COLUMBIA, S.C. — Top doctors at Prisma Health shared their concerns over rising COVID-19 cases and dwindling vaccinations Wednesday. During a media call, they said their hospitals are seeing more unvaccinated patients sick with the virus.
“On June 30 we had only 11 COVID-19 patients across the whole Prisma Health system. Yesterday, we had 102 and today it’s 111,” said Dr. Rick Scott, Chair of Prisma Health's vaccination task force.
A concerning trend hospitals are seeing across South Carolina and the country: Prisma Health is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 patients. Doctors say over 90% of them are unvaccinated. They’re strongly urging people to get the shot.
“There is virtually no valid reason for somebody not to get the vaccine," said Infectious Disease Physician Dr. Helmut Albrecht. "Most of these have been debunked or you’re afraid of something that’s less common than being struck by lightning twice when there’s a disease that is really threatening and real.”
The hospital system has ramped up vaccination efforts over the past few months to try to limit the spread. They’ve held vaccine clinics with their mobile units at sporting events and Soda City Market.
Dr. Scott said they're also expanding the vaccine to more doctor’s offices:
“This week even more of our physician offices will have vaccinations available as there’s still a considerable amount of supply we were given in April, but that supply will begin to expire later in the summer and fall so we’re hoping to use that up.”
Due to the rise in cases and hospitalizations, the CDC has issued new recommendations on mask wearing.
“We now have new guidelines since yesterday recommending masking in indoor public spaces and areas with high disease activity,” Albrecht said.
That includes people that are fully vaccinated.
Albrecht explained that they “ask folks to wear masks not to protect themselves, but to not spread the disease to others.”
When asked if vaccinated individuals were being asked to protect the unvaccinated, his answer was yes.
“It does not mean that vaccines don’t work as well," said Albrecht. "They’re actually extraordinarily affective even for Delta. It also doesn’t mean that we change our mind all the time or flip flop as some of the press has said. We simply follow the CDC and DHEC, and they follow the numbers and the data."
Albrecht said the numbers are simply getting so bad that officials are doing what they can to mitigate the spread.