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COVID-19 claims lives in Columbus, Horry, as surge continues

Secretary of the NC Department Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen and Gov. Roy Cooper, at left, watch as Dr. Aidin Ashoori, receives a COVID-19 vaccine from LPN Gerda Lambre at UNC Health in Chapel Hill, NC Thursday, where frontline healthcare workers are among some of the first recipients of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. (Travis Long, The News & Observer)


     More COVID-19 deaths in Columbus and Horry counties, an explosive increase in confirmed cases in Columbus, were reported by local and state agencies Thursday.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • COVID claims 3, infects 144 more in Columbus
  • Another coronavirus death in Horry as surge continues

COVID claims 3, infects 144 more in Columbus

     COVID-19’s surge in Columbus County has exploded, with 144 newly confirmed cases since Monday, the coronavirus claiming three additional lives, the Columbus County Health Department reported Thursday.

     Those deaths, on Dec. 1, 11, and 16, bring to 79 the total of COVID-19 deaths involving county residents since the pandemic began in March. Two of the three died in hospitals, the third at home, the health department reported.

     Newly confirmed COVID-19 cases brings the Columbus pandemic total to 3,243, the health department reported. Only one of the 144 newly confirmed cases involved someone in a congregate care facility.

     “I do believe that what we’re seeing is from Thanksgiving, and from all of the holiday parties that are going on,” Columbus County Health Director Kim Smith said Thursday. “Family get togethers, company Christmas parties, different kind of gatherings.”

     Christmas will present the same temptations for family and other social gatherings, Smith said. She urged people to resist.

     “They just need to stay at home and Facetime their family members,” Smith said. I realize it’s Christmas, and I realize that there’s going to be a lot of people that this probably will be their last Christmas.

     “If you must get together, do it outside, wear a mask, keep that social distance. The virus is out there, and we don’t know all the people that have it. A lot of them never show symptoms.”

     Currently 16 Columbus County residents are hospitalized due to COVID-19, the health department reported. About 885 cases are active in the county.

     Schools: Four students and two staff members in the Columbus County Schools have tested positive for COVID-19 this week, spokesman Kelly Jones said.

     Staff members from Tabor City Elementary and West Columbus High have contracted the virus, along with two second graders at Williams Township School, a high school sophomore at Columbus Career and College Academy, and a student at Hallsboro-Artesia Elementary.

     Quarantines have not been required, Jones said.

     DHHS data on Thursday showed 64 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases for Columbus County since Tuesday, 45 of those new since Wednesday.

     Daily state data, which often lags that from the Columbus County Health Department, where pandemic updates are provided on Monday and Thursday, indicated a trend rarely, if ever seen during the pandemic. Only one Zip Code in Columbus County did not have a newly confirmed COVID case confirmed in Thursday’s data, Riegelwood’s pandemic total steady at 173 since Monday.

     Whiteville and Tabor City, the Zip Code data showed, were most heavily impacted in Thursday’s data. Whiteville showed 16 newly confirmed COVID cases Thursday, Tabor City recorded 13, bringing those pandemic totals to 930 for Whiteville, 978 for Tabor City.

     COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 22 people in the Tabor City Zip Code, including two inmates at Tabor Correctional Institution, so far in the pandemic; Whiteville’s total was 27, Thursday’s DHHS data showed.

     Clarendon and Bolton passed 100 COVID cases during the pandemic on Thursday, the DHHS data showed. Clarendon’s 100 case total Thursday was up by a single case from Wednesday, while Bolton reached 104 cases, up from 99 on Wednesday.

     Free testing: Free drive-through COVID-19 rapid tests will be given again at the Columbus County Health Department in Whiteville from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Friday.

     Appointments are required, and may be made by calling 910-640-6615 extension 7006 or 7007.

     North Carolina reported 5,786 new COVID infections Thursday, and 86 associated deaths, bringing those pandemic totals to 457,660 and 6,065 respectively.

     Statewide 2,804 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus Thursday, down by 7 from the day before.

Another coronavirus death in Horry as surge continues

     Another COVID-19 associated death of an Horry County resident brings that grim pandemic total to 241, South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control data showed Thursday.

     Like the majority of those confirmed coronavirus deaths, the latest involved an elderly person, the DHEC data showed. It took place on Dec. 13. DHEC listed two other “probable” COVID-19 associated deaths among Horry residents Thursday, both elderly, who died on Dec. 11 and 14.

     Newly confirmed COVID infections in Horry topped 100 on Thursday, that string now reaching 16 days, with the latest total 117. Eleven of those were from the Loris Zip Code, two more from Green Sea, the DHEC data showed.

     Pandemic total cases as of Thursday have reached 15,757 for Horry, 898 for Loris, and 102 for Green Sea.

     South Carolina has recorded 243,583 COVID cases during the pandemic, 4,484 deaths, those numbers up by 2,023 and 39 respectively since Wednesday.

     Statewide 1,524 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus Thursday, that number up dramatically by 478 from Wednesday.


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