CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) — The Medical University of South Carolina’s COVID-19 Data Tracker has shifted from green to yellow, or medium, in the Charleston metro area.
The yellow, medium, sector suggests that individuals at high risk for severe illness talk to their healthcare providers about wearing a mask.
“Our medium rating is really targeting people who are at risk. The elderly, people who have health problems, people who are immunosuppressed. It’s saying now is the time for those folks to really be careful,” Michael Sweat, Ph.D. said.
Sweat leads MUSC’s COVID tracking team.
Hospitalizations in the Tri-county area are at 2.8 per 100,000 people.
The MUSC report attributes the recent uptick to elevated temperatures keeping people indoors, where viruses can spread easier.
According to Sweat, the COVID-19 virus concentration in wastewater has seen a growth rate of 20% from the week prior.
Nexstar Media Wire says using data from the wastewater testing areas allows health officials to better, and more quickly, respond to the spread of COVID-19.
Sweat says COVID seems to be following a seasonal pattern, yet a second pattern has emerged following the new EG.5.5 variant.
“It’s growing. It’s going to become the predominant variant. That’s pretty clear, given the growth rate. It’s a progeny of Omicron,” Sweat said of EG.5.5.
MUSC officials believe a dramatic COVID-19 wave is unlikely due to the amount of people that have already had COVID or been vaccinated.
While the COVID-19 Data Tracker has shifted to yellow, doctors are warning the public to use caution for another reason.
“I think we’re going to get clobbered by flu this year,” infectious disease specialist Scott Curry, M.D. said.
Curry predicts a “highly unpleasant” flu season for Fall 2023. He suggests people wear masks even when experiencing a simple cough for simple public health prevention.
MUSC will receive shots for the 2023 flu season at the end of August.