Fifth COVID-19 case confirmed in Columbus, 51st in Horry as SC governor halts some short-term rentals and ramps up business closings

Drive through only means long lines at banks on the third of the month. See the story below. (Deuce Niven, TLT)

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     A fifth case of the coronavirus COVID-19 was confirmed in Columbus County Friday morning, just six days after the first two.

     In Horry County the 51st case was reported late Friday afternoon by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

     Meanwhile South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster on Friday ordered an immediate halt to hotels, motels and similar business providing lodging to anyone from federally identified COVID-19 hotspots in the US, and expanding his list of non-essential businesses that must close, effective Monday.

     This post will cover these topics:

  • Fifth COVID-19 case in Columbus, 51st in Horry
  • Visitors from “hot-spot’ locations barred from SC rentals
  • Governor expands non-essential business shutdown in SC
  • Help for small business
  • Horry Superintendent addresses commencement
  • Drive-through only means long lines at banks
  • Horry offices remain closed to the public, will shut down for Good Friday

Fifth COVID-19 case in Columbus, 51st in Horry

     Confirmation of the fifth COVID-19 case in Columbus County came Friday morning, six days after the first two were reported last Saturday morning, a Columbus County Health Department news release said.

     “The individual is recovering at home,” the news release said. “At this time, there has been no indication that this case is connected with any of the previous cases.”

     This may be an additional case of community spread, with the source of the infection unknown at this time.

     County health officials “will follow CDC guidelines to protect public health and limit the spread of infection,” the news release said. “Based on information provided by the individual, county public health officials will assess risks of exposure, and determine which, if any, additional measures are needed such as temperature and symptom checks, quarantine and/or testing.

     “We urge the public to take the necessary measures to stop the community transmission of COVID-19.”

     Regularly updated information from the Columbus County Health Department is available on its Facebook page here.

     Columbus County Health Department’s COVID-19 Call Center is also operating from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Call 910-640-6615 ext. 7045 or 7046.

Visitors from “hot-spot’ locations barred from SC rentals

     Gov. McMaster, in a late afternoon news conference, emphasized the word NOW as he announced the suspension of short-term rentals from COVID-19 hotspots identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

     He said that order would last “indefinitely.”

     Businesses impacted by the order include hotels, motels, vacation homes, condos, resorts, bed and breakfast, and time share facilities.

Governor expands non-essential business shutdown in SC

     Gov. McMaster said non-compliance with his previous order shutting down some non-essential businesses prompted him to expand the list of impacted businesses, with the newly impacted stores to be shut down by 5 p.m. Monday.

     Those businesses include furniture stores, jewelry stores, clothing and shoe stores, sporting goods stores, book stores, craft stores, music stores, and businesses selling luggage and leather goods and home furnishings.

     Specifically not included in the order, the governor said, are hardware, firearms, and home improvement businesses.

Help for small business

     Small businesses losses across the U.S. are staggering, more than 700,000 jobs lost as of Friday and the number still climbing as the COVID-19 crisis continues to grow, Congressman Tom Rice of South Carolina said in a video conference Thursday.

     “The coronavirus has hit us suddenly, overtaking the entire country,” Rice said. “It has hit and suffering small businesses. We have 1,700 restaurants on the Grand strand and more than 100,000 rental units. We need to retain framework for economy and get back and set-up and running quickly.”

     Rice said there are two loan programs, a payroll protection program and economic injury disaster loan, available to small businesses hard hit by government ordered closings in the wake of the pandemic.

     Local banks insured by the FDIC were notified by Thursday evening of the Small Business Administration guidelines regarding loans designed to keep small businesses afloat.

     For the most rapid assistance, businesses should contact banks they already have a relationship with and discuss options that will allow those businesses to continue to operate.

     Business owners will be required to present their 2018 tax returns and proof of payroll documents for the period of Feb. 15 through June 30, 2019.

     Under the Cares Act, $2.2 trillion has been earmarked for economic aid, including $350 billion to support small businesses, Rice said.

     Businesses disqualified for low interest emergency loans of up to $50,000 may still qualify to receive a $10,000 “forgivable” loan that will not have to be repaid if it is used to keep all employees on the payroll even while the business is loan.

     Business owners should contact their own accountant before committing to loans.

     SBA loans are for businesses of no more than 500 employees and nonprofits.

     For details business owners should visit sba.gov here or contact their local bank. – Jenn Causey

Horry Superintendent addresses commencement

     High school seniors in Horry County, like most across the country, are facing uncertainty as commencement day approaches in the midst of a global pandemic that has altered the course of education.

     Horry County Schools Supt. Dr. Rick Maxey in a letter to the Class of 2020 said because of state orders prohibiting mass gatherings “graduation and senior ceremonies may not be feasible this year.

     “However, we may have the opportunity to schedule ceremonies at an undetermined time in the future or maybe even schedule virtual ceremonies,” the letter said. “For now, all we can say is that we will release details regarding ceremonies once we learn more.”

     See the full letter here.

     Each high school principal will announce dates and times for seniors to safely pick up graduation announcements and supplies, the letter said, “in accordance with the restrictions placed upon the public by the Governor’s Office.

     “Please monitor your school’s website, social media, as well as your email for this upcoming information.”

Drive-through only means long lines at banks

     Banks, utilities, and other institutions with drive-through service have largely eliminated in-business visits in efforts to abide by social distancing guidelines during the COVID-19 crisis.

     That has been evident at many area banks since those practices began in recent weeks, and was particularly evident this week, with the first of the month Wednesday, the third on Friday.

     Fridays and the third of the month are among the busiest days at most banks. Falling together this month brought long lines, like this one at Tabor City’s State Employees Credit Union branch, where the line of cars at its single drive-through window wrapped completely around the building after noon on Friday.

Horry offices remain closed to the public, will shut down for Good Friday

     Horry County Government offices will remain closed to the public next week, and all meetings for next week either cancelled or postponed.

     Airports remain open, and limited court functions continue, a county news release said. State offices in county facilities remain open, as directed by the governor.

     As already scheduled, all county offices will be closed on Good Friday, April 10.

     “We strongly urge the public to handle business online where possible,” the news release said. “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.”

     County government’s emergency phone bank is closed for the weekend, and will re-open at 8 a.m. Monday. Its currently scheduled hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

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