COVID-19 is still here, and the surging Omicron variant is still gaining steam.This reality is unpleasant, but as the numbers coming out of Lexington County right now show, it’s very much our …
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COVID-19 is still here, and the surging Omicron variant is still gaining steam.
This reality is unpleasant, but as the numbers coming out of Lexington County right now show, it’s very much our reality.
Through 12 days of January, the daily average of new COVID cases reported in the county was 4,198, according to state Department of Health and Environmental Control data. That’s more than double December’s daily average of 1,974. Those 12 days saw 197,546 new cases of COVID-19, more than double the 94,462 new cases posted through all 31 days of December.
In that time, the rate of positive tests was 30.4% in Lexington County, up from 12.1% in December.
Lexington Medical Center, which resumed reporting COVID numbers on Jan. 6, had coronavirus hospitalizations rise from 80 to 137 between that day and Jan. 17. In testing numbers posted by the hospital for days between Jan. 6 and 17, the rate of positive tests never dropped below 43%.
If you’re looking for proof that vaccinating against COVID makes a difference, look at Lexington Medical’s recent reports. Of the 137 patients hospitalized with the virus on Jan. 17, only nine were vaccinated with a booster, and only 33 were vaccinated without one. The remaining 95 were unvaccinated. Among patients in the ICU with COVID, only one patient was vaccinated and boosted, and four were vaccinated without one. The remaining 18 were unvaccinated.
If you can’t or won’t get vaccinated, consider wearing a mask. And even if you are vaccinated, you should still do it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that anyone older than 2 should wear a mask inside public places if they are not fully vaccinated, are fully vaccinated “and in an area with substantial or high transmission” (which every county in South Carolina is, according to CDC data), or are fully vaccinated and have a weakened immune system.
Outdoor mask-wearing is recommended in crowded settings in areas with high numbers of COVID cases (again, every county in South Carolina) and during activities that will put you in close contact with people who aren’t fully vaccinated.
And make sure you’re familiar with quarantine and isolation guidelines based on potential exposure to COVID or if you start to feel potential symptoms of the virus, and when to test based on these — info that’s readily available at scdhec.gov/covid19.
We don’t mean to scold those who aren’t yet vaccinated or boosted, or those who don’t yet follow the steps advocated here. That’s not going to win anybody over anyway.
And we respect the personal freedoms that are so deeply ingrained in the American spirit.
But after nearly two years, we’re exasperated with this pandemic, as we’re sure you are, too. And we urge everyone to work together, follow government advice, and hasten the arrival of our new normal.
This article is the opinion of the Chronicle editorial board. To comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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