COVID uptick may send Horry students home, CC sheriff addresses detention center outbreak; coronavirus deaths in both counties

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     COVID-19’s toll and case numbers are rising again, with impacts that may include sending Horry County Schools students back home for class and involves an outbreak that has been addressed at the Columbus County Detention Center.

     That rising toll includes two new deaths in Horry County, another in Columbus reported in the past two days.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • Horry Schools may return to all-virtual learning
  • Sheriff addresses CC Detention Center outbreak
  • Columbus reports 58th COVID death, 50 new cases
  • Horry records two coronavirus deaths, 170 more cases in two days

Horry Schools may return to all-virtual learning

     After a delayed start to the new school year, and just a month into a hybrid plan of virtual and in-building instruction, the Horry County Schools may be returning to online-only classes in a little more than a week.

     A decision on moving to full-time virtual instruction may be made in a week, after the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control’s next weekly “Recent Disease Activity by County” report, the school district said in a Facebook post Thursday.

     This week’s report, earlier today, showed that Horry County have moved from “medium spread’ of the coronavirus to “high spread,” a difference that the district’s current pandemic plan requires a move to all remote learning, likely beginning the week of Oct. 19.

     “We will continue to monitor the number of cases within the school district and will consider the October 15th SC DHEC weekly disease activity report as it relates to the district’s future operational status,” the district’s Facebook post said.

     While students may be sent home, teachers and staff will work from their schools, the plan says. A total of 15 students and 16 staff members in the county schools have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week, on-line data from the district says.

Sheriff addresses CC Detention Center outbreak

     A quarantine is in place in a section of the Columbus County Detention Center where several inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, Sheriff Jody Greene said in a news release acknowledging the outbreak.

     Three inmates have tested positive for the virus, the news release said, initially presenting “with mild symptoms including one or more of the following symptoms: a headache, a stuffy nose, and a low grade fever.”

     Currently there are no “symptomatic inmates,” the news release said.

     Only one Detention Officer has tested positive for COVID-19, the news release said. NC Department of Health and Human Services data, last updated Tuesday, showed three detention center staff members positive for the virus, and four inmates. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Michelle Tatum said those numbers are not accurate, but may reflect an inmate at Columbus Correctional Institution, a state prison, and misclassified by DHHS; and a contract worker at the detention center who has tested positive for COVID-19 but is not a jail or sheriff’s employee.

     Proactive: Detention Center leaders were among the first to respond to what was then only a potential COVID-19 threat in January, “implementing precautionary measures” in January, the news release said.

     Temperature monitoring for anyone entering the Detention Center began them, new intake inmates were placed in a 14-day quarantine before entering the general population, and regulations on receiving books were changed.

     As the threat became more clear, the Detention Center lobby was closed to the public, hand sanitation stations were installed. By April air scrubbers were attached to the center’s HVAC system, designed to remove “air pollution, surface contaminants, dander, odors, and VOCs, providing a cleaner, healthier environment.”

     Ultraviolet air sanitizer have also been installed, designed to “kill germs at the molecular level.”

Columbus reports 58th COVID death, 50 new cases

     Another Columbus County resident has died of COVID-19 complications, and 50 more have been confirmed as infected with the coronavirus since Monday, the Columbus County Health Department reports in its second of two weekly pandemic updates Thursday.

     That brings the county’s pandemic total to 58 lives lost to the disease, 1,492 infected, the health department news release said. The most recent death took place today (Thursday) at the patient’s home.

     One day, Wednesday, saw an unusually high number of positive COVID results returned to the county, 25, the news release said. Another 8 cases were reported after Monday’s health department report, 14 Tuesday, and 3 so far today.

     “There are currently nine Columbus County residents that are hospitalized due to COVID-19,” the health department reported. COVID recoveries in the county total 1,218 to date, with about 216 cases currently classified as active.

     Testing has been active, with some 17,086 laboratory COVID tests in the county since the pandemic began, another 10,436 rapid tests.

     Zip Code data posted by the NC Department of Health and Human Services, which typically lags behind the county’s information, shows the Tabor City area with 12 newly confirmed cases since Monday, Whiteville with 14, Chadbourn with 6, Nakina with 2, Clarendon and Fair Bluff each with a single new cases.

     North Carolina recorded 2,968 new COVID infections and 29 related deaths Thursday, pandemic totals now at 225,937 and 3,722 respectively. Statewide 1,051 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus, that number up by 23 from Wednesday.

Horry records two coronavirus deaths, 170 more cases in two days

     Two additional COVID-19 associated deaths have been recorded for Horry County in the past two days, 170 new cases in a notable uptick in coronavirus activity reflected in SC Department of Health and Environmental Control online data.

     That brings Horry’s pandemic totals to 10,302 confirmed cases with 188 deaths, the two most recent involving elderly people, DHEC reported.

     Zip Code data showed the Loris area with six new cases, no new confirmation for Green Sea in the past two days. Those pandemic totals are now 608 reported cases for Loris, 51 in Green Sea.

     South Carolina has recorded 149,219 COVID cases during the pandemic, 3,311 deaths, those numbers up by 859 and 12 respectively since Wednesday.

     Statewide 716 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus Thursday, that number up by 9 from Wednesday.

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.