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Data from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) shows that COVID-19 case numbers in the Upstate counties are continuing to rise at a steady rate, near or beyond previous spikes in the state. As cases in Pickens, Greenville and surrounding counties increase and other disease surveillance indicators trend upward, health officials warn the state may be entering a fall surge.

This uptick is not unique to South Carolina as cases are climbing nationally and in other countries. At the end of October, there were nearly 100,000 cases reported in one day in the United States, setting new daily case records. Several key indicators in South Carolina have trended upward since August, including:

•Daily rate of cases per 100,000

•Percent positive

•Hospitalizations due to COVID-19

•Number of COVID-19 patients on ventilators

“No one should lose sight of the power we each hold to help decrease deaths and illnesses from COVID-19 for all of us. We truly have an opportunity to take much better control of the spread of this virus,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist. “Wearing a mask in public and practicing physical distancing, consistently, would change the trajectory of our cases in South Carolina in a positive way, and it is my hope this happens very soon.”

The resurgence of cases and hospitalizations could have a profound impact on healthcare systems, the economy, and school and university operations. Public health experts are calling on residents to act now by rededicating themselves to the daily precautions that help prevent spread of this deadly virus.

“The increases in case counts, hospitalizations, and deaths across the nation is extremely concerning, and we must double down on our efforts in order to prevent a second wave in South Carolina,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC’s Interim Director of Public Health. “We understand that ‘COVID-19 fatigue’ is occurring and we’re all wishing for a return to normalcy. But think of our first responders, doctors and nurses, law enforcement officers, and essential workers who, although exhausted, keep working to keep us safe. We can’t give up.”

South Carolinians should commit to the daily actions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for protecting themselves and others from COVID-19, which include:

Consistent and correct use of masks;

Social distancing;

Routine testing;

Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette; and

Frequent cleaning and disinfection.

Additionally, it’s recommended that everyone six months and older get their flu shot, with experts stating this year’s flu shot could be “the most important flu shot of your life.” Contracting the flu and COVID-19 at the same time could likely cause more complications than if the flu were the sole infection. It’s also important to get a flu shot to prevent overwhelming hospitals, ICUs, and ventilators with both flu and COVID-19 patients.

While development of a COVID-19 vaccine continues, it’s anticipated that when a safe, approved vaccine is available it will be limited in quantity and initially administered to only certain high-risk groups. This means residents will need to continue to adhere to the same disease prevention measures currently recommended even when a vaccine becomes available. Visit scdhec.gov/covid19 for the latest COVID-19 information in South Carolina.