MUSC Health weekly COVID-19 report (May 17)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (May 17, 2021) – At MUSC Health, the safety of patients, families, care team members, students, faculty and staff remains the number one priority. The MUSC Public Affairs and Media Relations (PAMR) department issues regular COVID-19 updates on Monday of each week. If a federal or state holiday falls on a Monday, then a report will be issued the following day. Please read the report in its entirety; information can change quickly. 

The Path Forward / Recovery


MUSC Health has opened vaccine appointments to all eligible individuals as defined by SCDHEC. Eligible individuals can visit to make an appointmentwhile appointments are encouraged, walk-ins are now welcome at all MUSC COVID-19 vaccine clinic locations. View information and a video with directions on how to schedule a vaccination appointment. The community is encouraged to monitor for COVID-19 vaccine availability criteria, updates and FAQs. For more information related to public, community vaccination sites operated by MUSC Health throughout the state, please visit are encouraged, but walk-ins are welcome.

The federal government is currently providing the vaccine to MUSC for free, so there is no charge for the vaccine itself to either MUSC or the patient. MUSC will charge governmental payers (Medicaid/Medicare) and individual and employer-sponsored private health plans for the administration.  This helps cover costs associated with obtaining, storing, scheduling, and providing trained staff and supplies for vaccination administration. Patients should consult their insurance providers to determine what their company will or will not require them to pay for related to the administration of the vaccine.

The Department of Health and Human Services has provided a mechanism for providers to bill the COVID-19 Provider Relief fund for the cost of vaccine administration for uninsured patients. Uninsured patients will be able to receive the vaccine with no out of pocket cost.

The mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series consist of two doses administered intramuscularly:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech (30 µg, 0.3 ml each): 3 weeks (21 days) apart 
  • Moderna (100 µg, 0.5 ml): 1 month (28 days) apart 

Individuals should not be scheduled to receive the second dose earlier than recommended (i.e., 3 weeks [Pfizer-BioNTech] or 1 month [Moderna]). However, second doses administered within a grace period of 4 days earlier than the recommended date for the second dose are still considered valid. Doses inadvertently administered earlier than the grace period should not be repeated. The second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible. However, if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be scheduled for administration up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. For more information, visit this page.

  • Total number of COVID-19 vaccinations administered by MUSC Health: 245,725
    • 78.31% doses administered of supply received (accounts for extra doses found per vial)

MUSC Health COVID-19 Vaccination Expectation for all care team members

All MUSC Health leaders and care team members are now required to have the COVID-19 vaccine. Religious and medical exemptions may apply for some care team members. All new care team members should receive a single dose vaccine prior to starting work or the first dose of a two-dose vaccine prior to starting work. The second dose must be completed within three weeks as a condition of employment. 

Leaders had until April 30to complete a single dose vaccine or the first dose of a two-dose vaccine. As part of this phase 1 rollout of the new policy, 100% of MUSC Health system’s leaders adhered to the new COVID-19 vaccination policy and 97% have received the vaccine (3% of leaders submitted a religious or medical declination) as part of phase 1. 

All MUSC Health care team members are expected to receive the vaccine by June 15, unless an individual provides a religious or medical declination. 

MUSC Health has established this policy for the following reasons: 

1. The safety of our care team – While the number of COVID-19 cases is going down in most areas, we are dealing with variants across the world as well as people returning in large numbers to normal activities. Since the MUSC Health care team is a microcosm of the community, the likelihood of coming down with COVID-19 rises for all care team members. Vaccination is a very effective means of blunting the spread of variants and COVID-19 in general as public activities resume.

2. The safety of our patients – For similar reasons, as our care team becomes more at risk, patients will become more at risk. For us to optimize patient and care team member safety, we must have higher vaccination rates across MUSC Health. Additionally, we are seeing large numbers of patients NOT coming to health care facilities because of the lower vaccination rates. We must provide an environment where patients feel safe to receive care. Finally, we have been very locked down in the past year. Patients want family members to accompany them more often when they are staying with us. 

3. The safety of our patients’ family and visitors – Once again, as the risk rises for our care team and patients, it puts families and visitors at risk. High vaccination rates combat this risk. We are also looking at establishing a policy that family members and visitors be vaccinated. We are still evaluating this policy and will let you know more about it in the near future. 


Variants Dominate

“We’re in the world of variants of concern and variants of interest,” as MUSC finds variants make up 90% of coronavirus samples tested.

Tracking Immunity

As research shows natural immunity should be considered along with vaccine immunity, experts say shots give best possible protection against virus & variants.

The MUSC COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project is a digital dashboard that provides leading indicators related to the COVID-19 epidemic to enable informed decisions. Current situation assessments for MUSC Health – Charleston (Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties), MUSC Health Florence, and MUSC Health Lancaster divisions are available on this site. 


General information

General information

Information about testing options

MUSC Virtual Urgent Care

COVID-19 vaccination

MUSC COVID-19 mobile diagnostic testing 

MUSC Health, in partnership with the state legislature, is rotating mobile screening and collection sites in rural and underserved areas throughout the state, for both walk-up and drive-through patients. Prescreening is not required and there is no cost to patients. Patients will be contacted within two days with the results of their test, if not sooner. Patients are asked to bring photo identification and an insurance card if they have one. The CARES Act requires MUSC to bill insurance providers if patients do have insurance. Patients may email if they have questions regarding their results. If they do not have an email address, they may call 843-985-8888.

