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Upstate hospital leaders plead with communities to take immediate steps as COVID-19 surges

DHEC reports COVID-19 infections have exceeded more than 1,000 for the 34th consecutive day ---- growing to 2,500 new cases each day for the past three days.

SOUTH CAROLINA, USA — DHEC says COVID-19 infections in the Upstate are skyrocketing and are spreading to other regions in South Carolina. 

Leaders at five Upstate hospitals are pleading with communities to take immediate measures to help them fight against the recent surge of COVID-19 cases.  

"It is essential for the public to step up and take responsibility," said Dr. Steve Shelton. "It's what they do or doesn't do in the coming days, will shape our health care system in the coming weeks."

DHEC reports COVID-19 infections have exceeded more than 1,000 for the 34th consecutive day ---- growing to 2,500 new cases each day for the past three days. Prisma Health reports more than 350 patients have been admitted into the hospital for COVID-19 reasons as of Monday. Hospital officials say those numbers are rapidly heading toward the wrong track.

"Currently, today, were 116 positive inpatients in our four hospitals in the Midlands," said Dr. Shelton. "That is an increase from the mid-70s we saw two weeks ago."

Not only are the COVID-19 cases are spiking, but hospitals are seeing the usual winter-time surge of patients suffering from respiratory illnesses. In a joint press release, Bon Secours Saint Francis' Chief Clinical Officer says:

"For the past several weeks, Greenville's COVID-19 trend has continued to head in the wrong direction. This recent surge is threatening to overwhelm our health care systems, both in capacity and treatment capability."

So far, DHEC reports more than 255,210 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 4,587 deaths.

RELATED: COVID-19 testing spikes ahead of Christmas holiday

Prisma Health received COVID-19 vaccines on December 15th. More COVID-19 vaccines are expecting to come to the health care system soon.

"Our primary focus right now is what call a 1A phase," explained Dr. Shelton. "DHEC has defined that as those who are front-facing covid positive patients. For Prisma Health, we have focused on the cohort units where there is a large percentage of covid positive patients, intensive care units, emergency departments, and drive-thru staff who are all at high risk to covid positive patients."

The Midlands Incident Commander says they have available beds and resources. However, a surge in numbers could quickly change this. He says that unless the community does its part in stopping the spread, a higher surge is expected to follow this holiday season.

"We have to think about our elderly loved ones—those with chronic health conditions like diabetes, obesity, and lung disease," said Dr. Shelton. "We will be putting them at significant risk with some of the large gatherings we do."

Prisma Health is urging folks to continue with covid safety precautions when visiting family during the holidays. Health officials say to have outdoor gatherings if possible, avoid buffet restaurants, and stay home if you're not feeling well.

RELATED: Lexington passes mask ordinance that lasts until May of next year