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SC hospitals more full now than earlier in the pandemic

Since the beginning of September, 15 percent of new COVID-19 cases were among kids ages 10 or...
Since the beginning of September, 15 percent of new COVID-19 cases were among kids ages 10 or younger. According to DHEC data from Sept. 6, of the nearly 3,000 new COVID-19 cases reported, 362 were that age.(Live 5 News)
Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 8:45 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2021 at 8:51 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - Since the beginning of September, 15 percent of new COVID-19 cases were among kids ages 10 or younger. According to DHEC data from Sept. 6, of the nearly 3,000 new COVID-19 cases reported, 362 were that age.

Health experts say this increase in coronavirus cases among children is correlating to an increase in hospitalizations.

‘This is now our most vulnerable population,” said Prisma Health Midlands Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Rick Scott. “Kids under 12 don’t have access to vaccination. And sadly, in the 12 to 18 age, many haven’t availed themselves to it for multiple reasons.”

There are nine kids on ventilators with COVID-19 in South Carolina, a record high, according to the SC Children’s Hospital Collaborative. “That nine children, who at no fault received this virus, is nine too many,” said SCHA Chief Operating Officer Melanie Matney.

Matney said while pediatric ICUs are filling up with COVID patients and young people with other illnesses, the same is happening at ICUs for adults.

More than 85 percent of the staffed ICU beds in South Carolina are full, according to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. HHS also reports that 43 percent of those are COVID patients.

However, some hospitals are even worse off. Matney said out of the 65 hospitals with ICU beds, 24 rate at 90 percent occupancy or above.

“We are significantly short-staffed. We are significantly full. We have a lot of people coming into the hospitals that need help. And what that means is you can have significant wait times,” Matney said.

From rescheduling of elective surgeries to disruptions in regular care, Matney explained that what happens in the hospital can impact everybody.

Thankfully, Scott said his hospital system isn’t being forced to make difficult decisions yet regarding who gets an ICU bed and who doesn’t, but the current trends are concerning.

“We need a plateau soon,” Scott said. “We are seeing a surge in cases we haven’t seen since January, as a system we exceeded our January height.”

Matney said these repeated surges are hurting the morale of South Carolina healthcare workers at a time when hospitals are short-staffed.

“The amount of death coming out of the hospitals because of COVID that is preventable is very difficult emotionally for our health care workers who have been in this fight for so long,” she said.

The key to staying safe and keeping hospitals below capacity is getting vaccinated, Scott and Matney said.

For example, according to data from Lexington Medical Center, 169 people were hospitalized with COVID across their hospital as of Wednesday. However, 152 of them are unvaccinated.

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