SCDHEC Director Issues Statement on COVID-related Deaths

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Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC Director recently issued the following statement:

Fellow South Carolinians,

Today the State of South Carolina reported 15 new deaths due to COVID-19, pushing the total South Carolinian lives lost so far to this virus past the 10,000 mark.

While statistics are useful to measure data, there is no statistic for grief or comfort in a milestone for those who have lost family members and loved ones. To all those families across South Carolina, I want to say my deepest sympathy is with you. I know I also speak on behalf of the thousands of dedicated DHEC employees across our great state who are working non-stop to help prevent more lives from being lost.

There is only one way to prevent more lives from being lost, and that is through vaccination. Hundreds of millions of Americans have been fully vaccinated, including nearly two million South Carolinians. But our work is not done. That number only represents 45 percent of South Carolinians eligible for the vaccine, and it does not count all those aged 11-and-under who are not yet eligible for the vaccine but who depend on the rest of us to protect them.

Although one month ago it looked like the pandemic was improving, the arrival of the Delta variant has created a surge in new cases and deaths that we have to take seriously. Until we reach a critical percentage of South Carolinians vaccinated that can stifle COVID-19’s spread, we are not out of danger. And the longer that takes, the more time the virus has to mutate into new, harder-to-control variants.

Right now, the vaccines we have are all safe, reliable and available. They work and are our best chance at preventing more infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. Please, get fully vaccinated if you aren’t, and continue to follow CDC and DHEC guidelines about universal mask use indoors in public places.

South Carolinians have a well-deserved reputation for working together and taking care of each other. Now more than ever, we need to do so. If we do, we will defeat COVID-19, which has already taken so much from so many.