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Health experts fear another COVID-19 surge after the holidays

Epidemiologists say the increase in COVID numbers could flow into schools.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — With just a week away from Thanksgiving, experts are predicting we could see another COVID-19 surge following the holidays.

State epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell says vaccination is key in helping slow the spread of the virus. According to DHEC, 55.9% of South Carolinians are fully vaccinated.  

"We still remain in the throes of the pandemic," said Dr. Bell. 

She went on to say, "Over the past year and a half of this pandemic over major holidays have moved us into increased hospitalizations and deaths. I am very concerned we may again see those rises."

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On October 5th, Richland School District One reported 88 students and five teachers as COVID positive, with 743 students in quarantine. On November 17th the district reported three students and four teachers testing positive, and 123 students in quarantine.

On that same day in October, in Kershaw County, 90 students and 14 teachers had COVID, 363 students in quarantine. A month later on November 17th there were 15 students and five staff with COVID, 62 students in quarantine.

Lexington-Richland Five most recent numbers show six students have COVID and 133 are in quarantine.

USC Epidemiologist Dr. Anthony Alberg says holiday travel and gatherings could see spikes in cases among children.

RELATED: Despite decrease in COVID-19 cases, risk for children is high, officials say

"The school is a community within the community," said Dr. Alberg.

He went on to say, "We anticipate that surge will filter into schools as well."

"Thanksgiving when there is a lot of travel a lot of gatherings and if people are not adhering to safety guidelines… we'll start to see an uptick in transmission."

Dr. Alberg says with vaccinations approved for those as young as five… families should do everything they can to protect their children these holidays.

"We'll see an increase in the number of cases, but the devastating impact will be concentrated only on those who remain unvaccinated."