Prisma Health, South Carolina’s largest private, non-profit healthcare system, was formed in 2017 following the merger of Palmetto Health and Greenville Health System. The hospital has led the state’s Covid-19 response through its research and treatment. Photo by Connor Hart

In South Carolina, there has been a 47% decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks, according to reporting by The New York Times

This can be seen reflected in Prisma Health, which reported 337 hospitalizations on Oct. 1, according to combined data from 11 Prisma Health hospitals treating COVID-19 in its Columbia and Greenville, South Carolina, markets. About 90% of hospitalizations were unvaccinated patients.

Not even a week later on Oct. 5, the hospital reported nearly 50 fewer hospitalizations.

Hospitalizations remain largely, “among individuals that are not fully vaccinated,” said Dr. Jane Kelly, assistant state epidemiologist, at a S.C. DHEC COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday. “Getting fully vaccinated is how we end this pandemic.”

According to The New York Times, 61% of residents ages 12 and up in Richland County are fully vaccinated. This is slightly below Charleston County, where 65% are fully vaccinated and slightly above Greenville County, where 56% are fully vaccinated.

As a state, South Carolina is lagging behind the national vaccination rate of 66% for people ages 12 and up.

South Carolina’s 7-day average of new cases was 2,681 on Oct. 3. In comparison, on Sept. 3, South Carolina’s 7-day average of new cases was 5,445. This is about a 50% decrease in the number of cases, according to The New York Times.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, South Carolina has recorded over 12,500 deaths and over 860,000 total cases – a number approximately equal to the total population of Charlotte, North Carolina.

In recent months, the South underwent a surge in cases which left hospitals overwhelmed and understaffed and thousands of families across the state struggling with the loss and sickness of loved ones.

Meanwhile, life seemed to – largely – return to normal. Tens of thousands of Gamecock fans gathered in Williams-Brice Stadium without masks for the first game of the season, while parents, school boards and courts clashed over whether or not masks should be required in schools. The South Carolina State Fair, which draws thousands, is set to begin Oct. 13.

However, the pandemic is not over, and, in order to continue a downward trajectory of cases, people must continue to get vaccinated and follow mitigation efforts, Kelly stated during the briefing.