Horry adopts mask ordinances as COVID records fall; surge in NC cases, mild report for Columbus

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     Record setting COVID case numbers for Horry County and adjacent North Carolina prove the coronavirus is not taking a holiday break.

     Horry County Council wrestled with what to do with those rising numbers during a telephone conference emergency meeting Friday evening, and approved a mask ordinance on an 8-4 vote.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • Divided Horry County Council adopts mask ordinance
  • Horry sets new daily COVID record, Loris & Green Sea impacted
  • Highest one-day case count in NC, just ten more in CC

Divided Horry County Council adopts mask ordinance

     Masks and other face coverings are required across Horry County, with a divided County Council approving an ordinance at the end of a contentious hour-long telephone conference emergency meeting Friday evening.

     Council voted 8-4, with Chairman Johnny Gardner’s yes vote saved until last.

     District 1 Councilman Harold Worley, who owns businesses in North Myrtle Beach already operating under a similar ordinance approved by the city, emerged as the chief proponent for the new county ordinance, bristling at an amendment offered by District 7 Councilman Orton Bellamy to remove requirements that the public wear masks in businesses, but to encourage that action.

     Councilmen Paul Prince and Al Allen, from Districts 9 and 11 respectively, were among the most forceful opponents of the ordinance as written, calling it unenforceable and a “paper tiger” that law enforcement officers would not have the resources to pursue.

     Worley called the amendment a “kill pill” and said it would gut the intent of the ordinance, to help slow the spread of COVID-19, which all council members agreed was rising at an alarming rate and threatening to overwhelm hospitals.

     District 5 Councilman Tyler Servant said Conway Hospital beds are all filled, the hospital at capacity currently as COVID cases to continue to climb. Horry County recorded its highest number of COVID cases of the pandemic on Friday,, state data showed.

     Council’s 8-4 vote for the county law, as written, included yes votes from districts 1-7, no from districts 9-11, with the chairman’s vote a yes.

     Yes votes were from Harold Worley, Bill Howard, Dennis DiSabato, Gary Loftus, Tyler Servant, Cam Crawford, and Orton Bellamy.

     No votes were from Johnny Vaught, Paul Prince, Danny Hardee, and Al Allen.

     A copy of the proposed ordinance was not made available to reporters before the meeting. A copy was made available later, and can be viewed here.

 Horry sets new daily COVID record, Loris & Green Sea impacted

     Crossing the 200 case count for the third time in a week, Horry County’s recorded daily county for newly confirmed COVID-19 cases has hit a record at 236, Friday’s data from South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control shows.

     After recording just 85 newly confirmed coronavirus cases exactly a week ago, DHEC data showed a surge to 214 cases last Saturday, 228 cases on July 1, leading to today’s (Friday) record count.

     Nine new cases were recorded in the Loris Zip Code, DHEC data showed, that total now 261; while one new case in the Green Sea area brings that total to 17.

     Surging case numbers have prompted local laws requiring the wearing of face masks in certain public settings along the Grand Strand, including Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach. Horry County Council adopted a similar local law Friday evening. (See the story above).

     South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has strongly encouraged the wearing of face masks and social distancing efforts, but said he would not issue an executive order mandating mask wearing, calling that unenforceable.

     Statewide South Carolina has recorded 41,413 COVID confirmed cases since the pandemic began, an increase of 1,558 from Thursday, with 787 people across the state who have died of the disease, 10 more than Thursday.

     A total of 1,148 Palmetto State residents were reported hospitalized for coronavirus complications Friday, 23 more than the day before.

Highest one-day case count in NC, just ten more in CC

     COVID-19 is not taking a holiday in North Carolina, with the state Friday reporting its highest one-day number of laboratory-confirmed cases – 2,099 people newly confirmed as infected.

     Another record was set Friday, data from the NC Department of Health and Human Services reported, with 951 people currently hospitalized across the state with the coronavirus.

     Columbus County recorded a relatively mild day Friday, DHHS data showed, with just ten newly confirmed cases and no new deaths, a marked contrast to the statewide trend.

     “We are seeing significant spread of the virus and it is very concerning,” DHHD Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said. “Today we have the highest reported day of new cases and hospitalizations – and that should be a warning to us all as we go into this holiday weekend. We don’t get a holiday from COVID-19. We all need to wear a face covering, avoid crowds, and wash our hands often.”

     Also concerning, a DHHS news release said, was the percentage of positive tests, 11 percent Friday among labs that report both negative and positive tests results, “the highest percentage North Carolina has seen since late April when the state was doing more targeted testing.”

     Zip Code data from DHHS showed Tabor City with three new cases, the pandemic total now 126; Whiteville cases up from 149 to 151; and single new cases in Chadbourn, Hallsboro and Bolton bringing those totals to 78, 43, and 18.

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.