Greenville Mayor Knox White joined officials from Prisma Health in a news conference on Wednesday, Jan. 13 as COVID-19 cases increase and vaccine rollout begins.
Knox commended the Greenville community for reporting large scale events that go against the South Carolina governor’s executive order against such gatherings. He said Greenville police have made over 300 site visits since December.
“We continue to see a number of too many special events being scheduled in the next few weeks and we really appreciate the public’s help and providing tips,” Knox said.
Prisma Health’s president, Mark O’Halla told reporters that regions across the state have consistently been running at a 30% positivity rate. Greenville County was at 40% on Monday, O’Halla said.
“Greenville had the most infections of any mid-sized city in the nation this past week,” he added. O’Halla said 180 out of 350 Prisma employees who were out due to COVID-19 were clinical, which creates difficulty in staffing needed personnel.
To continue to combat the spread of COVID-19, Prisma is opening a step-down unit at its Laurens facility. O’Halla explained that those too ill to return home, but are stable enough, will go to the unit. This frees up space in hospitals for new COVID-19 patients and those with other illnesses.
Prisma has started vaccinating at all of its community hospitals in the state. “We’re also going to be looking at expanding locations, outside of our hospitals in order to make it easier for people to get vaccinated,” O’Halla said. He said the health system has been averaging 2,000 vaccinations a day with over 22,000 doses given out so far.
Those 65 years and older can now register for an appointment to receive the first dose of the vaccine by going to https://prismahealth.org/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine or by calling 833-277-4762, according to Prisma’s chief ambulatory medical officer Dr. Saria Saccocio who co-leads the system’s vaccine task force. Gov. Henry McMaster still needs to provide guidance to DHEC as orders earlier this week were to allow those 70 and older to receive the vaccine. The Trump administration lowered that age to 65 on Tuesday.
Saccocio said Prisma will contact those who register to schedule a time for them to receive the vaccine. More sites by DHEC and retail pharmacies will be live soon to help provide the vaccine to community members. Saccocio urged the importance of both doses of the vaccine since only with both doses will the vaccine be up to 95% efficient. She also asked for patience as the mechanisms to provide the vaccine are set up.
“The vaccine will not be widely administered to 75% of the population until this summer,” said Saccocio. “So please, please continue to maintain six feet social distance between yourself and others, wear a mask in public and … wash your hands frequently.”
For more information on COVID-19 from DHEC visit https://scdhec.gov/covid19.