By DEUCE NIVEN
A tenth Columbus County resident has died from COVID-19 complications, a dozen more have been newly confirmed positive for the coronavirus including residents of a Tabor City assisted living facility where 40 are known to be infected.
In Horry County four new COVID infections were reported Thursday.
Columbus County, also on Thursday, has extended its State of Emergency order, including a curfew, until at least May 8.
This post will cover these topics and will be updated:
- Tenth COVID death and 12 new cases in Columbus
- Forty at Tabor Commons COVID positive
- Another four with coronavirus in Horry
- Governor ‘hopeful’ to begin recovery stages May 8
- Columbus extends emergency declaration, curfew
Tenth COVID death and 12 new cases in Columbus
The tenth county resident claimed by COVID-19 died Thursday in a hospital, the Columbus County Health Department reported.
“The individual was one of the previously identified positive cases in Columbus County,” a health department news release said. “To protect the families’ privacy, no further information about this individual will be released.
“We offer our deepest condolences and sympathies to all of the individuals’ family and friends in this very difficult time.”
With 12 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases Thursday, there have been 153 people known to have contracted the disease, the news release said, including seven “connected to congregate living facilities.”
Tabor Commons Assisted Living in Tabor City earlier Thursday confirmed 40 cases there, including two members of its staff. See that story below.
One of the new Columbus County cases is connected to a COVID-19 outbreak at the Smithfield Foods facility in Tar Heel, and one case remains under investigation, the health department reported.
“With the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continuing to rise in Columbus County, we are BEGGING the public to take the necessary measures to stop the transmission of COVID-19,” the news release said. “The Columbus County Health Department would like to remind everyone of the recommended measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which are:
- Social distancing (e.g. avoiding crowds, self-quarantining, no mass gatherings, only going out in public when necessary)
- Wearing a mask or face covering when in public places
- Washing hands frequently with soap and water, and for at least 20 seconds each time
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are ill
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, throw it away, and then wash your hands
- Do not reuse tissue after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
Statewide there are 10,509 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 98 North Carolina counties Wednesday, up by 561 from Wednesday, the NC Department of Health and Human Services reported. There were 378 North Carolina deaths attributed to COVID-19 Wednesday, 24 more than Wednesday; with 548 current hospitalizations, that number down by five from the day before.
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.
Forty at Tabor Commons COVID positive
Widespread testing that followed the first confirmed coronavirus cases there during the weekend has shown 40 people infected, including two staff members who were not showing symptoms, RenCare Solutions President Lauren Reavis Ware said Thursday said.
“This is a very scary reality with this disease in that some carriers are not exhibiting any outward warning signs or symptoms,” Ware said.
Licensed for 80 residents, Tabor Commons had 68 when the current outbreak began, Ware said.
“I know many from the outside looking in will have questions about our efforts, and many people will wonder if we did everything we could to keep this out,” Ware said. “My answer to them is simply – Yes, we tried, we all tried really hard – no one wants this for their family – these residents and our co-workers are our family.
“So we also ask for kindness and understanding as these are times like none of us have ever seen and there are a lot of things unfortunately outside of our control.”
Phone lines have been exceptionally busy at Tabor Commons with family members and others calling to ask about residents, Ware said.
“We ask that friends and loved ones please contact our resident’s main point of contact or next of kin for updates,” Ware said. “We are working hard to connect with families and keep them as updated as possible through our resident’s designated contact.
“I want to assure families and friends we are attempting to update them as soon as we have any news, and we will be making routine calls throughout this outbreak to make sure they stay informed.”
Ware said RenCare leadership is grateful for the efforts of staff and community support during the pandemic.
“We again want to thank our greater community for their care and concern as we all navigate these uncharted waters together,” Ware said. “Our top priority is helping our residents maintain their health during this crisis and we are working hard to that end.
“We are so proud of and thankful for our amazing staff members who have continued to show up during this outbreak. Words can not express our gratitude for their willingness to be on the frontline caring for our residents.”
“We will continue to work closely with and follow the leadership in our county and state including the Department of Health Service Regulation, the Office of Emergency Management, Columbus County Department of Social Services, and the Columbus County Department of Public Health to do what is best for our residents and staff. We sincerely appreciate everything they have all provided in the way of leadership, advice, guidance, and supplies.”
Another four with coronavirus in Horry
Testing has confirmed four more people in Horry County infected with COVID-19, the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control reported Thursday.
There no newly confirmed cases Wednesday for the first time in weeks.
To date the county has recorded 215 confirmed COVID cases resulting in 15 deaths. Zip Code data from DHEC shows the Loris area with 17 cases, the Green Sea Zip Code with one. None of the four new cases reported Thursday appeared to be in the Loris or Green Sea Zip Codes.
Statewide there have been 6,095 positive tests returned for COVID-19 in South Carolina, up by 220 from Wednesday. Twelve additional deaths in the state reported Thursday, and a review of some deaths in the state not previously reported as COVID-19 related, brings the total number of statewide deaths linked to the disease to 244, DHEC reported.
Governor ‘hopeful’ to begin recovery stages May 8
Gov. Roy Cooper says he is “hopeful” that the first of an extended three-phase recovery process coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic can begin next week, on May 8, when his current State of Emergency declaration is set to expire.
Gov. Cooper and state Department of Health and Human Services Director Dr. Mandy Cowan outlined the data they are watching, in hopes of beginning to ease restrictions next week, starting with ending the stay-at-home order that has kept many largely in place for weeks.
“We remain hopeful that the trends will be stable enough to move to state one (of the reopening plan) next week,” the governor said.
Until then, both Gov. Cooper and Dr. Cowan urged people to abide by all of the governor’s orders, limiting gatherings to fewer than ten, practicing social distancing and hygiene methods to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus.
“Complacency costs lives and delay our ability to begin to reopen our economy,” Cooper said.
Columbus extends emergency declaration, curfew
With some minor revisions Columbus County has extended its State of Emergency Declaration, including a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, through May 8. That’s the same day that North Carolina’s emergency declaration is due to expire.
County Commissioners Edwin Russ signed the amended order with “additional prohibitions and restrictions” at noon Thursday, effective on Friday, May 1, “and shall remain in effect until May 8, 2020, unless modified or rescinded prior to said date,” the declaration said.
Restated in the amended order is the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily curfew in unincorporated areas of the county, “except for healthcare emergencies, healthcare workers, emergency first responders, travel to or from work, or assistance with emergency response to Novel Coronavirus.”
Remaining closed under the declaration are “all public playgrounds, public playground equipment and exercise stations, public team sport facilities, public golf courses, and public gardens.”
Hotels, motels, and other short-term lodging businesses will also remain closed, including campgrounds, with an exception for campgrounds “that have a written designation as an essential business from the North Carolina Department of Revenue,” the order said. Campgrounds that open “must restrict group activities, group gatherings, and follow social distancing guidelines set forth by the CDC.”
Yogi Bear Campground at Daddy Joe’s and Carrollwoods RV Park have both obtained the Department of Revenue designation, and are scheduled to begin accepting new campers Friday.
Look for continuing coverage on local impacts from the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak here and in the Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.