COVID-19 TLC update: Thursday, March 19

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     Community spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 has been confirmed in North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper said in a Thursday afternoon news conference, as new cancellations, changes to school meal and information policies, and other pandemic related information was shared for the Tabor-Loris Community (TLC).

     This posting will cover these topics:

  • Community spread
  • Event cancellations
  • School meals, technology changes
  • Telework policy for SCC
  • CRHS visitor policies
  • NC 2-1-1

Community spread

     One case of community spread of the COVID-19 has been confirmed in Wilson County, Gov. Cooper said, the first in the state.

     That, state Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Dr. Mandy Cowan said, means a person has been diagnosed with the disease with no direct source of transmission known. The infected person has not travelled to an area where the disease is known to be present, and has not been in direct contact with anyone known to be infected.

     With that North Carolina moves into a news phase of its COVID-19 response, Cowan said.

     “Mitigation is the next step following confirmed community spread,” Dr. Cowan said. “We need to lessen the number of people that get sick at the same time and avoid overwhelming the health care system.”

     Community spread was expected, Dr. Cowan said.

     “That’s why we’ve been so aggressive,” she said. “We must do our part to slow down the spread. Individual actions matter.”

     That’s why restaurants and bars have been closed, and Gov. Cooper has banned by executive order gatherings of 100 people or more even as the governor and the Centers for Disease Control have recommended that number be 50, and President Donald Trump has discouraged gathers of more than 10 people.

     In North Carolina, for now, gatherings of more than 100 people are prohibited by law, with local law enforcement and prosecutors empowered to enforce that, an option that apparently has not been taken across the state. Gov. Cooper encouraged voluntary compliance with the law.

     While some cities in the U.S. have enacted laws requiring citizens to stay home except for essential travel – such as seeking medical care or getting medications and groceries – Dr. Cowan said that is not under immediate consideration in North Carolina, but that “there are always things we have to consider.”

Event cancellations

     Some recently announced community event cancellations as a result of the COVID-19 response include:

  • Easter Egg Hunts sponsored by the Loris and Tabor City chambers of commerce have been cancelled, the decision for Tabor City made by event co-sponsors at the Columbus County Department of Parks & Recreation. For any Greater Tabor City Chamber of Commerce related information, call 910-377-3012 or 910-840-0292. Those calls will be returned as soon as possible.
  • A First Responders Celebration scheduled for Loris on March 28 has been cancelled. “We will reschedule it at a later date,” announcement from the Loris Chamber of Commerce said.
  • Loris Spring Festival has also been cancelled, the chamber announced.

School meals, technology changes

     Programs to provide meals from schools that are closed across the Carolinas will remain the same next week as this one in Columbus County, and are changing in Horry.

     Columbus County Schools’ spokesman Kelly Jones this morning said all schools will continue serving meals for the rest of this week.

     In Columbus County breakfast is available from 8 to 10 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at all of the school campuses.

     School meal delivery options will begin Monday in the Horry County Schools. School buses will be used to deliver meals to children 18 years old and younger, and special needs students up to age 21, who are currently enrolled in the Horry County Schools. Meals will include lunch and breakfast, and the qualified student must be present.

     New delivery points include:

  • Loris: 10:15 -10:45 a.m.at Cedar Branch Empowerment Center; 10:15 -10:30 a.m. at Bennett Loop at the end of the loop; 11:00-11:30 a.m. at Creekwood Apartments; 11 -11:30 a.m. at Freemont Baptist Church; 11:45 – 12:15 a.m. at end of Goosebay Road.
  • Green Sea Floyds: 10 to 10:30 at Hwy 41- and Finklea Grocery; 10:45 to 11:15 a.m. Hwy 19 at the vacant lot

     In Horry County breakfast and lunch are available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at specific locations, including Loris Elementary and Green Sea Floyds Elementary in northern Horry.

     Horry County Schools also announced a new Internet Availability policy and the closing of its PowerSchool Parent Portal Access Thursday.

