not just hospitals that are strained by this surge, the spike in cases is making her own practice busier than ever.
“We are seeing more COVID illness than we have seen in the past,” Dr. Greenhouse said. “We are certainly seeing more parents with COVID illness than we had seen in the past. I do think we have hit that post-Christmas gathering surge at this point,” she added.
Greenhouse said many of her patients testing positive for coronavirus traveled over the holidays, but there is also a lot of community spread of the virus causing new infections.
“It’s a tough scenario for everyone to stay safe without taking a whole lot of precautions at this point,” she said.
She explained she is seeing some of her patients make the mistake of getting a COVID-19 test the day after being exposed to someone who has the virus. Greenhouse said by taking a test too early, patients risk appearing negative and then spreading the virus to others just a couple of days later. She said people should quarantine if they were exposed to someone with COVID-19 and should get tested about five days after exposure.