Face coverings required as NC pauses reopening, COVID cases rise

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     Face coverings will be required in most public settings in North Carolina effective Friday afternoon, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday, as COVID-19 cases continued to rise rapidly both in the Tarheel State and to the south, with both Columbus and Horry counties seeing more cases of the coronavirus.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • Face coverings required as NC pauses reopening
  • Columbus records 20 COVID cases in two days
  • In Horry, 218 coronavirus infections since Monday

Face coverings required as NC pauses reopening

     Troubling trends in the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic have prompted a pause to a potential Phase 3 or reopening the economy later this week, and resulted in a new Executive Order that requires the wearing of faces coverings in most public settings by most people, Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday afternoon.

Gov. Roy Cooper during Wednesday’s online news briefing

     Cooper spoke just hours after state reported its second highest number of COVID-19 related hospitalizations and newly diagnosed infections since the pandemic began.

     Gov. Cooper extended his Safer at Home Phase 2 Executive Order for another three weeks, its expiration now set for July 17, while ordering that face coverings must be worn when people are in public places as officials seek to stabilize concerning trends of increasing viral spread. His latest order, including the mandate to wear face masks, is effective at 5 p.m. this Friday, June 26.

     “North Carolina is relying on the data and the science to lift restrictions responsibly, and right now our increasing numbers show we need to hit the pause button while we work to stabilize our trends,” said Governor Cooper. “We need to all work together so we can protect our families and neighbors, restore our economy, and get people back to work and our children back to school.”

     State Department of Health and Human Services Director Dr. Mandy Cohen reported on troubling trends involving more lab confirmed COVID-19 cases, rates of positive tests hovering at ten percent that need to be half that, and numbers that have risen from the mid 500s to more than 900 of those requiring hospital care due to the virus.

     Face masks – part of the three Ws of wearing a mask, waiting at least six feet part, and washing hands frequently for more than 20 seconds – all can play a critical role in reversing these trends, Dr. Cohen said.

     “I know North Carolinians are strong, resilient and care deeply about our communities,” Dr. Cohen said. “We pride ourselves on helping our neighbors.

     “The best way we can do that now is by taking the simple action of wearing a face covering that covers your nose and mouth. If we each do our part, we can get back to the people and places we love.”

     Gov. Cooper’s order requires that face coverings be worn by employees and the public inside retails businesses, restaurants, in personal care businesses, in child care facilities and camps, in state government, in public or private transportation, and in a number of other business and health care settings where distancing of more than six feet is difficult or impossible.

     There are exceptions for those with medical exemptions, and for businesses patrons, such as restaurant patrons while sitting at their table.

     View a downloadable copy of Gov. Cooper’s Executive Order here.

Columbus records 20 COVID cases in two days

     Columbus County has recorded a 20-case spike on COVID-19 infections since Monday, state Department of Health and Human Resources data shows.

     Columbus County Health Department is currently releasing COVID data each Monday and Thursday, with the DHHS dashboard offering information in the interim, though that data sometimes lags behind that of the county agency.

     Columbus County is currently recording 484 coronavirus infections since the pandemic began, up from the 464 it reported Monday.

     Zip Code data: Tabor City recorded one new COVID case on Tuesday, four more Wednesday for a pandemic long total of 111, Zip Code data from the DHHS dashboard showed.

     That data showed the Clarendon and Whiteville areas with two new cases each since Monday, those total now 14 and 142;

     Statewide: North Carolina has recorded 56,174 confirmed COVID cases since the pandemic began, Wednesday’s DHHS data showed, that total up by 1,721 from Tuesday; with 1,271 deaths, 20 more than Tuesday; and 906 COVID patients in the hospital, a decrease of nine from the previous day.

     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.

In Horry, 218 coronavirus infections since Monday

     COVID-19 cases are exploding in Horry County, with 183 newly confirmed infections reported Wednesday by South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control the biggest one-day spice since the pandemic began.

     That followed 135 newly confirmed COVID cases for Horry reported Tuesday, a total of 318 people know to have been diagnosed with the coronavirus in two days, the county’s case total since the pandemic began now at 2,370.

     A total of 40 Horry residents are known to have died of COVID 19.

     In the Loris Zip Code 16 people have been confirmed with the disease since Monday, 10 between Monday and Tuesday, the rest reflected in Wednesday’s DHEC data which showed the Loris area with 207 confirmed cases.

     Green Sea area cases have held steady at 14 since Monday.

     Statewide South Carolina has recorded 27,842 COVID confirmed cases since the pandemic began, DHEC reported Wednesday, an increase of 1,291 from Tuesday, with 683 people across the state who have died of the disease, 10 more than Tuesday.

     A total of 832 Palmetto State residents were reported hospitalized for coronavirus complications Wednesday, an increase of 8 since Tuesday, 101 more than the 731 total reported Monday.

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.