Younger South Carolinians with coronavirus now hospitalized in greater numbers, Prisma says
Prisma Health, South Carolina’s largest healthcare system, warned on Wednesday that the coronavirus surge in South Carolina is now leading to more younger patients being treated in its hospitals and that the number of COVID-19 patients Prisma is treating has more than tripled in the last month.
Over the past month, Prisma hospitals in the Upstate and the Midlands have gone from treating 65 patients on May 28 to treating 204 patients on June 30, said Dr. Scott Sasser, incident commander for Prisma Health’s COVID-19 response.
Of those, the number of younger patients being hospitalized has more than doubled from 4.1% to 11.2% of all hospitalized patients within Prisma’s system, Sasser said.
“Although that’s a smaller number overall of our patients, certainly that rate of increase, that doubling, is concerning to us as a healthcare system,” Sasser said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday.
The upward trend in younger people hospitalized matches a trend upward among younger people testing positive overall, Sasser said.
Prisma has seen an increase in people age 20 to 39 testing positive from 23.6% of its positive cases in March and April to 35.7% in May and June, Sasser said.
At the same time, the percentage of older patients both testing positive and being hospitalized with symptoms has dropped, he said.
The percentage of people over 60-years-old testing positive in May and June versus March and April has decreased from 40.6% to 20.9% at its community testing events, Sasser said.
Dr. Linda Bell, state epidemiologist with DHEC, said young people are transmitting the virus to friends and family. And across the state, young people who've visited beach cities and lived in close quarters without wearing masks have later tested positive by the dozens, The Greenville News reported.
The update from Prisma came a day after South Carolina announced a record high number of new coronavirus cases with 1,741. Hospitalized patients have risen beyond 1,000 as well, reaching 1,021 on Tuesday and 19 people died from the virus in one day, bringing the total number of people who have died from the virus to 739, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.
“The virus remains active in our community and unless all of us take some steps to stop the spread, we could see even higher numbers and an increasing surge in patients across the state of South Carolina,” Sasser said.
As the Fourth of July weekend approaches, he urged people across the state to wear masks and practice social distancing, saying each person has a part to play in slowing the virus’ spread.
But he said Prisma is stocked with personal protective equipment and has capacity to deal with an even greater surge of patients should the need arise.
The health care system has bed capacity to treat all current patients and could move patients between hospitals if needed, he said.
Prisma operates eight hospitals in the Upstate and four in the Midlands.