Sites may close early or operate with reduced hours if weather conditions become unsafe for care team members or if volume exceeds site safety capacity. 

NORTH CHARLESTON: The Charleston International Airport and MUSC Health have collaborated to offer a mobile COVID-19 diagnostic testing site. The site will open on Wednesday, May 19 Friday, May 21, Wednesday, May 26 and Friday, May 28 from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and is located on the 4th floor of the airport’s Daily Parking Garage, 5500 International Blvd., North Charleston, S.C. 29418. “Rapid’ nasopharyngeal swab testing is now available at this site, with results available via email within 30 minutes of the test. Information related to Healthy Me — Healthy SC free, statewide mobile testing sites for each week can be found here.

In reporting on these important developments for these local communities, individuals (elected officials, community leaders, city employees, etc.) and media outlets are asked to adhere to these basic rules while engaging with these locations during operational hours:

1. NO FILMING OR PHOTOGRAPHY INSIDE THE SITE while patients are present and during the stated “open” hours for any given site. This is to protect patient privacy. We also request that no real-time aerial, close-up/identifying or magnified lens use while patients are present.

2. We ask that every effort be made to follow all security protocols for the site. Those who cannot follow these protocols will be asked to leave the area. 

3. We ask that all MUSC Health team member interviews related to this topic take place when the site is not in operation (before opening, during an individual’s lunch break or after closing via phone or Zoom) so that the team can focus on safety, patient care and making sure that things run smoothly. All interviews should be coordinated through MUSC PR offices and are dependent on location and care team member availability. 

MUSC Health antibody testing

MUSC Health is offering voluntary COVID-19 serologic testing through Results will be available in MyChart within 48-72 hours. Testing is available at select locations in the Charleston, Florence, and Lancaster divisions and by appointment only.  Repeat testing, for those who test negative, will be offered no more than every 30 days for qualified candidates. The cost of the test will be billed to insurance carriers. Based on the recent CARES Act, insured patients will not have an outstanding balance for this test. It is important to make sure individuals and the media understand what the test results mean.

MUSC COVID-19 follow-up story ideas

New Mask Guidelines

The unmasking of vaccinated America is based on sound science, expert says. But it raises some tricky new issues.

Nurse of the Year

MUSC Health-Charleston's Nurse of the Year has been working with patients for 45 years but hasn't slowed down.

COVID-19 Antibodies

Hollings researchers find that asymptomatic individuals had stronger antibody responses to COVID-19 versus symptomatic patients.

Period Problems?

“My period comes 17 days early,” one woman reports. Another, 51, had her period for the first time in months. Are COVID vaccines the culprit?

Basic stats / COVID-19 positive cases 

Previously reported data points, such as the number of telehealth screenings, total number of specimens collected at various mobile sites, or the number of COVID-19 positive MUSC care team members are available upon request. Information related to vaccinations is at the top of this release.

  • Total number of COVID-19 community screening tests completed by MUSC Health-Charleston: 358,496

(MUSC Health system-wide: 419,995) 

  • Total Number of COVID-19 positive greater Charleston community screening tests: 29,575

(MUSC Health system-wide: 36,578) 

    • It is important to understand, and to avoid duplication in reporting, that these cases are reported to, and included in, the DHEC statewide COVID-19 numbers.
    • The majority of these individuals may not require hospitalization in a South Carolina hospital. 
  • Number of COVID-19 inpatients currently in the hospital (MUSC Health-Charleston): 9
    • MUSC Health monitors this number to determine that we have current and future capacity in terms of health care providers, supplies, ventilators and PPE. Please see the IHME graph here. These numbers are consistent with the modeling and expectation that MUSC Health will have appropriate resources to manage these patients. 
    • Of the 9 patients currently in the MUSC Health-Charleston location, 5 are in MUSC Health COVID-19 intensive care, with 2 of the 9 total inpatients currently receiving ventilator care for disease progression.

For specific information about MUSC Health Florence or Marion Medical Centers, please contact Kim Geiger at For information about MUSC Health Chester or Lancaster Medical Centers, please contact Ashley Shannon at


About MUSC 

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is home to the oldest medical school in the South as well as the state’s only integrated academic health sciences center, with a unique charge to serve the state through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and nearly 800 residents in six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. MUSC brought in more than $271 million in biomedical research funds in fiscal year 2020, continuing to lead the state in obtaining National Institutes of Health funding, with more than $129.9 million. For information on academic programs, visit

As the clinical health system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality patient care available while training generations of competent, compassionate health care providers to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Comprising some 1,600 beds, more than 100 outreach sites, the MUSC College of Medicine, the physicians’ practice plan and nearly 275 telehealth locations, MUSC Health owns and operates eight hospitals situated in Charleston, Chester, Florence, Lancaster and Marion counties. In 2020, for the sixth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit

MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of $3.2 billion. The more than 17,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers and scientists who deliver groundbreaking education, research, technology and patient care.