McLeod Loris Seacoast no visitor policy begins Saturday, and other COVID-19 news today

Malcolm Campbell copes with restaurant restrictions at Tammy’s Backyard BBQ in Loris Friday. (Jenn Causey, TLT)

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     A no-visitor police will got into effect at noon tomorrow at McLeod Loris and McLeod Seacoast hospitals, and at other times with a 24-hour period throughout the McLeod Health system.

     Disruptions to daily life in the Tabor-Loris Community, reflecting those nationally and globally, continue as the spread of the corona virus COVID-19 continues.

     Among the local impacts noted Friday:

  • McLeod to enact no visitors policy
  • CRHS sets up COVID-19 triage tent
  • Schools, meals and new student registration policies
  • Mental health resources for CC, Horry
  • Rep. Jones appointed to COVID-19 committee
  • Government offices in Horry remain closed
  • Sheriff’s Letter
  • HTC offers help/Drive in only

No visitors at McLeod hospitals

     McLeod Health is enacting a no visitor police at all of its facilities, the process taking about a day, a post on the McLeod Loris Seacoast Facebook page said Friday.

     McLeod Loris and McLeod Seacoast will enact the no visitor policy at noon Saturday, spokeswoman Kelly Hughes said.

     This police is “based on a recommendation from the Governor of South Carolina, our medical staff and our Infection Control teams,” the Facebook post said. The policy is “for the protection of our patients, staff, and community. We ask for everyone’s understanding and consideration while we do not allow visitors at this time.”

Triage Tent at CRHS. (Butch Pope photo)

CRHS COVID-19 triage tent

     While the visitor policy at Columbus Regional Healthcare in Whiteville had tightened, it has been tightened “in an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19” and “to protect our patients, providers,” the hospital announced Thursday.

     A new white triage tent is on the CRHS campus, just outside the Emergency Department effort, and will allow hospital staff to assess and direct patients who may have COVID-19 related symptoms away from other patients with different issues.

Schools, meals and new student registration policies

     Student meals will be served in the Columbus County Schools on the same schedule next week as this one, breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at each of the county’s schools for anyone 18 years of age and younger. Meals are available to be picked up and taken home.

     In the Horry County Schools some delivery schedules are changing, and the Horry County Schools will use school buses to deliver meals to those 18 years and younger currently enrolled in the county schools, and special needs students up to age 21. Meals include a free lunch and breakfast.

     Student meals in Horry next week, will run Monday through Friday, and continue during the school closure. USDA regulations provide that eligible children must be present to receive those meals.

  • New student registration in the Horry County Schools is underway, and necessary for students who will attend school beginning next fall and are not currently enrolled. A link to a new student registration form did not appear to be working Friday evening. Those who need to register should email registration@horrycountyschools.net.

     Students interested in transferring from one school to another within the district should make those inquiries after school is back in session.

     Teacher email addresses may be found on the school website under Staff Directory, in Google Classroom, and at https://www.horrycountyschools.net/Page/15214.

Mental health resources for CC, Horry

     There are resources available in Columbus and Horry counties for those with mental health concerns.

     In Columbus County Trillium Health Resources is the mental health resource with special therapeutic resources for children dealing with issues arising from the COVID-19 crisis, a news release Friday said.

     “Concern over this new virus, changes in the daily routine, and feelings of isolation during quarantine can be very traumatic for children and can lead to anxiety,” the news release said. “It is important for parents to realize that children look to adults for guidance on how to react to stressful events.

     “Parents and guardians should reassure children that health and school officials are working hard to ensure that everyone stays healthy. Teaching children positive preventive measures, talking with them about their fears, concerns and questions, and giving them a sense of some control over their risk of infection can help reduce anxiety. It is important that they know that they have supporting people around them to talk to.

     “Not all children respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for in children:

  • Excessive crying and irritation
  • Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (e.g., toileting accidents or

bedwetting)

  • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
  • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors
  • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
  • Unexplained headaches or body pain
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.

     “In an effort to help support children and families, Trillium Health Resources has created a list of services that are available for children who experience difficulty coping during this time and may not have access to school-based services. Some examples include:

  • “Telephonic therapy for school-aged children: available from clinicians who formerly provided school-based therapy; conversations take place over phone lines or through a video chat online once approved by the state. Please call our 24-Hour Access to Care Line at 1-877-685-2415 for help setting up an appointment.
  • “Mobile Crisis Services: Teams are made up of experienced clinical staff well- trained in crisis prevention and stabilization techniques. When a person experiences a behavioral health crisis, a member of the Mobile Crisis Team will respond and meet the person wherever it may be–at home, at school, at work or in the community and by telephone to help de-escalate the crisis. Please call our 24-Hour Access to Care Line at 1-877-685-2415 to request the Mobile Crisis Team.
  • “Crisis CHAT: A platform operated by Integrated Family Services, this offers emotional support, crisis intervention, and suicide prevention services to individuals within our catchment area. All crisis

     In Horry County the SC 2-1-1 system supported by the United Way of Horry County offers Coronavirus information and health resources, resources for families, mental health resources, and financial resources. In Horry County dial 211 or 1-866-892-9211.

