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COVID-19 spread is so high, South Carolina moves state from 'containment' to 'mitigation' phase

State health officials report too many cases to contact trace and acute care hospitals are nearing capacity.

SOUTH CAROLINA, USA — Coronavirus is so prevalent in South Carolina, state health officials report it is impossible to contact trace each case to contain the spread.

This week, South Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services announced public health efforts in the Palmetto State would be shifting from "containment" to "mitigation."

"How much virus is out there is just so much that the contact tracing alone is not going to help control it," said Dr. Brannon Traxler, SCDHEC's Interim Public Health Director. "So it really comes down to communities and people helping take extra actions to protect themselves and others."

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While there has been no indication, there will be additional statewide restrictions or measures, state health officials are calling on South Carolinians to double-down on COVID-safety protocols like wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing.

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The Palmetto State has been reporting its highest levels of daily cases, percent positive tests, and COVID-related hospitalizations.

Nearly one-third of coronavirus tests done in the state detect infection, and COVID patient counts currently top 2,400.

SCDHEC officials report that acute care hospitals across the state are nearing capacity and emergency departments are becoming "overwhelmed."

The agency also states that many hospitals have also begun canceling elective services to deal with the spike in patients.

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Meantime, South Carolina has begun ramping up its vaccine administration efforts. However, health officials warn that widespread vaccine availability will not come fast enough to tackle the current spike.

"Until the COVID-19 vaccines become more readily available and enough people are vaccinated, we must all act now or continue to face unprecedented numbers of cases that are overwhelming our hospitals and healthcare systems, as well as taking the lives of those we love," said Dr. Traxler. "To do that, every one of us must recommit to the fight. We are all on the frontlines. If we don’t act now, we could face many dark months ahead."