Columbus Regional activates COVID surge plan as region impacts soar

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     Columbus Regional Healthcare has activated its COVID-19 surge capacity plan as coronavirus infections and deaths are rapidly climbing in the region and beyond.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • Surge plan activated at CRHS
  • Columbus cases soar past 4,000 in CC, at least 90 deaths
  • Virus claims another in Horry, 243 new cases

Surge plan activated at CRHS

     In place for months, its use unwanted, a surge capacity plan related to the COVID-19 pandemic has been activated at Columbus Regional Healthcare System.

     Enacted in response to increased community spread of the coronavirus and an uptick in hospital admissions, the plan “begins with creating additional bed capacity, and has already been set into motion,” a CRHS news release said Thursday. “Unused, licensed beds are being updated in order to provide patient care. All patient care is taking place in traditional, licensed care settings.”

     CRHS CEO John Young said the plan was developed earlier this year.

     “We were hopeful we wouldn’t have to use it,” Young said. “However, here we are and I’m just thankful we have the capacity to make more room to treat those in need of inpatient care.”

     “This is a rapidly evolving situation and Columbus Regional Healthcare System continues to monitor and respond to COVID-19,” the news release said. “The safety of our patients, teammates, and our community is the top priority.

     “Our teammates are dedicated to providing excellent care to those who need it, but we need your help.”

     Steps the community can take to slow the spread of COVID-19 have been encouraged by health leaders for month, and repeated by CRHS include:

  • Wear a mask
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from those you do not live with
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Follow the NC guidelines for indoor and outdoor gatherings
  • If and when you are eligible, we highly recommend getting COVID-19 vaccine

     “Our employees are not immune to this virus, and we need them here and healthy to be able to care for our community members,” said CRHS Chief Operating Officer Jason Beck.

     CRHS will post information regularly on its website here and on social media here.

Columbus cases soar past 4,000 in CC, at least 90 deaths

     “We didn’t have to be here,” Columbus County Health Director Kim Smith said of the explosive rise of COVID-19 cases and deaths locally, regionally, and nationally.

     While many have heeded health warnings on how to slow the spread of the coronavirus, too many have not, fueling the pandemics worst impacts to date, the county soaring past 4,000 cases and recording 90 deaths so far, Smith said.

     It’s those impacts that have prompted the county agency to stop providing twice weekly reports on current COVID data, pointing reporters and others to data posted daily by the NC Department of Health and Human Services.

     State data showed the county topping 4,000 COVID cases Thursday, the total now 4,023 cases with 87 associated deaths. That data typically lags that at the county agency, which as of Thursday afternoon showed 4,156 COVID cases during the pandemic, 90 deaths, the most recently three still in the process of verification, Smith said.

     “We’ve got this vaccine, it’s a wonderful vaccine,” Smith said. “Until everybody gets that vaccine, we still need to wear a mask, stay that social distance, and wash our hands frequently.”

     Avoiding gatherings that involve people who don’t live in your home is especially critical. Ignoring that advice is fueling much of the case surge now underway, Smith said.

     That surge is reflected in Thursday’s DHHS numbers for Columbus County, 125 newly confirmed cases that include 38 in the Whiteville Zip Code, 27 in Tabor City, 17 for Chadbourn, an even dozen in Clarendon.

     For the first time in recent memory, and perhaps since the pandemic began, every Zip Code in Columbus County recorded newly confirmed COVID cases Thursday, from Fair Bluff, Evergreen and Bolton with two; Lake Waccamaw with three; Nakina with four; Cerro Gordo with five; Delco with six; Hallsboro and Riegelwood with seven each.

     None of the three new COVID associated deaths reported by Smith were reflected on the DHHS dashboard, that total at 87.

     North Carolina reported 10,398 new COVID infections Thursday, a staggering new record, and 137 associated deaths, bringing those pandemic totals to 592,746 and 7,213 respectively.

     Statewide 3,960 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus Thursday, up by 67 from Wednesday and again setting a pandemic record.

Virus claims another in Horry, 243 new cases

     An elderly Horry County resident who died Jan. 3 was Horry County’s 281st COVID-19 associated casualty of the pandemic, South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control reported Thursday.

     Coronavirus cases continued to surge in the county, the daily DHEC data showed, with 243 newly confirmed cases bringing the pandemic total to 19,537.

     Loris recorded 21 of the new COVID cases, Zip Code data showed, Green Sea had 2 more, bringing those pandemic totals to 1,203 and 155.

     South Carolina has recorded 310,246 COVID cases during the pandemic, 5,189 deaths, those numbers up by 3,935 and 51 respectively since Wednesday.

     Statewide 2,425 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus Thursday, that number up by a single digit since 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.