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COVID claims HCPD officer, Internet funds for CC, infections top 1K in Columbus

HCPD Cpl. Michael Ambrosino


     Horry County government has lost its first employee to COVID-19, a veteran police officer.

     Elsewhere, new funding for Internet expansion to aid students in class at home, others who are working from home, will include Columbus County.

     Coronavirus infections, meanwhile, continue to climb, crossing the 1,000 mark in Columbus County Wednesday.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • COVID claims HCPD officer
  • Internet expansion funds include Columbus
  • Case count crosses 1K in CC
  • Another 33 infections in Horry

COVID claims HCPD officer

     An Horry County Police Department officer has died “after a prolonged fight against COVID-19 and the complications that followed,” a county government news release said Wednesday.

     Cpl. Michael Ambrosino’s death was described as “tragic and untimely” in the news release. He was remembered as “an accomplished law enforcement officer with more than 32 years in service. More than seven years were spent with Horry County Police Department, where he served on South Precinct Patrol, Beach Patrol, Honor Guard, and as a Team Leader for the SWAT Negotiations Team. Every day Cpl. Ambrosino came to work, he put his all into helping others—fellow officers and community members alike—and doing it with a smile and wry humor. He epitomized honor, commitment, pride, and dedication.”

     A law enforcement veteran of 32 years, Ambrosino had been with the HCPD for seven years, working in the South Precinct, and was a SWAT Negotiations Team Leader. Most of his law enforcement career was in New York.

     “The loss of an active member of our agency is one of my worst fears as your Chief, but I also know how strong we are as an HCPD family and will be there for Mike’s family in the days, weeks and months to come,” a statement from Chief Joseph Hill said.

Internet expansion funds include Columbus

     Expanded Internet service in Columbus County is coming as part of a statewide response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on education and business, Gov. Roy Cooper and provider ATMC each announced Wednesday.

     ATMC was one of eight recipients to receiving funding through the second round of the NF GREAT Grant broadband program, awarded two grants totaling $2.5 million, the cooperative announced.

     Those funds “will be used to expand high speed internet service to serve more than 2,000 homes in the Columbus County communities of Fair Bluff and Boardman, and the Robeson County communities of Orrum and Proctorville,” a news release from the cooperative said. “ATMC will provide an additional $1 million dollars in matching funds to complete these projects.”

     “ATMC is excited to once again be a recipient of the NC GREAT Grant program,” said Keith Holden, ATMC CEO. “These grants will make it possible for us to serve thousands of residents and businesses in Robeson and Columbus County that have been without reliable internet for far too long.

     “We would like to thank the residents, farmers, business owners and community leaders who provided letters of support for these grant projects.

     “We would also like to thank Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation for partnering with us and allowing us to use their fiber network to reach these communities. We know that now, more than ever, high speed internet is critical for families and businesses and ATMC plans to work fast to make access to reliable internet a reality in these areas”.

     The Governor’s office along with the NC Department of Information Technology introduced the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) program in 2019 as a way for internet service providers and cooperatives to seek and compete for funding to aid in lowering financial barriers that prevent high speed internet service expansion in Tier 1 counties.

     In his recent press conference, Governor Cooper announced that $12 million dollars would be granted through the NC GREAT Grant Program to expand rural internet access to more than 8,000 homes.

     “Even before the pandemic, expanding high speed internet access was a top priority for my administration,” Gov. Cooper said. “Now that we’re living in a socially distanced world, reliable internet is more important than ever, particularly for students learning remotely and people working from home. We’ll continue to work hard to expand internet to all parts of our state.”

Case count crosses 1K in CC

     An unwanted milestone has been reached in Columbus County, 1,000 residents infected with COVID-19 during the pandemic, North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Resources reported Wednesday.

     DHHS data showed the county with 13 newly confirmed cases Wednesday, bringing the pandemic total to 1,003. There were no new deaths reported, the pandemic total at 50.

     Zip Code data showed Tabor City with one new case Wednesday, a dozen since Monday, the total now 239.

     Columbus County Health Department coronavirus updates are currently issued each Monday and Thursday. DHHS data is updated online daily.

     North Carolina reported 1,153 new COVID infections and 35 related deaths Wednesday, the pandemic total now 147,932 and 2,431 respectively.

     Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 were down by 25 Wednesday, after rising by 46 Tuesday, the total now 1,001.

Another 33 infections in Horry

     Another 33 Horry County residents have been confirmed as infected with COVID-19, with no new confirmed related deaths, South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control data showed Wednesday.

     COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 163 Horry residents during the pandemic, the DHEC data showed. A “probable” COVID related death was also listed for Horry.

     Zip Code data showed four new COVID cases for the Loris area Wednesday, six since Monday. Loris has recorded 523 COVID cases during the pandemic, the DHEC data showed, Green Sea 35, Horry a total of 8,919.

     Statewide South Carolina reported 704 new COVID cases and 17 new deaths Wednesday, the pandemic totals now 107,274 and 2,248 respectively.

     There were 1,168 COVID patients being treated in South Carolina hospitals Wednesday, that number up by 52 from Tuesday.


     Look for continuing coverage on local impacts from the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak here and in the Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.