Steady trends may ease NC COVID restriction as app enhances tracking efforts; a new pandemic death in Horry, more area cases

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     Stable COVID-19 trends in North Carolina may allow an easing of pandemic restrictions next week, with a new app in place to help residents determine if they may have been exposed to the disease.

     Meanwhile, a new novel coronavirus death has been recorded in Horry County, cases continue to climb slowly there and in Columbus.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • SlowCOVIDNC app launches
  • Large venues may open in NC next week
  • Elderly person is Horry’s 184th pandemic death
  • Columbus records eight new coronavirus cases

SlowCOVIDNC app launches

     An app designed to let users find out if they may have been exposed to someone carrying COVID-19 has been launched by North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services, DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen and Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday.

     SlowCOVIDNC “will help North Carolinians slow the spread of the virus by alerting them when they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19,” a DHHS news release said. “It is completely anonymous and does not collect, store or share personal information or location data.”

     SlowCOVIDNC is a free app, voluntary to download, available through the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Once downloaded and activated, it requires that Bluetooth be enabled to work, and generates an anonymous token for the device, a string of random letters that changes every 10 to 20 minutes, and is read by other devices with the app that is active.

     “If an app user tests positive for COVID-19, the individual may obtain a unique PIN to submit in the app,” the news release said. “This voluntary and anonymous reporting notifies others who have downloaded the app that they may have been in close contact with someone in the last 14 days who has tested positive.

     “PINs will be provided to app users who receive a positive COVID-19 test result through a web-based PIN Portal, by contacting the Community Care of North Carolina call center, or by contacting their local health department.”

     That, Dr. Cohen said, allows those who may have been exposed to the virus, to get tested and support from local and state health agencies dealing with the pandemic.

     SlowCOVIDNC details, links to the app, and an FAQ, visit here.

Large venues may open in NC next week

     Additional easing to COVID-19 restrictions in North Carolina, including limited admission to venues with a capacity of 10,000 people or greater, could be coming next Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday.

     That date marks the expiration of Gov. Cooper’s current Safer at Home Phase 2.5 reopening plan, and curing a news briefing the governor said “we plan to take another step towards Phase 3 if that progress holds.”

     What would include opening large outdoor seated venues, including college football stadiums, to crowds not to exceed seven percent of capacity.

     “We hope to ease some other restrictions, while keeping masks and social distancing in place.”

     Cooper said an announcement on just will be allowed effective Oct. 2 will come early next week.

Elderly person is Horry’s 184th pandemic death

     An elderly Horry County resident who died Sunday was the county’s 184th COVID-19 casualty, data from the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control showed Tuesday.

     Another 22 county residents have tested positive for the coronavirus, the daily DHEC data showed, bringing the pandemic total for Horry to 9,897.

     One of the newly reported infections was from the Loris Zip Code, the DHEC data showed, no one from the Green Sea area. Pandemic total cases for those area have reached 582 for Loris, 44 for Green Sea.

     South Carolina recorded 27 new COVID related deaths Tuesday, the DHEC data showed, bringing the pandemic total to 3,067.

     New case data for the state was skewed because about 2,000 positive results for tests conducted between March 18 and Sept. 17 were added to the totals after they were provided, very late, by Augusta University Healthcare in Georgia.

     Without that total, there were about 522 newly confirmed COVID cases in South Carolina on Tuesday. With that Georgia results, the pandemic total has reached 137,406.

     Statewide 768 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus Tuesday, that number up by 35 from Monday.

Columbus records eight new coronavirus cases

     Eight new COVID-19 cases among Columbus County residents were added to a running total maintained by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services Tuesday, with no additional deaths.

     That brings the pandemic total to 1,320 confirmed cases, 54 deaths, the DHEC data shows, the cases fewer than the 1,324 reported by the Columbus County Health Department Monday.

     State data, posted to the DHHS website, often lags that of the county, which currently reports its totals each Monday and Thursday.

     Zip Code data from DHHS showed Tabor City, Nakina, Fair Bluff and Whiteville with one new case, Chadbourn with two. That brings those pandemic total cases/deaths to: Tabor City, 273/17; Nakina, 48/2; Fair Bluff, 46/2; Whiteville, 411/14; and Chadbourn, 173/7.

     North Carolina recorded 1,168 new COVID infections and 39 new related deaths Tuesday, pandemic totals now at 195,549 and 3,286 respectively. Statewide 905 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus, that number up by 20 from Monday.

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.