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COVID-19 cases increasing in South Carolina following new variant

DHEC medical consultant says the variant appears more transmissible.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Doctors are taking note of a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases following a new variant.

DHEC medical consultant Dr. Jonathan Knoche says a new variant of omicron known as EG.5 is increasing COVID-19 cases across the country in South Carolina. 

According to DHEC, a month ago the state saw 74 hospitalizations from COVID-19 now,  that number has increased to 107.

"It looks like it's more transmissible. It doesn't look at this point that the severity of illness is any worse but it's causing more infections and we're starting to see a little bit more activity in the emergency departments." he says.

Knoche explained one school in South Carolina is already feeling Covid woes with the breakout occurring inside a 3rd grade classroom.  He declined to name the school or district but says five students tested positive.

"Really in the last month, we've seen the rates of Covid in pre-K kids, elementary ages, middle [and] high school kids kind of double in the last month. I would say the numbers are overall lower than they have been in the past but-pre-K kids that are under the age of five, less than 3% of them have completed their vaccine in South Carolina so that's the group that we're seeing increase the most right now." Knoche claims.

He says there is another vaccine in production expected to roll out in September and he adds basic safety steps can protect you and your family.

Knoche says, "Practice good hand hygiene, cover your cough, don't go to work or school if you're feeling sick." 

For Julia Iredale and her friend Emma Whistler, hearing the news about the increase in cases doesn't come as a surprise, but does have them focusing on staying safe before classes start in the fall.

"I'm not surprised because I feel like there's always something going around," Iredale says. Whistler adds, "I'm used to it, I won't be surprised when they tell us we need to get another vaccine."

Dr. Knoche adds that parents should also be on the lookout for a new RSV vaccine that was just approved by the CDC and FDA. He says those should be available for children here sometime in the next few months.

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