CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Officials with Tidelands Health say hospitalizations they are seeing from COVID-19 dispels a myth that only elderly people become seriously ill from the coronavirus.
Since June 15, the hospital group says just over 50 percent of COVID-19-positive patients who are hospitalized at their facilities have been under age 65.
“Two weeks ago, we shared that we were seeing a higher positivity rate in young people tested for COVID-19,” Medical Affairs Vice President Dr. Gerald Harmon said. “Now, we’re seeing increasing hospitalizations of young and middle-age individuals.”
Patients under 65 have accounted for 50.5 percent of COVID-19-positive patients hospitalized at Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital and Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital since June 15, with 49.5 percent of those hospitalized 65 and older.
Among those under 65, 38 percent were ages 41-64, 10 percent were ages 26-40 and 2 percent were 25 and younger.
The numbers mark a change since the beginning of the pandemic, when nearly two-thirds of COVID-19 hospitalizations were among those 65 or older.
The group also reported “a dramatic increase” in COVID-19-related hospitalizations over the past three weeks. The number of COVID-19-positive patients rose from three on June 18 to 47 as of July 8 with an additional 10 awaiting test results.
The health system’s intensive care units are at 96% capacity and the y are bringing in supplemental nursing staff to help handle the increase in patients.
“Don’t believe this virus only affects the elderly – that’s not true,” Dr. Harmon said. “Don’t believe it’s just like the flu – that’s also not true.
Harmon said it is imperative that the community take steps now to protect themselves and slow the spread.
“We need the people of our region to recognize this threat and take it seriously,” he said. “Wear a mask, wash your hands, observe social distancing and avoid large gatherings. These simple steps will help you protect yourself, your loved ones and our community’s health care resources.”
Tidelands Health serves Williamsburg, Georgetown and Horry Counties.