COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina hospitals are once again reaching their limits due to an influx of COVID-19 patients. Dozens of hospitals are over 90% full and healthcare workers are frustrated as many of the deaths they’ve seen were preventable.
Crowds formed at sporting events over the weekend while hospitals are dealing with crowds of their own.
“The number of hospitals today that are at or above 90% capacity is 32, in their general acute care beds. And we also have 27 hospitals that are at or over 90% capacity in the ICUs. Those are record-setting numbers for the beginning of a week,” explained Melanie Matney, COO of the South Carolina Hospital Association.
She said that many hospitals are struggling with high numbers of patients and low numbers of staffing.
“Most hospitals have beds available in their hospitals, they just don't have the staff to staff them," Matney said. "You'll see some hospitals are over 100% capacity, that's because they are surging internally and creating additional space.”
Meanwhile, people are attending events without masks or social distancing, and the majority of South Carolinians are not vaccinated.
“It really truly is the unvaccinated who are driving this surge, and it's very difficult emotionally. It's tough, not only on the patients' families, but it's also really tough on healthcare workers who don't necessarily go through this amount of death all the time. And to know that it's preventable, is what makes this so difficult," Matney said.
According to DHEC, 84% of hospital beds in Lexington County are filled. Orangeburg County hospitals are 79% full and Kershaw County is the highest in the Midlands at 91% full.
The latest data shows there are nearly 2,500 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in South Carolina. 568 are in the ICU.
Matney shared a grim reality: “we've had hospitals have to request morgue trailers.”
To deal with the surge in patients, Matney said hospitals are trying to hire more staff and are creating room for additional beds.
However she said what will ultimately help the situation is, "all of us need to get vaccinated.”