SUMTER, S.C. — Hospitals across The Midlands are beginning to reach capacity as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
In Sumter, leaders with Prisma Health Tuomey say they've seen a spike in cases over the last couple of weeks.
Just months ago, they were breathing a sign of relief as COVID-related hospitalizations fell.
But now, they say the surge has returned, with the intensive care unit (ICU) nearing capacity.
“We are clearly seeing the surge at Prisma Health Tuomey," Infectious Disease Doctor Pat Tingpej said. "Last month... we have zero to three patients in the hospital at a time. Today, as of this morning, we have total of 26.”
According to Dr. Tingpej, most patients in their ICU are unvaccinated and younger than before.
"Folks from 20s, 30s and 40s that are being admitted and they can be as sick as last summer and last winter," Tingpej said.
At least three of their hospitalized patients are fully vaccinated and are considered breakthrough cases.
According to data from the State Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), Sumter County, like much of the state, has a high transmission rate of the virus with many still unvaccinated.
The more easily spread Delta coronavirus variant is sparking a new wave of cases across the country with the impact being felt by healthcare workers.
"It’s hard; it tends to be emotional as well. All the healthcare workers that were dealing with this last year," Tingpej said. "Somewhat disappoint because I think that these can be avoidable and preventable.... If you’re not vaccinated, I think this is the time…. It’s one of the really good ways for all of us to come out of this and we don’t have to go through this painfully.”
While cases are rising, Dr. Tingpej said more people have been showing up to get the vaccine.