Grand Strand area doctors explain recent dip in COVID-19 cases

Local doctors explain factors behind decline in COVID-19 cases

MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WMBF) - South Carolina is seeing a slow and steady decline of COVID-19 cases.

In the most recent White House Coronavirus Report, many counties, including Horry County, were moved from the high case count Red Zone to a lower count Orange Zone.

Based on that data, there were 50-99 new cases per 100,000 people.

Dr. Gerald Harmon, Vice President of Medical Affairs Tidelands Health, says we’re finally in a good place to fight COVID-19.

“All the weapons are lining up, we’re getting ahead of this virus,” he said.

Dr. Paul Richardson, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Conway Medical Center, said the drop in cases is welcomed by health care workers.

CMC currently has nine COVID-19 patients hospitalized, but Richardson says it’s a massive drop from the highs seen this winter.

“I think multiple factors are getting us to where we are right now, with the drop in cases, with the drop in hospitalizations. And thank goodness the drop in deaths,” he said.

Richardson added that while vaccines are starting to help lower hospitalizations and deaths, there are still not enough doses distributed statewide just yet to attribute the large drops to just vaccinations.

Both Richardson and Harmon said the lack of travel and big holidays during the first three months of 2021 has also helped put a dent in the cases, along with mask-wearing being largely enforced and more normalized.

While testing is lower now, Harmon added it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

He said shifting the focus from large-scale testing helps Tidelands focus more on vaccine distribution and other medical procedures since resources aren’t tied up in testing.

Harmon added that likely fewer people are seeking a test because community spread is down in the first place.

While they’re doing less surveillance testing, Harmon said those with symptoms should still get tested for COVID-19.

In recent weeks, however, many restrictions, such as mask-wearing, have been removed by the state, along with some restrictions being lifted at the local level.

Both doctors said while cases are still low now, any impacts are still a few weeks away.

“We just really in the last week or so have we seen the relaxing of the mandates,” said Richardson.

Both doctors said they’re while hopeful, we still have months left to go in the pandemic.

“It’s still not in our rearview mirror,” said Harmon.

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