As SC’s COVID numbers improve, young people try to live in the moment

As SC’s COVID numbers improve, young people try to live in the moment

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Two key indicators of how South Carolina is doing in the fight against COVID-19 are trending downward.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says daily deaths and hospitalizations have been cut nearly in half since January and February.

But public health leaders say that does not mean it’s time to change anything in our day-to-day lives.

College of Charleston freshman Eva Voros says after she contracted COVID-19 in November, she still has intense fatigue and brain fog. She is taking two classes and says she isn’t doing that well.

But last semester, before she came down with the disease, she was taking twice as many classes and was almost making straight As.

While she still fights exhaustion, she admits she is also thinking about her plans for the weekend.

“There is definitely this attitude, ‘Well, everyone is doing it so why shouldn’t I?’ so I think it is a really easy way to kind of escape that place where you are, just completely by yourself,” she said. “You are alone with your thoughts. If you have a mental illness like depression or anxiety, you are really are stuck with that and going out is a complete release from that. Even if you don’t drink or don’t use drugs, going out can be a drug in itself.”

That thought process, however, is what public health experts say could make our state’s COVID-19 trends go in the wrong direction.

“While we definitely are seeing a decrease in the number of cases, number of hospitalizations, and the number of deaths, there is a potential concern for a surge that can happen either from people traveling during holiday seasons and not getting vaccinated or not following public health measures,” DHEC physician Dr. Jonathan Knoche said.

Voros said while she is patiently waiting for her turn to get vaccinated, most of her friends are waiting to see what the long-term impacts of the shot before making an appointment.

She says on her social media feeds, there are posts making claims about the virus that she knows aren’t true but still get shared a lot.

“[There are] memes or videos of people who get the vaccine and turn into a weird alien,” she said. “I’m not sure everyone takes it seriously, but there is something to be said about people seeing all these different opinions online and being able to just tone that out and think about what reality is and what science is.”

She says the work of having to separate the fact from the fiction in addition to overcoming a distrust in government and authority is a lot for her friends, leading them to focus on the here and now.

“You know it’s a living in the moment kind of thing like we are young, we might as well go out. If we do get the virus it won’t be that bad, if we got it we won’t get it again. I think there is not a concern,” Voros said.

Dr. Knoche said he is seeing a decline in cases among people who live in close proximity to each other, like in nursing homes or prisons, but South Carolinians are still contracting the virus when then socialize.

“Anytime we are seeing gatherings whether that’s familial or social gatherings or larger social friends getting together that’s where we see transmission happening,” he said.

According to DHEC, while the average age of death from COVID-19 has dropped slightly from the mid-to-high 70s down to the low 70s, it has remained fairly consistent since the pandemic began.

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