Grand Strand area doctors warn against Spring Break travel in order to keep COVID-19 cases down

Grand Strand area doctors warn against Spring Break travel, say COVID-19 case drop must continue

MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WMBF) - New COVID-19 cases are on a downward trend throughout the nation and South Carolina.

Doctors at two Grand Strand area hospitals said this trend will only stay around as long as we let it.

Dr. Gerald Harmon with Tidelands Health said he’s been tracking the drop for a little over a week now.

“Around Groundhog Day we started to see a downward trend. And it continues now,” Harmon said.

Just a few months ago in December, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reported the highest amount of cases statewide, with over 3,600 cases. But on Tuesday, Feb. 16, only a mere 868. The lowest in South Carolina, in months.

Harmon said it’s the end of the holiday surge. He said the back-to-back indoor gatherings and travel from Thanksgiving to Christmas and finally, New Year’s Eve caused cases to spike as doctors and epidemiologists predicted. He said now we’re on the other side.

“We’re hoping we can see a bit of a break in the coming weeks and really be a little less stressed on the system,” Harmon said.

Conway Medical Center’s Dr. Paul Richardson agreed. He said internally they’re starting to see fewer COVID -19 hospitalizations.

“It’s a nice relief for our healthcare community,” Richardson said.

However, they said this trend is not guaranteed to last. Upcoming spring break travel could cause cases to spike back up.

“Spring break is coming up for a lot of folks. You know there’s gonna probably be get-togethers, probably a little more travel than we’ve seen, and Easter won’t be too far on the horizon. I think that absolutely could this spike up again. It sure could,” Richardson said.

Harmon added he’s advising against spring break travel, even with more people getting vaccinated each day.

“Spring break travel I almost guarantee will be a spreader event,” Harmon said.

Harmon said while vaccinations are starting to help more people become protected against COVID-19, he doesn’t think it’ll make traveling for Spring Break safe.

He said with only around 10% of South Carolinians vaccinated, it’s likely those who are traveling, won’t be vaccinated. He said those who do travel, will likely be those who would spread it without having symptoms.

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