Columbus reports 18th COVID death, nine new cases; one of four new Horry cases in Green Sea; NC DHHS updates testing guidance

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     Another COVID-19 death in Columbus County and more new cases were reported Friday, while in Horry County six new cases were reported, a second in the Green Sea area.

     In North Carolina state health leaders issued updated guidance on who should be tested for the coronavirus.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • 18th COVID death in Columbus, nine new cases
  • Horry records six more positive tests, one in the Green Sea area
  • NC DHHS updates guidance on who should be tested

18th COVID death in Columbus, nine new cases

     Another Columbus County resident has died of COVID-19 complications, the 18th person claimed since the pandemic began, and nine more have been confirmed infected with the coronavirus, the Columbus County Health Department reported Friday.

     Previously identified as testing positive with COVID-19, the latest victim of the disease in Columbus County died Thursday in a hospital, a health department news release said.

     “To protect the families’ privacy, no further information about these individuals will be released,” the news release said. “We offer our deepest condolences and sympathies to all of the individuals’ family and friends in this very difficult time.”

     With nine new confirmed cases Columbus County has 238 residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, the health department reported.

     “Four of the new cases are connected to a congregate living facility in Columbus County, four cases are connected to positive family members, and the source of infection could not be found for one case.

     By Zip Code: There was no change in the Columbus County numbers posted to the DHHS dashboard on Friday. It was not clear why, but DHHS data sometimes lags behind that reported by the counties.

     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 17,129 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 99 North Carolina counties Friday, up by 622 from Thursday, the DHHS reported. There were 641 North Carolina deaths attributed to COVID-19 Friday, 26 more than Thursday; with 492 current hospitalizations, that number down by 15 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

     Six more people in Horry County have been confirmed with COVID-19, one apparently from the Green Sea area, South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control reported Friday.

     With the latest report Horry County has recorded 283 people testing positive for the disease since the pandemic began and 18 deaths.

     Zip Code data shows two of those cases from the Green Sea area, one more than previously reported, and 32 cases in the Loris Zip Code, that number unchanged from Thursday.

     Statewide there have been 8,407 positive tests returned for COVID-19 in South Carolina, up by 232 from Thursday; with 380 related deaths, that number up by nine from Thursday.

NC DHHS updates guidance on who should be tested

     Updated guidance on who should be tested was issued by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Friday, and announced by DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cowan during a news briefing.

     Responding to a question seeking clarification, Dr. Cowan said the guidance is directed primarily at clinicians, doctors, physicians and others, to give them more clarity “on who should be tested for COVID-19. The new guidance recommends that clinicians test any patient in whom COVID-19 is suspected.”

     Regardless of symptoms, certain populations should have access to testing, the DHHS guidance says. Those populations include:

  • Anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19
  • Close contacts of known positive cases, regardless of symptoms
  • Persons who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings (e.g., long-term care facility, homeless shelter, correctional facility, migrant farmworker camp)
  • Persons who are at high risk of severe illness (e.g., people over 65 years of age, people of any age with underlying health conditions)
  • Persons who come from historically marginalized populations
  • Health care workers or first responders (e.g. EMS, law enforcement, fire department, military)
  • Front-line and essential workers (grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, etc.) in settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain

     “We want anyone who needs a test to get one,” Dr. Cowan said. “This is particularly important for those at high-risk for severe illness, those at greatest risk for exposure and those who are being disproportionately impacted by this virus.”

     Free, drive-up testing is available Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the Walmart parking lot in Whiteville. For details see the related story here.

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.