A lawmaker tests positive, last call order, and mask proclamation as COVID toll, cases keep rising

SC Department of Revenue Director Hartley Powell talks of Gov. Henry McMaster’s new executive order and its impact on about 8,000 bars and restaurants across the state during a news conference Friday. (Screenshot from SCETV)

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to evolve in the Tabor-Loris Community and across the Carolinas, with an area lawmaker contracting the disease, an order for bars to close early, a new mask and social distancing proclamation, and more coronavirus deaths and cases all reported Friday.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • Sen. Britt tests COVID positive
  • SC Governor limits on-premise alcohol sales
  • Loris Mayor issues mask proclamation
  • Two new coronavirus deaths, 172 more cases in Horry
  • Columbus records 17 additional cases

Sen. Britt tests COVID positive

     State Sen. Danny Britt has tested positive for COVID-19, the Robeson County Republican who also represents Columbus County said Friday.

     Britt’s confirmation came after Senate Leader Phil Berger announced that a member of the Republican Caucus has received a positive COVID test earlier in the day. Berger did not identify the member.

     Britt, responding to a tweet from Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, a Wake County Democrat, identified himself as the infected lawmaker.

     “The ‘proactive’ action would have been for the Republican Senate Caucus to mandate their members #WearADamnMask,” Chaudhuri tweeted in response to Berger’s news release.

     Britt, a member of the NC National Guard, responded: “My apologies my friend I was actually the one who tested positive and though I wear a mask on occasion I do not always. I developed a medical condition serving in Iraq in 06-07 and Kuwait in 11-12. That condition causes extreme difficulty in breathing in wearing masks.”

SC Governor limits on-premise alcohol sales

     Tonight will be the last to enjoy late night libations in South Carolina bars and restaurants, Gov. Henry McMaster said in an executive order issues Friday.

     Effective at 11 p.m. Saturday, bars, restaurants, and other retail establishments licensed for on-premise consumption of alcoholic beverages will not be allowed to make those sales after that hour until further notice.

     Gov. McMaster said the order, which has the force of law and will be enforced by state agencies, is a direct response to the exploding numbers of COVID-19 cases across the state, with growing impacts on younger people, especially young adults who have been ignoring public health warnings by gathering in large numbers in bars without masks and without social distancing.

     “We know that young adults who are rapidly contracting the virus and spreading it into our communities frequently congregate in late-night atmospheres which simply are not conducive to stopping its continued transmission,” Gov. McMaster said. “This measured, carefully tailored approach will lessen the opportunity for South Carolinians to put themselves and their loved ones in harm’s way.”

     Sales of alcohol in grocery stores, convenience stores, and other locations for off-premise consumption is not impacted by the order, the governor said.

     State Health Director Dr. Joan Duwve said 42 percent of the more than 52,000 people who have contracted COVID-19 across the state during the pandemic have been confirmed with the disease in the past two weeks, and that currently about 22 percent of those found with the disease are ages 21 to 30, another 15 percent 20 and younger.

     Dr. Duwve encouraged everyone, especially young adults, to observe safe practices including wearing masks in public, maintaining at least six feet of social distance, and washing hands often.

     With those steps, and others, Dr. Duwve said South Carolinians “can draw a line in the sand at the beach.”

Loris Mayor issues mask proclamation

     Echoing pleas from South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster the mayor of Loris has issued a proclamation urging the use of face coverings and social distancing to help combat COVID-19.

     Signed by Mayor Todd Harrelson this week, the document is “proclaiming the use of social distancing and face masks as an instrumental tool in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and request that all the citizens and visitors of the city of Loris respect others and do their part.”

     Gov. McMaster has bristled at the prospect of issuing an executive order requiring the wearing of face masks, causing that unenforceable. But he has repeatedly implored everyone in the state to do their part to slow the spread of the disease that has claimed hundreds of lives, and sickened tens of thousands across the state, more than 5,000 in Horry County alone.

     “Despite our efforts, businesses and schools have suffered,” Gov. McMaster said during a news conference Friday. “Older people are isolated from their loved ones. It’s time for our younger adults to behave like older adults. Wear your mask, wear your mask, wear your mask.”

     Harrelson’s proclamation recognizes that many businesses have listened the recommendations from the governor, state and federal health officials.

     “Most retail business establishments have taken measures to implement social distancing by placing markers six feet apart and or requiring employees to wear masks,” the proclamation said. – Jenn Causey

Two new coronavirus deaths, 172 more cases in Horry

     COVID-19 continued its march across Horry on Friday, with two county residents confirmed claimed by the disease, another 172 newly confirmed infected, data from South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control reported.

     A total of 64 Horry residents have died of COVID complications since the pandemic began, 5,375 have been infected, DHEC data showed.

     Six of the newly confirmed cases were in the Loris Zip Code, DHEC data showed, bringing that total to 313. In the Green Sea area 24 have been infected, that number unchanged Friday.

     Statewide South Carolina has recorded 52,273 COVID confirmed cases since the pandemic began, an increase of 1,725 from Thursday, with 922 people across the state who have died of the disease, 25 more than Thursday.

     A total of 1,438 Palmetto State residents were reported hospitalized for coronavirus complications Thursday, 5 more than Tuesday.

Columbus records 10 additional cases

     Coronavirus continues to infect Columbus County residents at a steady rate, with at least 10 newly confirmed cases reported by North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services Friday.

     Columbus County Health Department reports COVID data each Monday and Thursday, while DHHS reports its data daily, its totals sometimes lagging the county.

     Columbus County’s data Thursday showed a pandemic total of 592 cases, DHHS reported 602 cases Friday, up by 17 from the state’s 585 count for the county Thursday.

     There have been no recent COVID deaths in Columbus, that total now 39.

     Zip Code: Whiteville recorded four new COVID cases Friday, the DHHS data showed, Chadbourn three more, Tabor City two. Lake Waccamaw also showed two new cases, Evergreen, Hallsboro and Riegelwood one new case each.

     Tabor City, the Zip Code data shows, has a pandemic total of 139 cases and 11 deaths.

     Statewide: North Carolina’s pandemic total of COVID cases reached 81,331 Friday, up by 1,982 from Thursday, with 1,479 people claimed by the virus, that up by 18 from Thursday.

     DHHS data showed 1,046 of the state’s residents currently hospitalized with the coronavirus, the highest count of the pandemic and up by 12 from Thursday.

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.