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Matthew Hensley: The numbers say vaccinations work

With breakthrough cases, how do we know the vaccine is working? Well, look at the proof.

Consider this: the delta variant is thought to be more than twice as virulent as the original COVID-19 strain, but the highest seven-day average for new cases from the current case surge is a third lower than the peak of the winter case spike. And projections released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate we’re likely at the peak number of cases.

What’s different? Why didn’t we see higher case numbers?

Well, fewer people are taking some of the known steps to minimize spread — masking, social distancing, etc. — than in the winter or during 2020, so it’s not that more people are covering their faces and keeping their distance. And there are fewer mandates requiring people to take those precautions. This situation likely accelerates spread, especially in our schools.

But nationwide, our number of new cases is lower.

The biggest difference: the vaccine.

Places with higher vaccination rates have by and large seen fewer cases per capita during this spike. In South Carolina, which ranks 40th out of 50 states for vaccination rate, the seven-day average reached just 4.3% below the spike in January. A number of states with below-average vaccination rates — Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi — have already topped the winter spike.

Elsewhere in this edition, you’ll find the latest hospitalization data from Self Regional Healthcare which again shows that far more people are hospitalized with COVID-19 who aren’t vaccinated than who are — and they skew much younger. This is in line with data released regularly from other hospitals as well as state and federal health officials.

The data is all very clear: Vaccination greatly reduces your risk of getting COVID-19 and experiencing serious illness from it.

If you haven’t already been vaccinated, please talk to your health care provider about the vaccine or visit

Contact Managing Editor Matthew Hensley at 864-943-2529 or Follow him on Twitter @IJMattHensley.



McCormick County School District’s board of trustees passed a resolution to be sent to the state legislature asking that a mask mandate ban be repealed.

More than 4,000 students in the state were out of school last week with positive COVID-19 cases and 30,000 more were out on quarantine from being in close contact with positive students.

There’s one week left until the first intersession of the year for Greenwood and McCormick county public school students.

Newly released data shows tens of thousands of student quarantines in the state since the start of the school year, including more than 30,000 last week.

With breakthrough cases, how do we know the vaccine is working? Well, look at the proof.


COVID-19 deaths and cases in the U.S. have climbed back to levels not seen since last winter, erasing months of progress and potentially bolstering President Joe Biden’s argument for his sweeping new vaccination requirements.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As the Lakelands and the country respond to the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has led to state and national emergency declarations, it is vital for everyone to have up-to-date information about the virus and its spread. As such, we're providing free access to all of our COVID-19 coverage, which is available on this page.

Here's the latest information on COVID-19 from health agencies and hospitals: