Three more COVID cases in Columbus, 42 recoveries; seven more in Horry; free drive-up testing opens in Whiteville Friday; a focus on mental health in a pandemic

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     Physical and mental health concerns are getting attention during the COVID-19 pandemic, with Walmart in Whiteville hosting drive-up testing for the coronavirus starting Friday, by appointment only, and advice on taking care of your mental health by officials in South Carolina.

     Three more Columbus County residents have tested positive for the coronavirus, the county health department reported Thursday, with seven new confirmations in Horry.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • COVID-19 testing site in Whiteville opens Friday
  • Columbus reports three new COVID cases, 42 recoveries
  • Horry case count up by seven
  • A mental health focus during pandemic

COVID-19 testing site in Whiteville opens Friday

     COVID-19 drive-through testing is coming to the Walmart parking lot in Whiteville, beginning Friday.

     Supported by Walmart, eTrueNorth and state and local officials, the site will be available to test anyone who meets CDC, state and local guidelines on who should be tested, a Columbus County Health Department news release said.

     Those who meet guidelines include “first responders, health care providers and others with symptoms of COVID-19 and those in high-risk groups without symptoms,” the news release said.

     Those interested in being tested need to visit DoINeedaCOVID19test.com, here to see if they are eligible for testing and to make an appointment.

     “Walmart is part of the community, and is proud to help support the expansion of COVID-19 testing in Whiteville during this unprecedented time,” said Brooke Mueller, Walmart Public Affairs Director for North Carolina. “We are grateful to our associates who keep our stores running, our pharmacists who support these testing sites, and to eTrueNorth and local officials as we work together to open the site and help our community.”

COVID-19 testing site details

  • Scheduled hours for the site ate 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, weather permitting.
  • Appointments must be made through eTrueNorth’s online portal here, which will screen individuals to ensure they meet CDC eligibility for testing.
  • For questions regarding testing, call 800-635-8611.
  • Those being tested will need to wear a mask and stay in their cars for verification of eligibility criteria, ID check and self-administered test. For the safety of all those on-site, the test site is not available to those who walk up.
  • The site will use a self-administered nasal swab test that will allow those being tested to swab their own nose onsite while in their vehicles, observed by a trained medical volunteer to ensure the sample is taken correctly, and then dropped in the sealed sample into a container on their way out of the drive-through site.
  • eTrueNorth will handle processing test samples and communicating results to those tested with the Columbus County Health Department.
  • The site will be staffed by Walmart healthcare professionals
  • Please note, testing is not available inside Walmart stores.
  • While individuals who are tested are awaiting results, they should follow CDC guidelines and take steps to help prevent the virus from spreading in the home and community.

     Walmart in Whiteville is located at 200 Columbus Corners Drive, off of US 701 South.

Columbus reports three new COVID cases, 42 recoveries

     An additional three Columbus County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, while 42 have recovered from the disease the county’s health department reported Thursday.

     That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Columbus to 229, with 17 people who have lost their lives to the coronavirus, the last two reported Tuesday.

     “One of the new cases is connected to a positive family member living in the same household, one case is connected to a large family gathering, and one case is connected to a congregate living facility in Columbus County,” a health department news release said.

     Workplace practices have helped to define the 42 people who have “completely recovered from COVID-19 in Columbus County,” the news release said. “Many workplaces require at least two negative COVID-19 tests within 24 hours in order for individuals who no longer have symptoms to return to work after having COVID-19.

     “Retesting many previously positive individuals found that, while they are no longer experiencing symptoms, they are continuing to test positive. Therefore, we cannot consider them recovered.

     “Due to several COVID-19 outbreaks at congregate living facilities and the course of the disease lasting longer than 30 days for many individuals, we are continuing to process recoveries every day. We will be providing another update on COVID-19 recoveries next week.”

     By Zip Code: Two newly confirmed COVID cases were shown in the Tabor City Zip Code Thursday, bringing that total to 68, the DHHS dashboard showed. Two more cases were also shown in the Cerro Gordo Zip Code, bringing that number to ten, While five new cases were recorded in the Whiteville area, that total now 62, and Fair Bluff showed one additional case.

     Precautions: As case counts continue to rise in Columbus County, the health department has almost daily issued pleas to the pubic “to take the necessary measures to stop the transmission of COVID-19.”

     Those steps recommended to prevent the spread of COVID-19, include:

  • 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

     NC TOTALS: Statewide there are 16,507 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 99 North Carolina counties Thursday, up by 691 from Wednesday, the DHHS reported. There were 615 North Carolina deaths attributed to COVID-19 Thursday, 18 more than Wednesday; with 507 current hospitalizations, that number down by 14 from the day before.

     CC Health Updates: 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.

Horry

     Seven more people in Horry County have been confirmed with COVID-19, South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control reported Thursday.

     With the latest report Horry County has recorded 278 people testing positive for the disease since the pandemic began and 18 deaths.

     Zip Code data shows 32 of those cases in the Loris Zip Code, one in the Green Sea area, none of those new on Thursday.

     Statewide there have been 8,189 positive tests returned for COVID-19 in South Carolina, up by 172 from Wednesday; with 371 related deaths, that number up by nine from Wednesday.

A mental health focus during pandemic

     Mental health is always important, and during the COVID-19 pandemic it’s especially important, South Carolina public health and mental health leaders say.

     In recognition of Mental Health Month, South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and Department of Mental Health (DMH) encourage South Carolinians to find the balance that works for them.

     “During these uncertain times, we understand that many South Carolinians may have feelings of stress and anxiety,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist. “It is also important for all of us, especially those of us who are most vulnerable to getting sick from the virus, to protect our mental and emotional health.”

     “These last weeks have reminded Americans that each of us must be as vigilant about our mental health as we are our physical health,” said DMH State Director Kenneth Rogers, MD. “Though these are difficult and confusing times, we want to remind our community that maintaining our mental health is important not only in times like these, but always.”

     In addition to taking precautions to stop the spread of germs, DHEC and DMH encourage South Carolinians to take the following steps to help protect your mental and emotional health:

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories and social media. Hearing about COVID-19 or other stress-inducing issues repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body: eat healthy, well-balanced meals; exercise regularly; get plenty of sleep; and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind and participate in activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.It is OK to need assistance to stay mentally healthy.

     To help increase awareness of mental health and coping with stress, DHEC and DMH have partnered to produce a Public Service Announcement (PSA) focused on promoting the steps listed above. To view the PSA, click here. A Spanish translation version of the PSA is available here.

     In addition, DMH has made resources on managing anxiety and stress available on its webpage here. Its community mental health centers statewide are open and accepting new patients, with no referral needed.

     To find the center closest to you, visit here. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call DMH’s statewide Community Crisis Response and Intervention line 24 hours a day, seven days a week, toll-free, at (833) DMH-CCRI (833-364-2274).

     Visit the National Suicide Prevention Hotline here or call 800-273-8255.

Updates

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