State health officials confirm 4 cases of COVID-19 Delta variant in SC
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has confirmed four cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant have been detected in South Carolina.
Formerly known as the Indian variant, the highly transmissible B.1.617.2 or Delta variant has health officials concerned. Dr. Kent Stock is an infectious disease physician at Roper St. Francis Healthcare and he says it’s bad news.
“It appears to be about 40-60% more transmissible than the UK variant and there was a recent study that suggested patients are two times more like to be hospitalized if infected with this variant,” Stock said. “There seems to be a higher percentage of individuals who get severe GI symptoms. There are even unusual symptoms like hearing loss, gangrene and even, in some cases, increased risk of blood clots.”
Stock says the variant has likely been here for a while, we just haven’t been testing for it. He says that could be a particular problem for southern states.
“What is giving people great pause is that in the southwestern United States a week ago, 2% of all new infections involved the Delta variant, within a week that is now 10%,” Stock said. “The issue of course is that 8 of the 10 states in the country with the lowest vaccination rates are in the South.”
The strain has been detected in more than 70 countries. Initial studies have shown the mRNA vaccines like the Moderna and Pfizer are effective against it. This is why the White House is pushing hard to achieve heard immunity. White House vaccinations coordinator Dr. Bechara Choucair says they are working to make getting a vaccine as easy as possible.
“We are extending hours in pharmacies. We are having more mobile and pop ups clinics,” Choucair said. “The vice president is actually in Greenville today with two bus stops today through the bus tour to make sure we are energizing more people to get vaccinated.”
However, with less than 40 percent of South Carolinians vaccinated, Stock says the pandemic is not over.
“Public health officials, infectious disease experts are really paying attention to the summer,” Stock said. “As you know we have relaxed most of our mitigation standards, vaccine administration has dropped off significantly, especially in this state. They are speculating that in July we may see a slight increase in infections in this state.”
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