S.C. doctors promote masks as hospitalization rates increase

Mask rules to help curb hospitalizations in SC

LANCASTER, S.C. (WBTV) - South Carolina’s hospitalization rates were up Tuesday, going from 69 percent to about 73 percent in one day. About a quarter of those beds are taken up by people who have the coronavirus.

According to DHEC’s hospital data, 1,324 people are in the hospital for COVID 19 Tuesday. Last month this time, just under 500 people were in the hospital. South Carolina epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell says SCDHEC is looking at the hospitalization numbers closely.

So are doctors locally. DHEC’s hospitalization map shows the day before. On Monday, York County’s rate was at 81 percent. Chesterfield County’s sits at 57 percent. Chester County is at zero percent. In Lancaster County, 49 percent.

Dr. Edward McCutcheon, MUSC Lancaster Chief Medical Officer, says hospitals cannot afford to be overwhelmed.

“The amount of resources and precautions needed in order to care for that patient is much much higher than a patient we don’t suspect has been infected with Covid-19,” says McCutcheon.

Rock Hill, Fort Mill and Tega Cay are requiring or suggesting wearing a mask. The city of York might follow suit. The council votes on a mask mandate Tuesday night, but wearing a mask has people divided.

”Just wear a mask. It’s not hard.”

“For one, masks don’t work.”

Whether a person agrees or disagrees with a mask mandate, DHEC says wearing a mask helps more than just you and other people. State epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell says she is concerned about the increasing hospitalization rates. In addition, rising case numbers are preventing DHEC from loosening any nursing home restrictions.

”It’s just hard because she’s in there alone,” says John Bramlett, whose mother is in the hospital.

Bramlett’s mom, Peggy, has not seen him in months. With cases continuing to rise, he says a visit does not feel like it is coming anytime soon.

“I miss her a lot, but I know I can’t see her right now,” he says.

On the hospital side, McCutcheon did not say where MUSC Lancaster’s hospitalization rates are, but said they are ready in case they get more COVID-19 patients. He added that lower hospital rates keep the hospital from being overwhelmed, helping those coming into the hospital.

“I strongly recommend that we continue to social distance, utilize good hand hygiene and I also highly highly emphasize the use of face masks.”

As for the mandates, McCutcheon says regardless if a city or town mandates masks, wear one anyway.

”Not only am I protecting myself, but I am protecting you and everybody around me. The request for folks to wear face masks should not be a politically-influenced reason.”

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