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Prisma Health warning of increased COVID-19 hospitalizations

Doctors at the South Carolina hospital system are urging the public to get vaccinated and wear masks again to limit the spread.

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.

Credit: Prisma Health
Prisma Health COVID-19 hospitalization trends

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.

RELATED: Where to find free COVID-19 vaccines in Columbia in August

“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.

RELATED: Cuomo: All state workers must get COVID-19 vaccine or face regular testing, effective Labor Day

“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.

RELATED: CDC reverses course on indoor masks in parts of US where COVID is surging

“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.