Hotels, ammusements ordered closed in Horry, still no confirmed cases in Columbus: COVID-19 update

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     Hotels and a host of businesses will be closed effective Saturday, Horry County Council ordered during an emergency meeting Thursday; while Columbus County went another day with no confirmed COVID-19 cases.

     This post will cover these topics:

  • Hotels, amusements ordered closed in Horry
  • No confirmed cases in Columbus
  • Call center
  • Mild symptoms: Stay home
  • Virtual Extension workshops
  • Horry eLearning assignments/Spring break

Hotels, amusements ordered closed in Horry

     Hotels, short term rentals and most “amusement type activities” will be banned in Horry County beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, County Council agreed in an emergency meeting Thursday.

     Included in the ban are hotels, mini-golf courses, golf car rentals, theaters and amusement parks in unincorporated area of Horry County, a news release from the county said.

     Golf courses are not restricted in the ordinance and are allowed to remain open,” the news release said. “We continue to encourage appropriate social distancing.”

     That decision was similar to earlier action taken in Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach.

     County Council did not notify news organizations or the public of the emergency meeting, action that may be legal during a state of emergency, though the law requires notification to those, including news agencies, who have requested such notice, The Sun News reporting quoting South Carolina Freedom of Information attorney Jay Bender.

No confirmed cases in Columbus

     With more than half of the 84 known COVID-19 tests given to Columbus County residents complete, there are still no known positive findings, the Columbus County Health Department reports.

     Health Director Kim Smith says it’s likely someone, or more, in the county have contracted the latest coronavirus, and some may have self-quarantined without being tested.

     By noon Thursday the Columbus County Health Department had received notice of 84 COVID-19 tests being performed in the county, 45 of those returned as negative. That leaves 40 with results pending, a Health Department fact sheet said.

     “If /when there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Columbus County, we will immediately notify the public,” the fact sheet said.

Call center

     Columbus County Health Department has opened a call center to answer questions from residents.

     Open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, the center can be reached at 910-640-6615 extension 7045 or 7046.

     “It is important that county residents remain vigilant as the spread of COVID-19 continues,” the health department fact sheet said. “The best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to continue social distancing as well as good sanitation and hygiene practices.

     “It is the goal of the Columbus County Health Dept. to continue to provide the most up-to-date information possible. For more information please use reputable sources such as the NCDHHS (North Carolina Dept. of Health and Human Services) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

     For more information regarding COVID-19 in Columbus County, please follow the Columbus County Health Department on Facebook.

Mild symptoms: Stay home

     Federal guidelines passed through the states and locally, including at the Columbus County Health Department, recommend that those who think they have COVID-19 and have mild symptoms should stay home and call their doctor.

     That recommendation comes from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A new fact sheet to help North Carolinians know what to do if they are sick has been developed by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS).

     “I’ve talked to doctors across the state and they have been heroic in standing up a variety of strategies to increase access to safe care for their patients,” said Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, State Health Director and Chief Medical Officer for NCDHHS. “Just as they do every day of the year, doctors are guided first and foremost by what is best for their patients’ well-being.”

     That fact sheet is available at ncdhhs.gov, the direct link is here.

     The updated guidance is intended to slow the spread of the virus. When people with mild illness leave their homes to get tested, they could expose themselves to COVID-19 if they do not already have it. If they do have COVID-19, they can give it to someone else, including people who are high risk and health care providers who will be needed to care for people with more severe illness. In addition, because there is no treatment for COVID-19, a test will not change what someone with mild symptoms will do.

     Finally, with a nationwide shortage on personal protective equipment, supplies need to be preserved to allow health care providers to care for people who need medical attention. Testing is most important for people who are seriously ill, in the hospital, people in high-risk settings like nursing homes or long-term care facilities, health care workers and other first responders who are caring for those with COVID-19.

     For most people, COVID-19 infection will cause mild illness that does not require medical care. However, it can make some people very ill and, in some people, it can be fatal. While all people can call their doctors if they are concerned about symptoms of COVID-19, it is especially important for people at higher risk for severe illness. According to the CDC, those at higher include people who:

  • Are 65 years and older.
  • Live in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
  • Have a high-risk condition, including chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, heart disease with complications, compromised immune system, severe obesity with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher or other underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, renal failure or liver disease.
  • People who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk for severe viral illness. However, to date, data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk for severe illness due to pregnancy. While children are generally at lower risk for severe infection, some studies indicate a higher risk among infants.

     Anyone with more serious symptoms should call their doctor or 911 right away. More serious symptoms can include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain or pressure, confusion or blue lips.

     People who are sick with COVID-19 or believe they might have it should stay home and separate themselves from other people in the home as much as possible. They can go back to their normal activities when they can answer YES to all the following questions:

  • Has it been at least 7 days since you first had symptoms?
  • Have you been without fever for three days (72 hours) without any medicine for fever?
  • Are your other symptoms improved?
  • Household members and people who have been in close contact with someone who has had symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home as much as possible for 14 days and monitor themselves for symptoms. Close contact means within six feet for at least 10 minutes. If they start having symptoms of COVID-19, they should take the same steps to prevent spreading it.

