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A cautionary COVID tale as Columbus records 71st death, Horry surge explodes


     COVID-19, when it strikes, takes at best an emotional toll, at worse the end of a life.

     For a Tabor City woman, in the week before the holidays, the coronavirus impact fell somewhere in between, while another Columbus County resident has been claimed by the disease, two more in Horry, and the surge their blew past 100 on Wednesday.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • ‘We’re living proof’: A cautionary COVID tale
  • Coronavirus death brings Columbus total to 71
  • Horry case surge explodes past 110 in a day

‘We’re living proof’: A cautionary COVID tale

     Looking back, Carolann Cotton believes she was infected with COVID-19 weeks before the coronavirus forced her to the hospital, where spent a full week.

     “We were being so very careful,” Carolann, who is 31, said from her Intensive Care Unit bed at McLeod Loris hospital Saturday. “I’m a Type 1 diabetic, so we knew if I got the virus it would be very serious. We were wearing masks, sanitizing, not being around people.

     “We still got it.”

     We includes her husband, Columbus County Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Cotton, and 4-year-old daughter Chloe Isabella Cotton. They, too, have contracted COVID-19, but thankfully their symptoms are far less severe. Carolann and Chris have experienced a loss of the sense of taste and smell, Chloe spared that symptom.

     For Carolann, COVID symptoms crept in slowly.

     “Looking back, for the past couple of weeks I had been fatigued, just tired,” Carolann said.

     During the night of Nov. 11, into the early morning, Carolann said her head felt “heavy. I just felt really exhausted, like a cold coming on.”

     She stocked up on NyQuil, vitamins, juices, ready to combat a cold. Her body had other ideas.

     “That Thursday and Friday I felt crappy,” Carolann said. “Friday night, at 11:30, I went to bed. At 1 in the morning I woke up with fever, chills, and my breathing first started giving me trouble.”

     Her symptoms were uncomfortable, but not severe. Her health history also includes asthma, she has medications and an inhaler, but those gave little relief. She knew her diabetes would also cause almost any illness to impact her more severely than others, especially COVID-19.

     Testing, and hospitalization: Her symptoms worsened overnight, and by last Monday morning Carolann was ready for a COVID-19 test. Results of a rapid test at a Whiteville clinic were inconclusive, though daughter Chloe had a positive result.

     Results from a more definitive test would take days to receive. After talking it over with her husband, the couple agreed for him to take her to McLeod Loris. They knew he would not be allowed in, so he dropped Carolann off.

     Her blood sugar was extremely high, her breathing difficult, her blood oxygen levels alarming low. A chest Xray gave unsettling answers.

“Within 30 minutes they said I had COVID and pneumonia on both lungs,” Carolann said.

     A stay-at-home Mom, in part because of the revolving schedule of her law enforcement husband, Carolann has been active on Facebook for some time. She reached out to friends on the social media platform.

     “Please pray for me,” Carolann posted in the early morning of Nov. 17. “I came to the hospital after battling this breathing and I’ve got COVID setting in on my lungs and pneumonia which is why I’ve had a hard time breathing.

     “I am so scared right now. This is most scariest thing in my life. Please pray for me very much. I can’t stop crying I’m so scared. I’m being admitted to ICU .

     “I have never in my life experienced the worst case of a virus than I have with this.”

     Carolann went through many ups and downs during her week at McLeod Loris, and said she was grateful for the staff there, and the support from the sheriff’s office.

     She was discharged from the hospital Monday, and said she will be exceptionally cautious going forward, including during the holidays, with no wish for another hospital stay.

     See more of her story in this week’s Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

 Coronavirus death brings Columbus total to 71

     A 71st Columbus County life has been taken by COVID-19, apparently a resident of the Whiteville Zip Code, state Department of Health and Human Services data showed Monday.

     In addition to the new COVID associated death, Columbus recorded 24 newly confirmed coronavirus infections, Wednesday’s DHHS data showed, bringing the pandemic total to 2,557.

     For its population, Columbus County leads the region in deaths, hospital impact and percent of positive tests, the DHHS data  shows.

     Zip Code data showed the Whiteville with 11 newly confirmed COVID cases Wednesday, the most for any area in the county. Chadbourn followed with four new cases, Tabor City and Hallsboro recorded three new cases.

     North Carolina reported 4,212 new COVID infections Wednesday, and 64 associated deaths, bringing those pandemic totals to 346,506 and 5,138 respectively. Statewide 1,811 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus, up by 87 from Tuesday and again reaching the highest total of the pandemic to date.

     Columbus County Health Department pandemic updates will return to twice-weekly on Monday, with no report expected Thursday due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

     State data will be suspended for the holiday, but updated Friday to show daily totals, DHHS reported Wednesday.

Horry case surge explodes past 110 in a day

     A surge in confirmed COVID-19 cases in Horry County blew well past 100 in a single day, Wednesday’s report from South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control showed.

     Horry has also lost two more residents to the disease, the DHEC data showed Tuesday. One of those involved a middle aged person, the other elderly, DHEC reported. Both died on Nov. 21.

     That brings the COVID death toll for Horry to 227, with 13,255 residents confirmed with the coronavirus, the DHEC data showed. Five of the new reported cases, from Monday, were in the Loris Zip Code, another three in Green Sea.

     Pandemic COVID case totals for those areas have reached 741 for Loris, 77 for Green Sea.

     South Carolina has recorded 197,652 COVID cases during the pandemic, 4,015 deaths, those numbers up by 1,243 and 4 respectively since Tuesday.

     Statewide 940 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus Wednesday, that number up by 67 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.