COVID: Phase 3 in NC Friday; CC tops 1,000 cases; Horry numbers confuse

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     North Carolina will move cautiously into Phase 3 of the coronavirus pandemic reopening as COVID numbers pass 10,000 cases in Columbus County, and the counting gets confusing for Horry.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • NC moves to Phase 3 Friday
  • Columbus tops 1,400 COVD cases
  • DHEC numbers for Horry confuse

NC moves to Phase 3 Friday

     A cautious move to Phase 3 of the economic reopening of North Carolina in response to the COVID-19 pandemic begins at 5 p.m. Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday.

     His order reflecting a continuation of the “dimmer switch” reopening will be in effect for just three weeks, the governor said, giving state health leaders time “to examine the science and the data to see what to do going forward.”

     Phase 3 will allow bars, movie theaters, small and large outdoor venues to re-open, but with strict capacity regulations designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the governor said.

     Face coverings will remain mandatory statewide for anyone in a public place older than age 5. Gov. Cooper and NC Department of Health and Human Services Director Dr. Mandy Cohen continued to stress the importance of the three Ws to slow the spread of the virus: Wait at least six feet apart, wash your hands often, and wear a face covering whenever in public places and whenever social distancing is impossible with anyone, even relatives, who do not live in your home.

     Getting a flu shot and downloading the SlowCOVIDNC app from the Apple App Store or Google Play can also aid in slowing virus spread, both Gov. Cooper and Dr. Cohen said.

     Those at higher risk from COVID-19, including the elderly and those with underlying disease, are still safer at home, Cooper said.

     Details: Provisions of Gov. Cooper’s Phase 3 Executive Order, effective from Oct. 2 through 23, include:

  • Large outdoor venues with seating greater than 10,000 may operate with 7% occupancy for spectators.
  • Smaller outdoor entertainment venues, like arenas or amphitheaters, may operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less.
  • Movie theaters and conference centers may open indoor spaces to 30% of capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less.
  • Bars may operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less.
  • Amusement parks may open at 30% occupancy, outdoor attractions only.
  • The limits on mass gatherings will remain at 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.
  • The 11 pm curfew on alcohol sales for in-person consumption in locations such as restaurants and outdoor bars will be extended to October 23.

     A downloadable copy of the governor’s order is available here.

Columbus tops 1,400 COVD cases

     More than 1,400 Columbus County residents have been infected with COVID-19 since March, data from North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services showed for the first time Wednesday.

     Updated DHHS data is posted to its online dashboard daily, while the Columbus County Health Department currently issues two pandemic updates each week, the next one expected Thursday.

     Another 23 confirmed COVID cases were reflected in the DHHS data posted for Columbus County Wednesday, bringing the pandemic total to 1,401. To date 57 Columbus residents have died of complications of the virus, the DHHS data and most recent Columbus County Health Department report shows.

     Zip Code data from DHHS has showed some fluctuations apparently resulting from investigations that people were not correctly identified by location.

     Tabor City’s Zip Code data, for instance, showed a pandemic total of 279 infections Monday, 278 on Tuesday, 281 on Wednesday. There have been 17 COVID related deaths in the Tabor City area, the DHHS data showed.

     Whiteville, the Zip Code data showed, recorded 8 new COVID infections Wednesday, its pandemic total 425.

     Clarendon, Nakina, Fair Bluff and Chadbourn each showed single newly confirmed COVID cases Wednesday. Confirmed case/death totals for those areas as of Wednesday are: Clarendon, 53/2; Nakina, 50/2; Fair Bluff, 46/4; and Chadbourn, 183/8.

     North Carolina recorded 1,495 new COVID infections and 38 related deaths Wednesday, pandemic totals now at 210,632 and 3,532 respectively. Statewide 956 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus, that number up 6 from Tuesday.

DHEC numbers for Horry confuse

     COVID-19 numbers for Horry County provided by the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control have fluctuated significantly in recent days, making it difficult to assess trends there.

     That data, an e-mailed response to questions from Tabor-Loris Tribune from the state’s Emergency Response Team, “are adjusted to be as accurate as possible with the new information we learn or are provided.”

     Calling the state’s website the most “accurate and up-to-date data resource,” the team response said “The overwhelming reason that cases change for counties is because we learn that these individuals, whether new cases or deaths, were residents of a different county than what was initially reported to us.”

     Big drop: DHEC data showed Horry County passing 10,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases during the weekend, with a 10,012 total Sunday, another 8 added Monday, before the total numbers were adjusted downward to 10,004 Tuesday, to 9,940 Wednesday, that below the total shown Friday.

     Confirmed deaths have also been rolled back, from 185 Tuesday to 183 shown Wednesday. That total, unchanged since last Thursday, held Tuesday although separate DHEC reporting showed an additional death for Horry County on Tuesday.

     Zip Code data, also reported by DHEC, showed the Loris area with 593 reported COVID cases as of Wednesday, Green Sea with 47, the Loris total up by a single case from Tuesday.

     South Carolina has recorded 143,623 COVID cases during the pandemic, 3,186 deaths, those numbers up by 128 and 13 respectively since Tuesday.

     Statewide 729 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus Wednesday, that number up by 39 from Tuesday.

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.