DHEC urges South Carolinians to use ‘common sense’ this summer as COVID cases rise again

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Published: May. 27, 2022 at 6:49 PM EDT|Updated: May. 27, 2022 at 7:09 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Department of Health and Environmental Control is urging South Carolinians to use common sense as they head into a long weekend before Memorial Day.

COVID cases are on the rise in the state for the first time since the record surge this past winter, with the average number of reported cases per seven days in South Carolina nearly double what it was a month ago.

But state health leaders say, in reality, the actual number is higher than what is reported.

“With the advent of all these home testing kits — we encourage people to test at home because they’ll get an answer more quickly if they’ve been exposed or have symptoms that are consistent with COVID — but we know that those tests done at home that are positive, they don’t get reported to us,” Assistant State Epidemiologist Dr. Jane Kelly said.

According to DHEC’s latest figures, more than 7,000 COVID-19 cases were reported last week, about a 24% increase from the week before.

While that trend is curving upward, it is still much less severe at this point than what South Carolina experienced during the omicron surge over the past weekend, when upwards of 22,000 cases had been reported during peak days.

But Kelly said most experts believe there will be a rise in cases in the southeast this summer.

“Use common sense with regards to keeping yourself safe from COVID,” she said. “Outdoors is safer than indoors. If you have to be in a crowded, indoor setting for some reason — I don’t know, it’s Memorial Day Weekend and you’ve got to run to the store for something and it’s packed — that’s the time to consider wearing your mask.”

One group Kelly especially worries about heading into the summer are children.

DHEC data reveals among the 5-to-11-year-old age group, fewer than one in five kids are fully vaccinated at this point.

“What’s going to happen this summer as they’re mingling more at the pool? What’s going to happen as they’re visiting grandma? What’s going to happen when they return to school in the fall? So I would urge people, now is a great time to go ahead and get your child vaccinated as well,” Kelly said.

At this point, just over half of all South Carolinians who are eligible for the COVID shot — those who are 5 and older — are fully vaccinated.

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