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COVID-19 rate highest in Kershaw County as state numbers climb

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 7:48 PM EDT
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CAMDEN, S.C. (WIS) - As COVID-19 cases climb on a national and state level, DHEC data shows it’s locally spreading quickest in Kershaw County.

RELATED STORY | COVID cases continue to climb in SC: 1,212 new cases reported Friday

DHEC’s COVID-19 dashboard shows from July 1 through July 21, Kershaw County had a rate of 276.5 cases per 100,000 people.

That rate leads the Midlands, with Sumter County coming in second at 252.1 cases per 100,000 people. Richland County had 213.8 cases, while Lexington County had 247.

The total number of tallied cases in Kershaw County at that time was 184.

The consequences of those cases have been mixed. KershawHealth’s spokesperson said no one was available for an interview, but sent this statement:

“KershawHealth is concerned about the rise of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in our community in recent weeks. While we were without a single COVID-19 admission for over a month, today about 4% of our current patients are COVID-19 positive. Similarly, we are seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients receiving monoclonal antibody treatment at our outpatient infusion clinic.

The COVID-19 patients we are diagnosing and treating today, on average, are younger than the ones we cared for at the beginning of the pandemic, but no less ill. Most of the patients we are seeing who are hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. While, we have seen breakthrough illness in some vaccinated individuals, the majority of these cases have been milder with few requiring hospitalization.

The past year has proven that KershawHealth’s team of physicians and staff is highly skilled at managing and treating infectious disease, but prevention of COVID-19 is key, and our best defense continues to be the vaccine. We encourage everyone to get vaccinated to help protect yourself, your loved ones and our community against this dangerous virus.”

Kershaw County EMS Director Gerald Blanchard echoed the observation that his teams are responding to calls from younger and unvaccinated patients.

He said the number of confirmed COVID-19 calls in the last two weeks is less than 10, but there have been “dozens” of calls of patients with COVID-19 symptoms.

“It not going anywhere, it’s going to be around for quite a while, and we have to find a way to stay vigilant in protecting ourselves, protecting our families,” he said.

Blanchard alluded to the July 4th Holiday and a stagnant vaccination rate as potential factors in the spread. DHEC data shows just under 43 percent of eligible Kershaw County residents are fully vaccinated.

“I think this is kind of like the new normal. You have a holiday, people get together, you’re talking about only 40 percent of the population that’s vaccinated, or in that range, so you’re going to see those spikes in cases after a holiday,” he said.

The United Way of Kershaw County works to promote vaccinations in the homeless and underprivileged communities. President Donny Supplee said it’s been hard spreading the message if people haven’t been personally impacted.

“If you’re not going to do it for yourself, do it for your neighbor, do it for your neighbor, do it for your kids,” he said.

Since the pandemic began, 140 Kershaw County residents have died from COVID-19.

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