Photo by the CDC on Unsplash

Staff reports | Recent data from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) show the COVID-19 subvariant Omicron BA.2 and its fast-spreading offshoot, BA.2.12.1 are on the rise in the Palmetto State.

The lesser-known subvariant has caused a small surge in the Northeast United States, according to MUSC health experts, leading many to expect another surge coming sooner rather than later. 

“As a scientist, we love to follow the data,” said MUSC’s molecular pathology lab director Julie Hirschhorn. “And we don’t really have any data to suggest that we’re not going to see another surge. So I am preparing as if we are going to see another surge. Hopefully, I am wrong.”

Hirschhorn’s team handles every COVID test that comes through MUSC. Those that come back positive are sequenced to determine their genetic makeup and categorized by variant. According to the team’s records, Omicron has made a big impact in their lab. It caused the biggest surge they’ve seen during the pandemic, and since its mid-January peak, it has continued to mutate. 

What’s ahead remains unclear, but a recent 80% increase in weekly cases in Charleston is a factor to be considered, MUSC reports. But total cases still remain low, and severe cases are actually on a decline, a trend that many health-care providers hope continues. 

Latest COVID-19 data

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) transitioned to weekly reporting of new COVID data in March. The most recent numbers were reported last Tuesday and covered April 24-30.

State health officials on Tuesday reported 3,044 total new cases of COVID-19 and eight total new deaths. As of May 2, 117 COVID-19-positive individuals were hospitalized, and five were on ventilators. 

No positivity rate was reported by DHEC.

  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ with at least one vaccine: 67.1%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ who have completed vaccination: 58%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 with at least one vaccine: 20.2%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 who have completed vaccination: 16.4%

For more information, visit the S.C. SCDHEC COVID-19 dashboard.