Aiken health care officials, residents talk about COVID-19 cases rising in Aiken County

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AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) — Local health care officials and some residents are troubled about rising covid numbers in Aiken County.

“It scares me to death,” Aiken resident Susan French told NewsChannel 6’s Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk.

The state’s health agency reports Aiken’s seven-day average has risen to 70 cases on Tuesday. On Thursday it reached 156. Much larger numbers than the less than three we saw when cases bottomed out in early July. This week Aiken Regional reported more than two dozen people being hospitalized with COVID there.

“Of the patients we treat in-house, we primarily see adults, 18 years or older, and the positive COVID-19 cases continue to range from young adult to 80 years old,” Aiken Regional officials shared.

Since March 2020, we’re told, the highest number of positive patients the hospital had in the house at one time was more than 40. In the last month, two COVID-positive patients passed away there.

“I have grandchildren and I worry about how it will affect them because they can’t get vaccinated yet,” French added.

Local health experts say it’s the pandemic of the unvaccinated, and getting vaccination is the key.

“There’s no guarantee that you may not get sick if you’re exposed but the symptoms are greatly reduced and it could be as simple as like a cold or a little bad feeling,” CEO of Rural Health Services Carolyn Emanuel-McClain added.

“With the vaccine, I’m hearing that the FDA is fixing to approve it for regular use. So I’m just kinda sitting by waiting on that and then I’ll make another determination whether I’m gonna take the vaccine or not,” Aiken resident Greg Godfrey said.

NewsChannel 6 asked the two Aiken residents if they will make any changes following news of the increasing numbers.

Shawn asked French, “you’re vaccinated, but you’re still wearing your mask?” “I am now. We had a brief interlude, which was kind of fun. And you know, as soon as the numbers start going up, you do what you need to do,” she shared.

“I hadn’t been wearing my mask at all lately since they did away with the mask mandate and said we didn’t have to wear it no more,” Godfrey said. “I’m kinda just taking it one day at a time. I hope we don’t change the mask rules,” he added.

Meanwhile, Aiken city leaders say they haven’t had any discussions about possible mandates since the numbers started rising.

Rural Health will have vaccination clinics happening in our area to help get shots into arms. You can find out more at https://www.ruralhs.org/.

Also, you can find more on Aiken County statistics on SCDHEC’s website.

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