Tri-county COVID case rate drops more than 60% from previous week

May 24, 2021
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“I think what we're likely to see across the country is a lot of optimism right now," says the leader of MUSC's COVID-19 tracking project as cases trend down. Pixabay

As the temperature outside rises, the COVID case rate is falling in the Tri-county area. Between May 17 and May 22, it dropped more than 60% compared with the previous week.

“I think what we're likely to see across the country is a lot of optimism right now,” said Michael Sweat, Ph.D., leader of the COVID-19 tracking team at the Medical University of South Carolina.

It’s easy to see why. “The number of cases per day for every 100,000 people in the Tri-county area went down to six,” Sweat said.

“We’ve seen similar effects in Florence and Lancaster. Florence is at six per 100,000 a day and Lancaster's down to seven.” Sweat’s team focuses on those areas because MUSC Health has hospitals in them.

 “Statewide, it's eight per 100,000. So it’s going down, down, down across the whole state.”

Dr. Michael Sweat 
Dr. Michael Sweat

More and more people are getting vaccinated, including kids as young as 12. Clinical trials will test whether children younger than that should get vaccinated, too.

At this point, more than 40% of South Carolinians age 12 and up have had at least one vaccine. About 35% are fully vaccinated.

And Sweat noted a geographic trend in vaccinations.Every county along the coast has the highest rate of vaccination in the state, literally any area that touches water.”

But he said about 34% of the people in South Carolina don’t have any immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19. They haven’t been vaccinated at all, and haven’t had COVID - or got sick so long ago that it’s unclear if they’re still immune.

Sweat encouraged anyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. All the vaccines work against the current variants in our area, and they’re more effective than natural immunity in people 65 and up. None of the vaccines contain live virus, so they can’t infect you with the coronavirus. The shots can cause side effects, but those should go away in a few days.

After all, it was just a year ago that we saw a summer surge in COVID cases. “It probably had to do with a lot of people moving around during the summer and getting together inside in air conditioning,” Sweat said.

“I would expect the same phenomenon might happen again, except there's just not that many people left who don't have any kind of immunity. You might see a mini surge among those people. I doubt it would be anything like before. But I could definitely envision these numbers might go up again.”

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