  • Internet Availability: During the extended school closure, internet access is available in the parking lots of any HCS school building. Parking for internet access is allowed in these areas between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
  • PowerSchool Parent Portal Access:Due to the extended school closure, Quarter 3 will not end on Friday, March 20th, as previously scheduled. Because of the flexibility built into our eLearning plan, the parent portal will be offline until further notice.

Telework policy for SCC

     An emergency meeting of the Southeastern Community College Board of Trustees is scheduled for Friday morning on campus to consider a new telework policy that will allow SCC employees, when possible, to work from home.

CRHS visitor policies

     Columbus Regional Healthcare in Whiteville announced changes to its visitor policy “following current guidance of national and state health leaders, and in an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

     Policies now in place “to protect our patients, providers, and teammates” include:

  • Visitors: Patients are limited to one visitor per day. The visitor must be an immediate family member who is 18 or older. No one under the age of 18 will be allowed on campus, unless seeking emergency medical treatment.

     All visitors will be screened at the entrance points to the hospital, and anyone with a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or possible exposure to COVID-19 will not be allowed to visit. Visitation hours are limited to 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. Patients in the emergency room are not allowed to have any visitors, with the exception of patients under the age of 18, who may have one guardian.

     Patients at Columbus Regional Health Network may have one visitor with them, who will be screened prior to entrance into the clinic.

  • Hospital Access: On weekdays, entrance to the hospital is limited to the Yellow Canopy, the ASU Covered Walkway, and the Emergency Department. On weekends entrance to the hospital is limited to the Yellow Canopy.

     The emergency department will remain open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. The main entrance of the hospital, from visitor parking, no longer has access to the main hospital. That entrance is limited to services provided in the professional office building, such as Donayre Cancer Care Center and Physical Therapy. This entrance closes at 5 p.m. on weekdays and remains closed on the weekends.

     The emergency room is developing a higher level of screening and triage for those patients requiring emergency care. We know that these changes may be an inconvenience to families of patients in the hospital, however, it is imperative that we take active steps to prepare for and respond to the developments of COVID-19 and keep our patients, their families, our teammates, and the community safe.

     This is a rapidly developing situation, and Columbus Regional will continue to respond accordingly. Please continue monitoring our website here and our Facebook page here for the most recent updates.

NC 2-1-1

     NC 2-1-1, an information and referral service that families and individuals can call to obtain free and confidential information on health and human services resources within their community, has been activated in North Carolina, Columbus County Health Director Kim Smith said Thursday.

     NC 2-1-1 operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and resources are available in most languages.

     “Services like NC 2-1-1 are critical during times of emergency,” said Governor Cooper. “North Carolinians can now call 2-1-1 to get the information they need while we continue working together to prevent the spread of this virus.”

     North Carolinians can text COVIDNC to 898211 to receive general information and updates about COVID-19. Sign up now to get regular alerts on the rapidly evolving situation and North Carolina’s response.

     NC 2-1-1 can refer callers to the organizations in their local community best equipped to address their specific health and human services needs including food, shelter, energy assistance, housing, parenting resources, health care, employment, substance abuse treatment, as well as specific resources for older adults and for persons with disabilities, and much more. Simply dial 2-1-1 or TTY 888-892-1162 for assistance.

     NC 2-1-1 cannot provide direct medical services, and COVID-19 can only be diagnosed by a health care professional. If you suspect you or someone you care for may have symptoms or have been exposed to the virus, you should contact your health care provider. If you do not have a provider, you can call your local health department, free and charitable clinics or a Federally Qualified Health Clinic for guidance.

     People should only call 9-1-1 if they are experiencing an emergency. 9-1-1 centers across North Carolina have been receiving general questions and other non-emergency calls related to COVID-19. Please do not call 9-1-1 unless you have an emergency.

     For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 in North Carolina, go here.

     Due to anticipated high call volume, those seeking general information about COVID-19 are strongly encouraged to sign up for texts. People who are trying to locate specific services would benefit by calling. To learn more about NC 2-1-1, visit here.