Phase 2 extended in NC with a focus on schools; Horry Board of Ed makes reopening decision; local COVID updates

Dr. Mandy Cohen talks COVID trends during Wednesday news briefing.

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     Getting the new school year started safely is the intent of the Horry County Board of Education, with an all-virtual option for parents approved Tuesday.

     It was a focus for Gov. Roy Cooper as he announced a five-week extension of the state’s Phase 2 Safer at Home reopening from the statewide closing forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

     Lives lost and newly confirmed cases of the virus were also reported for Horry and Columbus on Wednesday.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • Governor extends NC Phase 2 reopening for 5 weeks
  • Horry Schools plan all virtual option
  • COVID claims two lives, infects 82 more in Horry
  • Columbus records 13 more coronavirus infections

Governor extends NC Phase 2 reopening for 5 weeks

     Entertainment venues, bars and gyms will remain closed under North Carolina’s Phase 2 Safer at Home pandemic reopening plan through Sept. 11, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday.

     That order, previously extended by three weeks, was set to expire this Friday. Gov. Cooper ordered it extended for another five weeks, the decision based data detailed by NC Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen.

     “Other states that lifted restrictions quickly have had to go backward as their hospital capacity ran dangerously low and their cases jumped higher,” Gov. Cooper said. “We will not make that mistake in North Carolina.

     “In keeping with our dimmer switch approach with schools opening, and in order to push for decreasing numbers which will keep people healthier and boost our economy, North Carolina will remain paused in Safer At Home Phase 2 for 5 weeks.”

     “School openings are a significant phase in our response,” Dr. Cohen said.

     Infection rates and hospitalizations related to COVID-19 are relatively stable, but still too high, Dr. Cohen said.

     “Overall there are signs of stability, but there is still much work to do.”

Horry Schools plan all virtual option

     A virtual beginning to the new school year in September has been approved by the Horry County Board of Education, with final approval pending from the South Carolina Board.

     Parents will have options, either all-virtual or a full-time brick-and-mortar option.

     Current state guidelines call for all distant learning for counties experiencing high virus activity, Supt. Dr. Rick Maxey. Horry County and the rest of the state is currently rated at experiencing high virus activity.

     Disease activity is showing signs of dropping, but not enough yet to reach medium activity.

     Teachers and staff will be required to report to their schools.

     Parents have until Aug. 10 to let the school district know if their child will be full-time distance learning or on campus. Students enrolled in the virtual program will still be allowed to take part in sports and other activities that they could attend if on campus.

     Some courses will not be available on the virtual platforms, said the district’s chief academic officer, Boone Myrick.

     Face coverings will be required for all students and staff on buses and in school buildings, that order issued by S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman.

     School in Horry County is scheduled to begin Sept. 8, the original Aug. 13 opening delayed by the board on July 13.

COVID claims two lives, infects 82 more in Horry

     Two new COVID-19 related deaths and another 82 residents testing positive for the virus were reported for Horry County by the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control Wednesday.

     Those deaths included a middle aged person and elderly individual, the DHEC data showed.

     Pandemic totals for Horry reached 8,288 cases and 138 deaths Wednesday, the DHEC data showed. Three of the new cases were in the Loris Zip Code, the pandemic total there now 494, Green Sea’s total unchanged at 35.

     Statewide South Carolina reported 1,175 new COVID cases Wednesday, and 45 new deaths, the pandemic totals now 94,837 and 1,819 respectively.

Columbus records 13 more coronavirus infections

     Another 13 Columbus County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, with no additional deaths noted, North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services reported Wednesday.

     Columbus County Health Department is expected to release its second of two weekly pandemic reports on Thursday.

     Zip Code data showed Tabor City with four of the new cases, the pandemic total now 209; Whiteville with five new cases bringing its total to 241.

     North Carolina reported 1,127 new COVID infections and 40 new related deaths Wednesday, the pandemic total now 129,288 cases, 2,050 deaths.

     Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 were up by a single person Wednesday, the total now 1,167.

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.