     NCDHHS will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 closely using a variety of tools normally used to track influenza that have been adapted for this response. This includes testing of samples from a network of clinical sites around the state and tracking emergency department visits and other health care data.

     To stay up to date on COVID-19 in North Carolina, visit here or text COVIDNC to 898211. Call 2-1-1 (or 888-892-1162) for general questions or for help finding human services resources in your community.

Virtual Extension workshops

     Columbus County Cooperative Extension agents are practicing social distancing while looking for ways to serve the county, and have developed a weekly series of virtual workshops that will be broadcast live on the agency’s Facebook page, Extension Director Dalton Dockery said Thursday.

     Workshops will be posted live at 3 p.m. starting next week, three or four days each week, through April.

     If circumstances continue to require social distancing, likely Dockery said, the series will continue in May, and for as long as needed.

     To view the workshops visit the Cooperative Extension Facebook page. The direct link is here.

     “Eventually we will have a YouTube channel as well,” Dockery said.

     Scheduled workshops and topics include:

  • March 30 – April 3: Monday, Pesticide license Q&A; Tuesday, Canning 101; Wednesday, Weeds in the landscape; Friday, 4-H is here for you.
  • April 6-10 – Monday, Food safety; Wednesday, Pest problems; Thursday, Handwashing; Friday, We got this.
  • April 13-17 – Monday, Gardening problems; Wednesday, TBA; Friday, Proper soil sampling methods
  • April 20-24 – Monday, Fruity fizz recipe; Wednesday, Heritage skills craft; Thursday, TBA; Friday, Lawn care.

Horry eLearning assignments/Spring break

     Spring break is coming even as students in the Horry County Schools learn more about distance learning, including just how to turn in student assignments with a strong preference for electronic options.

     All school events throughout the district, and across South Carolina, are closed through at least April 30 by executive order of Gov. Henry McMaster. That includes proms, concerts, athletics, and much more.

     “We are unable to determine if or when these events may be rescheduled at a later date,” a school district news release said.

     Spring break will take place as scheduled in the Horry County Schools, from April 10 through 17.

     “Therefore, as in a normal year, instruction will cease for this period of time,” the news release said. “However, grab-and-go lunch and breakfast will continue for students during this break.

     HCS has specific information for different grade levels:

     Elementary grades, Alternate Instructional Plan (paper-packet option)

  • HCS recommends that parents use any electronic method available to submit completed student assignments to teachers. These completed assignments may be submitted to teachers as email attachments, photos, or uploads to Google Classroom.
  • If parents do not have an electronic means to submit assignments, parents may submit the assignments at their child’s elementary school using the following arrangements:  Each Friday, beginning on March 27th, parents may drop off completed assignments (paper packets) at their child’s school from 11:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m. and 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. and pick up assignments (paper packets) for future weeks during the same visit. This process will continue for the entirety of the extended school closure that is currently in effect.
  • Friday pick-up and drop-off dates of paper packet assignments include: March 27, April 3 and 24.

     Middle/High schools, Alternate Instructional Plan (eLearning online option), Additional eLearning assignments will be added to the eLearning Instructional Plan.

  • Principals will notify parents via Parentlink (email and phone call) that all teachers will be completing a virtual roll call this week to ensure students can turn in eLearning assignments.
  • The Parentlink message will also include information for families who need to turn in or pick up hard copy assignments or get support regarding their digital devices. The school will provide this opportunity on Fridays only by appointment beginning on Friday, March 27th. Parents should call the school (Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) to schedule a time for pick-up and drop-off of hard copy work assignments or to request technology support.
  • To prevent multiple trips to school and additional exposure, administrators will make every effort to ensure that students/parents can drop off finished work and pick up new assignments during the same visit to the school.
  • This process for making Friday appointments for support will continue for the entirety of the school closure period beginning on Friday, March 27th.
  • Friday pick-up and drop-off dates, and appointments include March 27, April 3 and 24.

     eLearning Assignment Grading for All Grade Levels

     “The current school closure has presented challenges for teachers and students regarding third-quarter grading,” the HCS news release said. “We realize some students, due to current circumstances, may have experienced difficulty in completing and submitting assignments by the March 27th third-quarter deadline.

     “Therefore, students who do not complete and submit assignments by March 27 will have additional time to complete and submit assignments. Until assignments are completed and submitted by the student, the assignments will be considered incomplete, and the grade will be entered as a zero in the gradebook.

     “Once the assignments are submitted and graded by the teacher, the zero will be replaced with the new grade. Questions about grading should be directed to the teacher and/or the appropriate school administrator.”

     Look for continuing coverage on local impacts from the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak here and in the Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.