COLUMBIA, SC (FOX Carolina) - Centers for Disease Control Director Robert R. Redfield, MD, met with Governor Henry McMaster, DHEC leader, state officials and others Thursday in Columbia to discuss the indirect health effects of COVID-19.
“Team South Carolina and the CDC are united in the fight against the physical and mental health problems created by COVID-19,” said Gov. Henry McMaster in a news release. “We will continue to provide resources and tools South Carolinians need to get through these challenging times, and I call on all South Carolinians to do their part in checking on loved ones who may be experiencing hardships.”
Redfield also stressed the importance of mask use and continued vigilance in the COVID-19 fight, and the importance of getting a fly shot.
“It’s important to continue taking this pandemic seriously,” Redfield told the crowd. “Please continue to be smart about crowds, particularly indoors. Continue to wear a face mask. And continue to wash your hands. Also, as people spend more time indoors in the fall and winter, the risk of flu and COVID-19 will rise. We can help take flu out of that equation. I urge the American public to embrace flu vaccination with confidence.”
Redfield said small, home gatherings are a major concern for potential virus spread as the holidays approach.
DHEC also reminds South Carolinians to stay as healthy as possible – physically, mentally and emotionally - during this time.
“COVID-19 has shown a far-reaching impact on the health of our communities, not only from the disease itself but from its impacts on our physical and mental health,” said Interim Director of Public Health Dr. Brannon Traxler in a news release. “To protect the health and safety of all South Carolinians requires a broad response from many partners on many levels, and we’re committed to such a response.”
In South Carolina, many of those who have died due to COVID-19 also had one or more other conditions: 60.4 percent also had cardiovascular disease, 34.6 percent had diabetes, 30.9 percent had a neurologic or intellectual disability, 22.7 percent had COPD, 21.2 percent had kidney disease, 13 percent had congestive heart failure and 12.3 percent had a previous stroke.
“We know that people with limited access to care and who are affected by conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell in a news release. “This is particularly true for our communities of color and older populations. That’s why it’s critical for all of us to do our part to help each other stay healthy and strong by keeping up to date on our medications, wellness visits and vaccinations like the flu shot.”
Officials also spoke about the toll the pandemic is taking on mental health, and a spike in overdose deaths.
DHEC advises that, in addition to taking the daily precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19, South Carolinians can help protect their mental and emotional health by:
• Taking breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories and social media. Hearing about COVID-19 or other stress-inducing issues repeatedly can be upsetting.
• Eat healthy, well-balanced meals; exercise regularly; get plenty of sleep; and avoid alcohol and drugs.
• Make time to unwind and participate in fun or relaxing activities. Connect with others. Talk with family and friends.
• Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. It’s OK to need assistance to stay mentally healthy.