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Health experts warn of 'alarming' rise in COVID-19 cases in South Carolina

The state has seen an increase in cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Public health experts warned Wednesday of another surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths across South Carolina as more than half of state residents remain unvaccinated. 

Health officials reported 204 confirmed cases and 121 probable cases Wednesday for a total of 325. That's lower than the thousands of cases reported daily during the pandemic's January peak but still 58% more cases than last week. The fast-moving Delta variant is also poised to spread across the state. 

That follows national trends as well. 

"This is alarming," said Dr. Brannon Traxler, the Director of Public Health for SCDHEC, the state's health agency. 

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Traxler said back on June 23, 147 people were hospitalized statewide, but as of July 14, that number has gone up to 205. That represents a 39.4% increase in just three weeks.

RELATED: Symptoms for the delta variant are different from 'classic' COVID-19 symptoms. Here's what you need to know.

As experts said during most of the pandemic--and as proven by the evidence--there generally is first a rise in cases, then hospitalizations, then deaths. 

Health officials say the rising cases and hospitalizations mean more people need to get vaccinated. Less than 44% of South Carolinians aged 12 and older are completely inoculated against the virus. That's despite the vaccine first being available in December of last year, and expanded to anyone over 18 in late March. 

"COVID-19 is now a vaccine preventable disease,' Traxler said. "South Carolinians don't need to continue to die and become hospitalized and sick from this disease. You can protect yourselves and others."

Most pharmacies around the state now offer walk-in vaccinations, as do many doctors offices. To find a location of a vaccine site near you, visit DHEC'S vaccine website.

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