MUSC officials say Tri-County is in a ‘code red situation’ with COVID

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 5:41 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2021 at 6:47 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Officials with the Medical University of South Carolina say the Tri-county is in a “code red situation” with COVID as medical officials say the virus’ impact in the Charleston area has gone from “significant” to “severe” in the latest update by the healthcare networks’ COVID-19 tracking data.

“It’s worse than I thought. We’re in a code red situation,” said Dr. Michael Sweat, team leader of the COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project. “I worry that people aren’t realizing this is happening. My current impression is that most of them aren’t really tuned in that much to the sudden change we’ve had. It happened so quickly — within a matter of a week or so, it just took off like a rocket.”

According to MUSC, cases in the Tri-county area which includes Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties, hit 2,951 for the week that ended Aug. 3. Health officials said the week before, it was 1,230 which is a 140% increase.

“Dorchester County has the highest rate in the state right now, growing rapidly. It’s also driving our numbers up in the Tri-county. I think there’s geographic patterns that go on. Maybe Dorchester’s a little different with vaccination, but I think it’s just like you see all over — it gets into a county, and then people start interacting, and it’s spreading through networks in those counties,” Sweat said.

According to Sweat, the increase is probably due to the Delta virus primarily. Sweat estimated that 28% of South Carolinians have been infected with the coronavirus, which continues to mutate. About half of the state’s residents have had at least one shot and about 44% are fully vaccinated, according to MUSC.

But even the fully vaccinated may need to be careful, Sweat said.

“We’re getting signals that a fair number of breakthroughs are happening,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says no vaccines are 100% effective, but the COVID vaccines are a key way to get the pandemic under control, keep people out of the hospital and save lives, MUSC officials said.

Sweat said there’s no question that the COVID vaccines are very effective at preventing hospitalization and death.

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