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‘There will likely never be zero COVID cases,’ SC health director says

State health officials focusing on living with ‘new normal’ with COVID
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control will hold its weekly briefing...
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control will hold its weekly briefing at noon Wednesday.(Drew Aunkst)
Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 11:56 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 23, 2022 at 6:00 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s public health director said it is time to shift our mentality for a “new normal” with COVID-19.

Dr. Brannon Traxler said during a weekly COVID briefing Wednesday that COVID is, unfortunately, “here to stay.”

“Like the flu or many other viruses or germs, there will likely never be zero cases of COVID-19 in the world,” she said. “As a public health agency, our goal is figuring out how to bring cases and hospitalizations and deaths down to a level that allows us to live our normal lives with very little interruption.”

She said all South Carolinians should “act responsibly” and accept their role in making the adjustment to an “endemic” from a “pandemic.”

“That means do get tested when it’s recommended,” she said. “Take advantage of the resources that are available.”

She said free rapid antigen test kits are available at most DHEC health departments across the state. The agency’s online test locator provides a realtime snapshot of which of those health departments have them in stock.

In addition, COVID tests.gov is still offering those free tests by mail for each household, she said.

“When we remove all of our differences and politics and every other factor and focus on just what’s in front of us, I think we can all agree on two things: None of us asked for this pandemic, and we would all love to see it go away,” she said. “We have a roadmap to achieve that goal. It is up to every individual to accept the reality and do their part with cases and hospitalizations on the decline in testing and vaccines readily available. Now is the opportune time to come together and finish this job.”

The agency’s weekly briefings typically take place at 2 p.m., but there was no immediate explanation as to the reason for the earlier scheduling.

The state released four days of COVID data Tuesday since it did not release any numbers Monday because of Presidents Day. The total number of new cases in that report was 4,627, a dramatic drop from just one month earlier. A four-day total reported on Jan. 25 showed more than 68,000 cases.

DHEC reported a total of 68 deaths over the four days, with 11 deaths in Lowcountry counties.

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