NC heads towards Safer at Home Phase 2, some SC attractions to open, counties report new COVID cases

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     A Safer at Home move to Phase 2 of North Carolina’s reopening in the COVID-19 pandemic was announced by Gov. Roy Cooper Wednesday, not long after South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said many entertainment attractions and some sporting activities will be allowed to reopen in the Palmetto state.

     A big jump in COVID-19 infections was reported by the Columbus County Health Department Wednesday, 19 residents newly confirmed as infected with the coronavirus, while in Horry County there were eight more people confirmed with the disease.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • Safer at Home, a modified Phase 2 for NC Friday
  • Attractions to reopen in SC, Gov. says
  • Columbus reports 19 new COVID infections
  • Another eight cases in Horry

Safer at Home, a modified Phase 2 for NC Friday

     “Safer at Home,” a modified Phase 2 of North Carolina’s reopening in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, will begin at 5 p.m. Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cowan announced Wednesday.

     Much of that guidance is outlined in the governor’s latest Executive Order, which may be seen here.

     Gov. Cooper’s Phase 2 Safer at Home order will run through Friday, June 26, at least.

     Restaurants, personal care businesses including salons and barbers, pools and other businesses will be allowed to re-open with restrictions, many limited to 50 percent of their normal capacity with specific regulations and recommendations on sanitation and hygiene.

     Still closed will be bars, indoor entertainment venues including theaters, and public playgrounds.

     Both Gov. Cooper and Dr. Cowan said the modified plan was more restrictive than they had hoped, their caution based on a rising number of coronavirus cases in the state, driven at least in part by success in the field of testing, which has also increased significantly.

     “North Carolina is using the data to guide our decisions about when to lift COVID-19 restrictions, and overall our key indicators remain stable,” Cooper said. “Safer At Home Phase 2 is another careful step forward, and we have to continue taking this virus seriously to prevent a dangerous spike in infections.”

     “From the beginning, North Carolinians have joined together to confront this crisis,” Dr. Cowan said. “We need to rely upon one another to practice the three Ws as we begin leaving our homes more.

     “When we wear a face covering, wait six feet apart, and wash our hands often, we are showing we care for our loved ones and neighbors.”

     While the number of positive cases has risen, the percentage of positive finds in the total number of people tested has remained steady at about seven percent, Dr. Cowan said. Hospitalizations have remained steady, and the state’s hospitals have the capacity for the demand now, with a good buffer, she said.

     Safer at Home: Gov. Cooper is lifting his Stay at Home order, replacing it with a Safer at Home recommendation, especially for those at high risk for serious illness. He also continues to urge teleworking when possible.

     “Just because you can go more places doesn’t mean you always should,” Cooper said.

     Mass gathering limits in Phase 2 will be no more than 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors in most circumstances. These limits apply to the following: event venues; conference centers; stadiums and sports arenas; amphitheaters; and groups at parks or beaches.

     Childcare facilities, day camps and overnight camps will be open with enhanced cleaning and screening requirements. Retail businesses allowed to open in Phase 1 at 50 percent capacity will continue at that level.

     Public health recommendations are provided for worship services to practice enhanced social distancing and other cleaning and hygiene practices.

Attractions to reopen in SC, Gov. says

     A number of attractions will be allowed to reopen across South Carolina this weekend, Gov. Henry McMaster said Wednesday.

     Youth and adult sports leagues will be allowed to resume practice on May 30, with competitive play to begin June 15, the governor said.

     Both decisions were based on recommendations from the governor’s AccelerateSC planning group, which has been meeting for a month to establish “exhaustive safety guidelines for businesses that have been allowed to reopen,” a news release from the governor said.

     Those guidelines may be viewed here.

     Facilities that will be allowed to reopen this Friday, just in time for the Memorial Day weekend, include zoos, museums, aquariums, planetariums, historic buildings and sites, waterparks, amusement park rides, Go-Kart tracks, bingo facilities, and Miniature Golf.

     Youth activities include American Legion baseball, Little League, Dixie Youth, travel ball, kickball, soccer, and lacrosse, the governor said.

Columbus reports 19 new COVID infections

     With 19 newly confirmed cases Columbus County has recorded 278 residents who have tested positive for COVID-19.

     “Six of the new cases are connected to positive family members, six cases are work-related, and seven cases are still under investigation,” a health department news release said.

     “There have been 21 COVID-19 associated deaths in Columbus County.”

     By Zip Code: Hallsboro’s Zip Code recorded four additional people confirmed with COVID-19 Wednesday, that total jumping to five, the DHHS dashboard showed.

     Tabor City’s Zip Code recorded one new person confirmed with COVID-19 on Wednesday, that total now 72.

     Whiteville also saw an additional case confirmation, the total 69, Chadbourn’s total grew by two to 46.

     Precautions: “With the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continuing to rise in Columbus County, we are asking 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

     NC TOTALS: Statewide there are 20,122 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 100 North Carolina counties Wednesday, up by 422 from Tuesday, the DHHS reported. There were 702 North Carolina deaths attributed to COVID-19 Wednesday, 11 more than Tuesday; with 554 current hospitalizations, that number down by 31 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.

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.