Local Hospitals Respond to Surge in Illnesses: Reinstate Mask Policies and Tighten Visitation Restrictions for Public Safety


The number of respiratory illnesses is rising at an alarming rate. For the seventh week in a row, the CDC has seen an increase in outpatient visits. At the same time, more people across the country are being hospitalized with COVID-19, the flu, and RSV.

A lot of the CDC’s close attention is on the number of visits for fever, cough, or sore throat symptoms. Most lung viruses are found in South Carolina and Louisiana. The CDC says that these two states have a “very high” activity level.

Since temps drop from December to February, that’s when the most flu cases happen, which is why more tests are being done. Dr. Kurt Gambla of Beaufort Memorial stresses how important tests are, especially since colds, COVID-19, and the flu all have similar symptoms. “About 300 people have been tested for the flu in the last week, and about 80 have tested positive.” “And that’s been spread out pretty evenly between flu a and flu b,” says Gamble.

Because of more flu and lung illnesses, Prisma Health changed its rules about visitors on December 27. Children younger than 16 are no longer allowed to visit patients. Infectious disease expert Dr. Sangita Dash stresses the goal of the change: to protect patients, their families, and staff from seasonal flu and lung illnesses. “We are doing this to protect our patients, their loved ones, and our team members against the spread of seasonal flu and other respiratory illnesses,” says Dash.

The hospital may make exceptions, and guests aren’t required to wear masks but are encouraged to do so. Visitation rules are kept up to date by keeping an eye on how things are going all the time.

Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System is also trying to deal with the increase by telling people not to go to the hospital unless they have to. People who are sick with a respiratory bug should not go to the doctor unless they are sick.

To stop the spread of respiratory illnesses, patients and guests to Spartanburg Regional facilities are asked to wear masks. As of Wednesday, the healthcare system requires doctors and staff in clinical areas of system hospitals and Medical Group of the Carolinas offices to wear masks. This is to make things safer.

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