Health officials urging South Carolinians to continue steps to avoid spreading COVID-19

Updated: Apr. 2, 2021 at 4:22 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - With Easter just days away, health officials are urging South Carolinians who get together with their loved ones this weekend to continue taking steps to avoid spreading COVID-19.

During a briefing Friday afternoon, DHEC’s Interim Public Health Director Dr. Brannon Traxler said the growing number of people getting vaccinated makes small family gatherings more feasible than other recent holidays, but still urged caution.

For those traveling, she said people should follow the latest CDC guidelines, which were updated Friday to say that fully vaccinated people – those who are two weeks past their final dose – don’t need to quarantine when they get home or be tested if they’re not showing symptoms. People who are fully vaccinated can also get together indoors without masks and social distancing with unvaccinated people from one household unless someone is at a higher risk.

Traxler said she hasn’t seen a surge in new COVID cases in the state and that the numbers appear to have plateaued but stressed now isn’t the time to let up.

“I know we’re all very eager to get together with all of our loved ones again and that certainly can be done to some extent more so than with previous holidays here recently, but still be smart, be careful and follow the guidance the CDC and we have on our web pages so that we can continue to increase activities and gatherings for holidays as more and more people get vaccinated,” Traxler said.

Days after the state opened vaccinations up to 16- and 17-year-olds, DHEC does not have data on how many teens got the vaccine. While some areas have seen increased demand following Wednesday’s move to the latest vaccination phase, others have not, Traxler said.

Regarding the 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that had to be destroyed due to a manufacturing error, Traxler said the incident is an example of how vaccine availability can change quickly but added she doesn’t anticipate there being an effect on South Carolina at this point. It also shows corners aren’t being cut when it comes to safety and that quality control efforts work, she said.

On the subject of mask mandates, Traxler said there is no single threshold as to when they should be lifted. Instead, disease spread, infection rates and vaccination rates, among other factors, should be considered, she said.

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