NOT OVER YET: DHEC official continues to call for more people to get vaccinated as well as booster shots to end pandemic

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — According to the CDC, national COVID-19 case trends are going in the right direction as fewer are reported each day.

For some states, a peak in the latest surge in the pandemic has yet to happen.

Updated COVID case numbers and deaths have not been reported by DHEC over the past several days. This is because of a processing delay due to too much testing data for the software to handle.

“DHEC’s data processing issue that caused a delay in date reports from January 20th through 25th has been resolved. We are now able to provide most of that provisional backlog data in today’s release,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC public health director.

Wednesday, DHEC reported more than 4,000 new cases and 19 new deaths due to COVID-19. It did not list the positivity rate but Dr. Traxler says that trends rather than daily reports should be taken into consideration.

“Those trends tell us that cases are still incredibly high right now, largely due to the omicron variant,” she said. “Our guidance remains the same. We need more people to get vaccinated, boosted, wear a mask and get tested at the recommended times.”

While cases are still increasing, she says they are increasing at a slower rate. However, there is one trend that does have her concerned.

“We have unfortunately seen a decrease in booster shots in the last several weeks. Some of that could be due to the holiday season we got through and folks prioritizing other events,” said Dr. Traxler. “Others simply may be holding off or are hesitant to get that additional shot because they’ve been made to believe the initial vaccine series was not effective.”

She reminds people that while the vaccine is effective, all vaccines lose effectiveness over time and that getting a booster is your best defense especially as new mutations of the virus such as the BA.2 subvariant are discovered.

“It does have some different mutations than the original omicron has,” Traxler said. “It remains to be seen how it will behave in comparison to the original omicron.”

South Carolina has hovered at 52 percent of those eligible fully vaccinated and Dr. Traxler says this must increase if the pandemic is to ever end. 

“While we understand that everyone is fatigued and ready to get back to normal, we must accept there are things we must do as a unit to get back to a state of normalcy,” she concludes.

Categories: Local News, Richland