Greenville public leaders and health care professionals warned of increasing numbers of positive COVID-19 cases in Greenville County as the county has been deemed a hotspot for the coronavirus by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. They urged individuals to take the pandemic seriously and to understand that the pandemic is still a real threat.
In a press conference on Thursday, June 11, city of Greenville Mayor Knox White emphasized there has been a lack of precautions taken by individuals including wearing face masks and social distancing.
“We know that people are not social distancing like they should. I am guilty myself of not social distancing as I should,” Knox said. “We need to be reminded again how important this is, and I think we need to be reminded that the steps to be taken at this point … are really an easy ask.”
Dr. Brannon Traxler of DHEC revealed that there were 125 new cases in Greenville County as of Thursday, June 11, bringing the total number of cases to 2,492. She said that yesterday’s number of 145 cases was the highest daily number seen in a South Carolina county since the pandemic began. Two people died Thursday of the disease, bringing the number of deaths in Greenville County to 67 total.
“To put these numbers in perspective, Greenville County currently has a higher case count and a higher rate of cases by population size than the entire state of Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming or Montana,” Traxler said.
Communication and cooperation between the community and health care systems along with following the coronavirus guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and DHEC will be key to stopping the spread, Prisma Health‘s Dr. Wendell James said. “This is not fiction,” he added.
“It’s not spreading in the hospital. It’s not spreading in a business environment where people are observing social distancing and wearing masks. It’s not spreading in a restaurant where people are social distancing and they’re observing other protocols,” said Dr. Eric Ossman, also from Prisma. “It’s spreading in close groups.”
Dr. Marcus Blackstone, chief clinical officer at Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, said it has been “bothersome” that some people have asked if the disease was even real. “It’s as real as it gets,” he said. “It’s here, and we run the risk of this continuing if we don’t do our part.”
County Councilman Ennis Fant drew attention to the combined situation of COVID-19 and the continued protests across the country following the death of George Floyd. He urged those who plan to attend any protests to wear face masks, keep to small groups and not wander through large crowds. He said that those who had participated in the recent protests should get tested for the coronavirus.
Officials also brought up the number of positive cases in the Hispanic population. About a third of new cases have come from Hispanic-identifying people. Besides targeted testing in Greenville areas with large Hispanic populations, the health systems have partnered with community groups like the Hispanic Alliance to provide bilingual resources for individuals.