More area COVID deaths, cases; fall sports next spring; state support for business launches

DHHS Secretary described North Carolina’s COVID-19 metrics as stable but fragile during a new briefing with Gov. Roy Cooper Thursday. Gov. Cooper announced a new state program to aid business and non-profits impacted by the pandemic. See that story below.

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     Another five COVID-19 related deaths in Horry County, 51 confirmed coronavirus cases in Columbus since Monday, were reported by state and local agencies Thursday.

     In the North Carolina high school fall sports are moving to spring, and a new state program is intended to provide a lifeline for businesses and non-profits hit hard by the ongoing pandemic.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • Horry records five new COVID-19 deaths, 37 more cases
  • Columbus reports 51 coronavirus cases since Monday
  • NCHSAA moves fall sports to spring
  • State program launches for business, non-profits

Horry records five new COVID-19 deaths, 37 more cases

     Five newly reported COVID-19 related deaths involving Horry County residents include two middle aged individuals, Thursday’s data from South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control showed.

     With those deaths Horry’s pandemic total of deaths is 161, total cases are 8,706 with 37 newly confirmed infections reported Thursday.

     COVID related deaths in Horry occurred at a rate of one a day, the DHEC data showed, from Aug. 7 through 11. Elderly individuals died of coronavirus complications on Aug. 7, 9 and 11, middle aged persons on Aug. 8 and 10.

     Zip Code data showed the Loris area with a pandemic total of 512 cases, Green Sea with 35. Loris showed two new cases between Wednesday and Thursday.

     Statewide South Carolina reported 907 new COVID cases and 35 new deaths between Wednesday and Thursday, the pandemic totals now 103,051 and 2,089 respectively.

     There were 1,322 COVID patients being treated in South Carolina hospitals Thursday, that number up by 44 from Wednesday.

 Columbus reports 51 coronavirus cases since Monday

     Lab testing has confirmed 51 more COVID-19 infections involving Columbus County residents since Monday, the county’s health department reported in its second and final pandemic update for the week on Thursday.

     That brings the pandemic total of coronavirus among county residents to 959, with 48 related deaths, none this week, the health department reported.

     There was a notable spike in newly confirmed cases Wednesday, 22 reported. Another 15 were confirmed Monday, in addition to 5 reported by the department that day; with 5 more on Tuesday, and 9 today (Thursday).

     “There are approximately 168 active COVID-19 cases in Columbus County,” a health department news release said. Five residents are currently hospitalized “due to COVID-19.

     “There have been 743 COVID-19 recoveries in Columbus County.”

    Zip Code data, reported daily by the NC Department of Health and Human Services, showed six new cases for Whiteville Thursday, four for Tabor City and Chadbourn, two for Clarendon, and one each for Cerro Gordo, Hallsboro, Lake Waccamaw, and Riegelwood.

     North Carolina reported 1,763 new COVID infections and 38 new related deaths between Wednesday and Thursday, the pandemic total now 140,824 and 2,287 respectively.

     Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 were up by 8 Thursday, the total now 1,070.

NCHSAA moves fall sports to spring

     Football in February?

     That’s the decision of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association as it moves competitive sports from fall to next spring in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

     Association directors approved the new schedule Tuesday, and it was made public Wednesday. It allows for football teams to begin practice Feb. 8, and then to begin a series of seven regular season games on Feb. 26, ending on April 9.

     Playoffs are planned, but those details have not been finalized.

     Fall sports moving to spring include women’s tennis to begin April 12, and men’s soccer starting Jan. 11. Baseball, which had been set to begin Feb. 15, moves to April 12 under the new NCHSAA plan, softball to March 1.

     Cross country and volleyball fall sports practices are moved to Nov. 4 under the plan. Basketball practice won’t begin until Dec. 7.

     There are plenty of details to be worked out on the local and conference levels, including how to jam eight Three Rivers Conference football teams into a seven game schedule.

     Non-conference rivalry games seem a likely casualty, including the long-running Border-Battle football series between South Columbus and Loris high schools.

     Some, or all of the plan is subject to change as the conditions of the pandemic dictate.

State program launches for business, non-profits

     New help for businesses and nonprofit organizations in North Carolina facing disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may have find help from a new state program, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday.

     Applications for up to $250,000 in Job Retention Grant Program (JRG) funds are available now on the NC State Department of Commerce website here.

     “The Job Retention Grant Program offers another way for employers hit hard by COVID-19 to gain some relief,” the governor said. ”This program aims to help employers keep employees on the payroll.”

     The JRG initiative is supported by $15 million in federal COVID-19 funds, which the General Assembly appropriated for this use (S.L. 2020-80). Both for-profit and certain types of nonprofit employers may apply for grants through the program, which has a strict application deadline of September 1, 2020.

     To qualify for a grant award, applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements, which include:

  • The applicant cannot have participated in the federal Paycheck Protection Program, the federal Main Street Loan Program, or the state Rapid Recovery Loan Program.
  • The applicant must have maintained at least 90 percent of the number of full-time employees in North Carolina at the end of June 2020 as it did as the end of February 2020.
  • The applicant must have had a reduction in sales (in the case of a for-profit business) or receipts (for nonprofits) of more than 10 percent when comparing March-May 2020 to March-May 2019 levels.

     Applicants are eligible for a grant up to 125 percent of two months of its 2019 average monthly payroll costs, up to a maximum of $250,000. All applicants that apply and are eligible may expect to receive some level of assistance, but the actual amount of the grant will depend on the total number of eligible requests received by the program.

     If requests exceed the $15 million that’s available, then individual grant amounts will be lowered on a prorated basis.

     The Department hopes to award grants by early October. All grantees will have to comply with federal and state reporting requirements as a condition of the grant.

     Two educational webinars to support people interested in learning more about the JRG program and how to apply for funding are available. The first session took place Thursday, August 13 and had more than 100 participants. The next session will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 17. Registration is required. Register for Monday’s webinar here.

     For more on the JRG, including access to the program’s online application form, visit here.

 

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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.