Columbus goes COVID orange, but ‘vigilance’ urged; Horry’s new case/death counts diverge for now

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     Measures of COVID-19’s impact on North Carolina are trending badly, but are slightly improved for Columbus County as daily case and death numbers for Horry County seem headed in opposite directions.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • Columbus moves out of the COVID red zone
  • Horry new case count is climbing, rate of deaths slows for two days

Columbus moves out of the COVID red zone

     While COVID-19 continues to spread across Columbus County, North Carolina’s County Alert Update map Tuesday indicated somewhat improved conditions, but nothing to indicate that threat or need for protective measures has ended.

     That’s an indication that important coronavirus trends have improved by the county, but not by much, state Department of Health and Human Services Communications Specialist Bailey Pennington said Wednesday in an e-mailed response to questions on the new map.

     That map reflects data from Dec. 5 through 18 and reflected “reductions in the 14-day case rate and 14-day percent positive over the last month,” Pennington said.

     In contrast, Columbus County for the period from Nov. 6 to 19 “had the highest percent positive rate of all NC counties,” Pennington said.

     Columbus County was rated red, for critical spread of the virus, on state evaluations dated Nov. 17 and 23, and on Dec. 8. It reached orange status, with substantial spread, on the evaluation dated Tuesday.

     Three areas are gauged to determine if counties are classified as red, orange, or yellow, the latter showing significant coronavirus spread. Those areas are the 14-day case rate per 100,000 citizens, 14-day percent positive of COVID-19 tests, and hospital impact.

     Columbus was rated at moderate impact on the hospital score in every evaluation, but the trends between Nov. 17, Nov. 23, Dec. 8 and 22 were more of a seesaw.

     Testing percent positive rates went from 15.8 to 18.1, then 11.7, and 9.6 in the latest data, Pennington said.

     Case rate per 100,000 population was similar, from 724.2 to 983.6, then 681.0 to 635.9.

     Pennington warned that “there is still a substantial level of virus spread in Columbus County and the metrics are very close to meeting criteria for red counties.

     “Given these concerning levels of spread, Columbus County leaders, businesses, community organizations, and individuals should continue to maintain vigilance to bring down their numbers and prevent further spread of COVID-19.”

     By the numbers: Columbus County has recorded 59 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases since Monday, 38 new on Wednesday, online DHHS data shows.

     Columbus County Health Department data, reported Monday, will not be released until next Monday due to the Christmas holiday. That will also impact DHHS data, which will be updated next on Saturday, the agency reported.

     A sharp rise in COVID cases from the Tabor City Zip Code has slowed since Monday, with just six new cases, five of those new Wednesday. That data shows sixteen newly confirmed cases for the Whiteville Zip Code, six of those new Wednesday.

     No new COVID associated deaths have been reported, the pandemic total for the county 80, with the pandemic case total at 3,327. Nearly two-thirds of those cases are from the Tabor City Zip Code, with 1,012 cases, and Whiteville, with 991.

     North Carolina reported 5,609 new COVID infections Wednesday, and 69 associated deaths, bringing those pandemic totals to 494,511 and 6,360 respectively. At the current rate, it seems likely that the state will pass 500,000 confirmed cases by Saturday, or soon after.

     Statewide 3,043 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus Wednesday, up by 42 from the day before.

Horry new case count is climbing, rate of deaths slows for two days

     A troubling string of two confirmed COVID-19 associated deaths in Horry County reported each day by South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control has broken this week, with one  reported both Tuesday and Wednesday.

     Both deaths involved elderly county residents who died on Dec. 13 and 17, bringing the coronavirus toll on Horry lives during the pandemic to 251.

     Newly confirmed case counts appear heading in the opposite directions, with 129 reported Monday, 140 on Tuesday, 187 Wednesday, bringing the pandemic total to 16,595.

     Zip Code data shows 23 of those newly reported cases from the Loris area since Monday, 17 of those newly reported Wednesday.

     Green Sea has seen newly confirmed cases, four Tuesday, three more Wednesday.

     Those pandemic case totals have reached 964 for the Loris Zip Code, 117 for Green Sea.

     South Carolina has recorded 261,024 COVID cases during the pandemic, 4,651 deaths, those numbers up by 3,599 and 49 respectively since Tuesday.

     Statewide 1,671 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus Wednesday, that number up by 85 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.