Rep. Jones appointed to COVID-19 committee

     State Rep. Brenden Jones (R-Tabor City) has been appointed to the newly formed House Select Committee on COVID-19, NC House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) announced.

     That committee will consist of four working groups: Health Care, Continuity of State Operations, Education, and Economic Support. Jones was appointed to the Economic Support working group.

“As a small business owner, I am increasingly concerned about the economic impact businesses will face as a result of the spread of COVID-19, ​ Rep. Jones said.​ “Small businesses are the backbone of our state’s economy and we must do what we can to ensure their stability. I look forward to working with my colleagues to determine what measures the legislature can provide to effectively address this pandemic.”

Government offices

     Government offices, as of Friday, remained open in Columbus County though citizens were asked to use telephone and online options when possible to minimum face-to-face contact.

     In Horry County government offices will remain closed to the public next week, county leaders announced.

     “This excludes all airports,” a county news release said. “Limited court functions will continue. In addition, all state offices in County facilities will remain open, as directed by the Governor.

     “We strongly urge the public to handle business online where possible. We understand that there are crucial transactions that must take place and are not available online. The public is asked to call those departments directly for information and coordination.

     “Court for Horry County Magistrate Court and Circuit Court is cancelled the week of March 23. Jurors should not report to the courthouse next week.”

Sheriff comments

     Columbus County Sheriff Jody Greene, in a letter posted to the agency’s Facebook page and released to media outlets Friday, said the current COVID-19 outbreak response from the national level to the local level is responsible, despite some who think those measures extreme.

     Unchecked, COVID-19 has the potential to sicken 66 million Americans, and kill 660,000 people in the U.S., Greene wrote.

     “Our medical system cannot meet that kind of demand,” the sheriff wrote. “Social distancing slows the rate at which people become sick; in other words, it flattens the curve and allows medical systems to respond to the influx of patients over a longer period of time.

     “Even if the overall number of people who eventually get the virus does not change, if those people get sick across a longer period of time instead of all at once, we create less demand at any one time on critical and limited resources.

     “It is tragic that people will die.  It is unconscionable that some will die simply because they needed a hospital bed or a ventilator and there were not any available because people were unwilling to stay home for a few weeks to slow the spread of this illness.

     So, NO, I do not think strict social distancing is too extreme.”

     Greene said his job is to enforce the laws “and care about the safety of everyone in Columbus County and in this case, health issues plaguing our county that could result in large safety risks.  I am not willing to tell at-risk people they are worth anything less than the best efforts of this community.  Even if those efforts are inconvenient, uncomfortable, expensive, or dare I say it, boring.  We must accept that we all have an individual responsibility to act in the best interest of others.”

     Some changes in policy and procedures outlined by Sheriff Greene include:

  • Incoming detainees at the Detention Center will be assessed as they arrived, placed in rooms reserved for newcomers that are “sanitized between occupants,” and only after it is determined they are well will they be moved into the general jail population “where they are given time to shower and sanitize themselves.”

     Jail employees “who do not feel well or have had a known exposure to an infected person must stay home,” Greene said.

     Visitation with inmates has been canceled for at least two weeks, though procedures are in place for emergency legal visits or other dire circumstances, such as an inmate needing to receive notification of the death of a loved one.

     School resource officers who are not assisting with efforts to provide meals to students as schools are closed have been reassigned to other duties.

     Non-essential office visits, including fingerprinting, have been limited, facility tours have been cancelled, and the sheriff and his staff are not attending community meetings.

     Calls for services are being answered, with steps taken to attempt social distancing.

     “Our Office will continue to aid with those experiencing domestic violence, with service delivery modified to protect all parties,” Sheriff Greene wrote. “The person seeking services will use a computer in our lobby to fill out required paperwork with the real time support and guidance of crisis personnel who have a remote connection to that machine.  Equipment will be sanitized between users. Emergency hearings for domestic violence protective orders are still available, despite limited court services.

     “Stay safe, be good to one another, and call us if you need us.”

HTC offers help/drive-in service only

     HTC, an Horry County telephone, Internet and cable TV provider, is suspending any service disconnects for non-payment and waiving late fees “in preparation for the potential economic impact caused by COVID-19,” the cooperative said in a news release.

     HTC is also providing a $20 bill credit to residential and business Internet subscribers for April and May, and postponing a cable television rate adjustment that had been scheduled to begin April 1.

     HTC retail locations will be closed Saturday, and will re-open by appointment only at 8 a.m. Monday. Drive-thru service will be available.