MUSC COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project Lancaster

COVID-19 Status Summary for the Lancaster metropolitan area (Lancaster and Chester Counties)

View information for the Florence area (Florence, Marion, Darlington, and Williamsburg Counties)

View information for the Charleston metropolitan area (Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester Counties)

View information for the Midlands area (Kershaw, Fairfield, and Richland Counties)

Updated 5/18/2022 | About This Project

Click here for a description of the Methods and Metrics:

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COVID-19 Variants Based on Genetic Sequencing Conducted by the MUSC Molecular Pathology Laboratory. 

   

Click here for the latest information on Covid-19 Variants of Interest:

 

MUSC COVID-19 Situation Assessment 

Click here for a description of the Methods and Metrics:

Metric Status for the week of May 17th
Weekly Change of Reported COVID-19 Infections
INCREASING: +13%
Trajectory of documented cases (Increasing or Decreasing)
RED
 Number of Reported COVID-19 cases in last week
RED: 116 new cases reported (May 8th - May 14th)
Diagnostic Availability Testing
GREEN
Return of Diagnostic Test Results
GREEN
Hospital Capacity to treat Critical Patients
GREEN
New Covid-19 Hospital Admissions per 100k population (7 day average) GREEN

Key Findings:

*Key Findings are based on results from May 8th - May 14th, 2022.

Vaccination, as well as booster (third) doses of an mRNA vaccine remain the most potent and durable way to protect yourself from COVID-19. Virtually all cases in the area are now from the Omicron variant. There are two versions of this variant, the original “BA.1” version, and a newer ”BA.2” version. Both Omicron variant versions are significantly more contagious as previous versions of the virus, especially the BA.2 version. Prior variants typically required several minutes of contact to transmit. With the Omicron variant transmission can occur in a few seconds of contact. People who are not vaccinated currently have an extremely high risk of catching and transmitting the Omicron variant to others.

Currently, there is adequate capacity to manage the case load of COVID-19 admissions in area hospitals.

Most undiagnosed people who are infected will not be aware they carry the virus and can infect others. The time between becoming infected and having symptoms averages 3 to 5-days, and this is a period when a person is typically highly infectious. The risk of infection from people with no symptoms, or mild symptoms, is the greatest single threat to members of the community. Do not assume that a lack of symptoms in people you encounter means that they cannot transmit the COVID-19 virus to you.

Across the majority of the United States the rate of cases of COVID-19 is now quite low. There remain a few isolated hotspots of high incidence, especially in the Northeast region of the U.S. This low level of infections follows a country-wide Omicron variant surge that occurred over the winter months. A newer version of the Omicron variant (Omicron BA.2) is now the most common, and it is even more transmissible than the early version (Omicron BA.1). Note that because infection rates are low now does not mean that we will not see future surges.

The community is advised to develop an evidence-based risk mitigation plan that is specific to personal risk. Be aware that many people mistakenly believe that they have been infected with COVID-19 earlier. Booster vaccination is one of the most effective ways to reduce risk of serious illness from COVID-19, and enhance protection significantly over only receiving the initial series of vaccination.

 

After vaccination it is important to continue to practice prevention practices. There are two well-known features of the vaccines for COVID-19: (1) they are not instantaneously effective and (2) one dose does not provide protection sufficient to allow immunized individuals to consider themselves immune from COVID, even after two weeks have elapsed. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 after getting immunized, it is still very possible that you acquired COVID-19, and you should self-isolate and immediately seek tested. If you have had your first vaccine dose, make sure to get your second one scheduled. If you have had two doses you should get a booster dose after 5-months of the two primary doses for Moderna and Pfizer, and 2-months for the J&J vaccine. A fourth dose of a booster vaccination has now been approved for Americans over 50 years of age. The FDA approved the 4th dose of vaccine but did not necessarily recommend it. If you are considering getting a 4th dose you may want to consult with your primary care provider to discuss the decision to take a 4th dose.

Scientific evidence is strong for the effectiveness of several risk mitigation behaviors: (1) wear a mask when around others, and avoid neck gaiters and vented masks, (2) keep a distance of no-less than 6-feet from others, more is better (3) avoid crowds, (4) wash hands frequently, (5) favor gathering with people outside over inside, and open windows (even a few inches helps) when feasible with others while inside, and (6) wear a mask and crack windows when you must travel with others in a vehicle.

There is strong evidence that transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 is occurring via aerosols. Aerosols are very small liquid particles that are breathed out when people speak, and they can float in the air like smoke for hours. Loud talking, singing, and heavy breathing from exercise generate a significant volume of aerosol particles. As a result, indoor gatherings are risky, especially when turnover of the air is infrequent. Aerosol transmission can occur at much greater distances than 6-feet. People should assume that there is no safe distance from others indoors in poorly ventilated rooms. Multiple high-quality studies have identified indoor visits to restaurants and bars as one of the most common modes of infection.

There are currently few delays in getting appointments for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, and results are being returned quickly. An exception is prior to holidays. If you plan to be tested prior to holidays be aware that delays in getting appointments and return of results may occur.  You can also search for a testing site located near you at this website (South Carolina DHEC website). 

COVID-19 Projections for South Carolina

Modeling from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) shows projections for South Carolina.