SC Gov. pushed for Sept. 8 school opening, parental choice; COVID outbreak at TCI; case reports for Horry, CC

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     Education, incarceration, and the COVID-19 pandemic come together in today’s coronavirus update.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • SC Gov. pushes for Sept. 8 school opening, parental choice
  • TCI COVID cases at 26
  • Horry infections up by 188
  • Coronavirus count creeps up in CC

SC Gov. pushes for Sept. 8 school opening, parental choice

     Gov. Henry McMaster’s school reopening plan for South Carolina emphasizes both the importance of getting children back into traditional classrooms and the practical need to give parents an option for distance learning.

     State and local education leaders, including Chairman Ken Richardson of the Horry County Board of Education, pushed back on McMaster’s emphasis on returning students to classrooms as COVID-19 cases continue to climb rapidly in most of South Carolina, including Horry County.

     Richardson said the governor’s plan ignores guidance from the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control recommending that classrooms remain closed in high disease spread areas like Horry.

     “Speaking for myself, and not on behalf of the board, I believe it is important to use our state’s disease experts to guide our decision making for when and how we return our students and employees of schools,” Richardson said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. “I intend to recommend to our board that we continue to follow DHEC’s guidance when we meet on Aug. 3 to vote on the district’s reopening plan.

     “For now, all I can say is that this is between the Governor’s Office and the State Superintendent’s Office.”

     State Supt. of Public Instruction Molly Spearman, who was not present for the governor’s announcement, pushed back on McMaster’s insistence that she reject any local plans that do not include in-person learning.

     McMaster said he would not issue an executive order on the topic, but that he wanted every local school district to include a combination of in-class and district learning in its plans.

     While Spearman said she agreed on the importance of children in a face-to-face learning environment, she could not “turn a blind eye to the health and safety of our students and staff when the spread of the virus in some of our communities is among the highest in the world.”

     Horry County Board of Education members on Monday set the opening day for the new school year for Sept. 8, said a plan for re-opening would be submitted to the state Board of Education by a deadline this Friday, but would not announce those details until the state board makes a decision on it.

TCI COVID cases at 26

     COVID-19 tests at Tabor Correctional Institution have returned 26 positive results of 83 inmates tested, updated NC Department of Public Safety data showed Wednesday.

     TCI recorded its first confirmed coronavirus case on July 7. Those positive results are among confirmed cases reported by the Columbus County Health Department.

     Mass testing began at some of the state’s prisons on June 18, but not yet at TCI or Columbus Correctional, the other state prison located in Columbus County. There, seven tests have been administered, all with negative results, NCDPS reports said.

     Most recover from COVID-19. Statewide 8,793 inmates have been tested, 1,052 returned positive results, and 802 have recovered.

     Six state inmates have died of COVID complications, three at Neuse Correctional, one each at Pender Correctional, the NC Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh, and the most recent reported Wednesday at Albemarle Correctional Institution.

Horry infections up by 188

     COVID-19 infections ticked up in Horry County Wednesday, with the latest data from South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control showing 188 newly confirmed cases.

     That brought the county’s total to 6,241 since the pandemic began, with no new deaths Wednesday, that total now 71.

     Zip Code data showed 14 of the new infections in the Loris area, a single new case in Green Sea, those pandemic totals now 361 and 30.

     South Carolina recorded 1,850 newly confirmed COVID cases Wednesday, no new deaths, bringing the pandemic totals now 62,071 and 984 respectively.

     COVID related hospitalizations rose again in South Carolina Wednesday, 1,560 people in the hospital due to the coronavirus, 10 more than Tuesday.

Coronavirus count creeps up in CC

     Only four new COVID-19 case confirmations for Columbus County were included in state Department of Health and Human Services data Wednesday.

     Columbus County Health Department COVID updates are given each Monday and Thursday, while DHHS data is updated online daily.

     DHHS showed Columbus with a pandemic total of 650 COVID cases Wednesday, with 39 total deaths, that grim statistic holding for more than two weeks now.

     Zip Code data, which is sometimes not in sync with the overall county data, showed the Tabor City area with three new cases, Wednesday, Whiteville with two. COVID case/death totals for those areas are now Tabor City 167/11; Whiteville 177/12; the DHHS data shows.

     North Carolina reported 1,782 new COVID infections and 16 new related deaths, the DHHS dashboard showed Wednesday. That brings the state’s pandemic total to 91,266 people infected with the coronavirus, 1,568 killed.

     Hospitalizations rose 33 Wednesday, the DHHS data showed, to 1,142

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.