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Three new COVID deaths in Horry; more ‘family gathering’ cases in Columbus prompt education effort; Welcome Back Committee set up; food distribution volunteers sought


     An urgent plea to practice social distancing and sanitation measures to combat COVID-19 in Columbus County comes as nine more people have been confirmed with the disease in the county, including six more from a previously reported “large family gathering.”

     Meanwhile, three new deaths and five new coronavirus cases in Horry County Tuesday followed the appointment of a new “Welcome Back Committee to aid in restarting the economy; and volunteers were sought by the United Way for a food distribution effort.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • Nine new COVID cases in Columbus, six more from ‘large family gathering’
  • Three more coronavirus deaths in Horry, five new cases
  • Welcome Back Committee established for Horry

Nine new COVID cases in Columbus, six more from ‘large family gathering’

     An urgent effort to spread awareness of COVID-19’s impact in Columbus County comes as the number of people infected with the coronavirus has passed 100, nine newly confirmed cases Tuesday bringing the total to 103.

     Eight people have died of COVID-19 complications, the most recent on Sunday.

     Six people associated with a previously identified “large family gathering” that took place in the county were among the nine newly confirmed with the disease, a Columbus County Health Department news release said. That brings to 19 the total number of people associated with that family gathering who have tested positive for COVID-19.

     None of those identified with the family gathering have died, County Health Director Kim Smith said Tuesday, but several have been hospitalized.

     Three other people newly tested positive were connected with other previous positive cases, the news release said. None of the nine new cases have been hospitalized.

     Smith would not identify the type of family gathering involved with the 19 cases, but said her agency is aware of at least three family gatherings that have violated Gov. Roy Cooper’s Executive Order on gatherings of more than 10 people, and social distancing guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the White House, and from others.

     “We have had funerals, birthday parties, a wedding reported to me,” Smith said.

     Smith and her agency have issued daily, at least, news releases on the impact of COVID-19 on the county. She has been freely available for newspaper and television issues, the agency has been active on social media, all in an effort to curb the growth of COVID-19 in the county. But the disease has spread rapidly, the county well ahead of most counties in the region in terms of raw numbers of deaths and infections, and even farther ahead of every area county when measured on the basis of population.

     “DID YOU KNOW” The Columbus County COVID-19 death rate is more than double the North Carolina state average,” flyers being distributed by the health department in partnership with Columbus Regional Healthcare System say. “Columbus County has one of the highest COVID-19 rates in southeastern North Carolina.”

     The flyer outlines the same steps both agencies have been pleading with the public to take to stop the spread of COVID-19.

     “We are handing out the flyers wherever we can,” Smith said. “In windshields, in doors, wherever.”

     For a downloadable copy of the flyer click here.

     Statewide there are 9,568 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 96 North Carolina counties Tuesday, the NC Department of Health and Human Services reported. There were 342 North Carolina deaths attributed to COVID-19 Tuesday, 36 more than Monday; with 463 current hospitalizations.

     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.

 Three more coronavirus deaths in Horry, five new cases

     Three more people in Horry County have died from COVID-19 complications, South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported Tuesday.

     All three were elderly, DHEC reported.

     Those were the first deaths reported in the county since last Monday, and brought that total to 15.

     Five newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Horry brought that total to 211. There have been inconsistencies in day-to-day reporting of the county numbers, a DHEC spokeswoman said, because investigations have revealed that some who died in Horry County were residents elsewhere, and those deaths have been reassigned to those counties.

     None of the individuals newly confirmed with COVID-19 lived in the Loris or Green Sea Zip Codes, DHEC data indicated.

     Statewide there have been 5,735 positive tests returned for COVID-19 in South Carolina, up by 123 from Monday. Fifteen additional deaths in the state reported Tuesday brings that total to 192.

Welcome Back Committee established for Horry

     Horry County is preparing to get back to business, County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner said Tuesday as he announced the formation of a working “Welcome Back” committee to address economic recovery following the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

     County Councilman Orton Bellamy will chair the committee which includes representatives from Conway, Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach, including Gardner, Richard Carroll, John Cassidy, Rick Elliott, Wayne Gray, Tyler Servant, Lance Thompson.

     County staff members to be represented on the committee include Police Chief Joe Hill, Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Tanner, Assistant County Administrator for Public Safety Randy Webster, Assistant County Administrator for Administration Barry Spivey and County Administrator Steve Gosnell.

     Representatives from each municipality in the county will be invited to take part, and other members may be appointed.

     “Horry County is one of the hardest hit areas in our state economically and we are going to have to work together and take action to ensure our businesses recover and are ready to welcome our residents and visitors,” Gardner said. “I’m certain that we have the right team in place to tackle this challenge and help us come back stronger than ever.”

     A meeting has not been scheduled, but will be soon, Gardner said. Specific details will be listed here.

United Way seeks food distribution volunteers

     A series of food distribution events in Horry County begins in Loris Thursday, and volunteers are needed, the United Way of Horry County says.

     United Way has partnered with Lowcountry Food Bank to organize these events, it said in a news release.

     “During the COVID-19 epidemic, many people are unemployed and struggling to make ends meet,” the news release said. “We want to be able to support our neighbors and give back in any way we can. We need volunteers to assist with our food distribution events.”

     Volunteers are needed an hour before each of the scheduled distributions is to begin. Those specifics include:

  • April 30: Loris Middle School, volunteers by 10 a.m., distribution at 11 a.m.
  • May 8: Whittemore Park Middle, volunteers by 1 p.m., distribution at 2 p.m.
  • May 14: Loris Middle School, volunteers by 10 a.m., distribution at 11 a.m.
  • May 14: Aynor Middle School, volunteers by 9:30 a.m., distribution at 10:30 a.m.
  • May 22: Socastee Elementary School, volunteers by 1 p.m., distribution at 2 p.m.

     For details, or to sign up to volunteer, visit here.


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