COLUMBIA, SC (AP) – The South Carolina governor said while receiving the COVID-19 vaccine was the right decision for him, other people who are reluctant to receive the vaccine would need to speak to friends, pastors and doctors and decide whether it’s best for her.
Governor Henry McMaster’s comments Thursday came as statistics show both good and bad news with the pandemic.
The average number of new COVID-19 cases has doubled to around 410 per day in the past two weeks, and the rate is showing no signs of slowing.
Officials reported 929 new COVID-19 cases Thursday in South Carolina, similar to the number of daily cases last seen in March when the vaccines were introduced, according to the Department of Health and Environment.
However, health officials also announced Thursday that at least half of the people in the state eligible for the vaccine had received at least one dose. This rate is better than some southern states, but is still in the bottom 20% of the US
About 44% of South Carolinians are fully vaccinated, DHEC said.
McMaster hasn’t stopped anyone from getting the vaccine, despite his strong opposition to teams going door-to-door offering doses. The 74-year-old governor has been vaccinated along with his wife.
“It’s a personal choice. We made our decision. I think it was the right decision, ”McMaster said Thursday after a meeting of a committee examining how to spend the federal COVID-19 aid money.
The governor said 99% of people currently in hospitals with COVID-19 have not been vaccinated, which shows the vaccinations are effective. He said there is information but also encouraged people who are reluctant to get the syringes to speak to friends or pastors, which may not change their minds if they share the same reluctance.
“You have to talk to the people you trust, be it the preacher or their doctor or neighbors or friends and make a decision,” McMaster said.
Schools and colleges will start again in less than a month, and health officials are concerned the COVID-19 may spread again. The lowest vaccination rates in the state are in people ages 12 to 24, according to health officials.
As early as this summer, South Carolina reported at least 150 cases in which children attended summer camps or their employees, said DHEC director Dr. Edward Simmer in a statement.
“These numbers are a snapshot of what could happen in our schools this year if more parents, students, teachers and other school officials don’t get vaccinated,” said Simmer. “At that time last year, we didn’t have a solution to defeat COVID-19. Now we’re doing it. “
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