SC “has not yet crossed the cap” of the COVID outbreak, health department. said

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) – The Assistant South Carolina State Epidemiologist has said she does not yet believe South Carolina has “passed the corner” during the latest wave of COVID-19.

Dr Jean Kelly responded to a question about the rapid decline in the number of cases after a large spike.

“Well, although luckily the number of daily cases has declined recently, I wouldn’t say we have taken that step yet,” she said. “Cases can certainly fluctuate at any time and we may experience an increase again.”

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Kelly said earlier this year that many believed we had reached a milestone mainly because of a big increase in vaccinations.

“I think we’re going to have to revisit this if we’re really going to take a step forward and beat this pandemic, increasing vaccinations and masking are the keys to beating COVID-19,” Kelly said. “Plus, we just enjoyed a long holiday weekend, Labor Day. Some people were out and about not being tested on those days while enjoying the holidays. Thus, any gathering of vulnerable populations can increase the number of cases. “

But she said any rally that may have affected new cases might not be seen until 14 days after the event.

“So we must remain vigilant as we continue to fight against COVID-19 cuts and all forms,” she said.

Kelly: “We also have a disinformation pandemic”

Kelly said health workers are not only battling the virus that causes COVID-19, but also the rapid spread of false information.

“Unfortunately, people don’t necessarily know the difference between a credible news source and things that get posted on social media and then seem to spread like wildfire,” she said. “They spread like a mythology. They are spreading misinformation.

Kelly responded to a question about a man who spoke at an Aiken County School District meeting. He claimed to be the grandfather of four students in the district and argued that the pandemic was “fake” and that the vaccines are in fact a kind of “gene therapy,” which health experts have always denied.

The reporter who asked the question added that despite the deaths of five students and teachers in the same week, the same man returned to the meeting on Tuesday evening and called for an end to what he called “fear of fear “about COVID-19.

“It’s just a little disheartening that five deaths are not a wake-up call,” Kelly said.

DHEC to release new weekly data on COVID-19 in schools

Kelly also announced that DHEC has updated its online school COVID-19 dashboard where it is posting the latest data on the pandemic in schools.

As of Wednesday, the old dashboard would be archived and replaced, she said. The new report will be updated once a week and will include data provided directly by K-12 schools.

The report will include the number of students and school staff who are isolated, meaning this is a positive case of COVID-19; the number of people quarantined, which means that these are close contacts; and the cumulative number of individuals quarantined and isolated since the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

Kelly said DHEC decided to make the switch for several reasons.

“First, the isolation and quarantine figures provided directly by schools show a better real-time picture of the impact of COVID on our schools,” she said. “Plus, school districts are already reporting cases for the public to see. This will eliminate any confusion that may result between their case numbers and DHEC case numbers, due to the different methods of identifying cases, and it allows the DHEC to focus on a scale perspective. state, while individual school districts provide their local case numbers.

The new dashboard will be updated every Wednesday, she said.

The Pfizer version of the COVID-19 vaccine could be approved for use in children 5 to 12 years old as early as Halloween. When the vaccine for young children is approved, Kelly said DHEC will work immediately to ensure the state has enough doses to meet what they hope will be “high demand” for the vaccine.

DHEC has already partnered with schools and school districts to vaccinate children over 12 and Kelly said it would likely happen again for younger ones.

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