Columbus COVID death toll spikes, cases soar in Horry

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     COVID’s death toll in Columbus County has passed a grim milestone as newly confirmed cases rise rapidly there and in neighboring Horry.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

Columbus COVID deaths pass 100 with 13 reported

     An exceptionally deadly streak for the COVID-19 pandemic in Columbus County has unfolded in recent days, five confirmed by the state Department of Health and Human Services Thursday, eight more not yet recorded by the state agency.

     DHHS data showed a pandemic total of 95 coronavirus associated deaths for the county on Thursday, while Columbus County Health Department Director Kim Smith confirmed 8 more, the 13 newly confirmed deaths bringing the pandemic total to 103 as of Thursday morning.

     It’s a sobering reality that comes as residents eager for a vaccine have become frustrated with the slow roll-out of vaccinations, a fact of life the local health agency cannot control.

     “I find out how much vaccine we’re going to get from the state as it’s actually rolling in the door,” Smith said. “We, as health directors, have told the state that we need more.”

     Vaccinations for the county’s oldest residents, those 75 and older, began Monday. Appointments for those vaccines opened last week, and were quickly filled, forcing the agency to pause the appointment process until Feb. 1.

     Because the supply is so limited, new supplies arriving weekly, Smith said some with appointments may not get their vaccines now.

     “I hope we have the vaccines for everyone with an appointment,” Smith said. “If not, we’re going to have to call some people and reschedule.”

     Smith said everyone on the health department staff continues to do all it can, despite obstacles that included the agency’s phone system crashing as appointments were being made.

     “I’m sorry that our phone system crashed,” Smith said. “We’re doing all that we can, we’ve added new lines.

     “I’m sorry that we don’t have one vaccine for everyone in the county that wants it now. But there will be a vaccine for you, it’s just going to take time.”

     Cases: Smith said the health department receives 111 new COVID-19 case confirmations Monday, 85 Tuesday, another 79 Wednesday. New case counts are typically higher on Monday, because they include testing results from the weekend.

     Since the pandemic began 4,742 county residents have tested positive for COVID-19, Smith said. That’s 315 more than was indicated on the DHHS dashboard Thursday, the state data typically lagging behind that at the local level, Smith said.

     DHHS data showed the county with 4,427 confirmed COVID cases on Thursday, up by 68 from Wednesday. Most of those cases, twenty-seven, were from the Whiteville Zip Code, another nine from Tabor City, seven each from Chadbourn and Evergreen, the rest of the county’s zip codes showing four new cases or less. Fair Bluff’s was the only Zip Code with no newly confirmed cases.

     That DHHS data showed five of the thirteen new coronavirus associated deaths included two each from the Tabor City and Whiteville Zip Codes, one from Chadbourn.

     Those pandemic case/death totals reported by DHHS include Tabor City, 1,222/25; Whiteville, 1,334/32; and Chadbourn, 506/11.

     North Carolina reported 9,853 new COVID infections Thursday and 80 associated deaths, bringing those pandemic totals to 650,926 and 7,825 respectively.

     Statewide 3,990 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus Thursday, that number up by 39 from Wednesday.

COVID cases up by 273 in Horry

     Daily counts of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Horry County are inching closer to 300, with 273 reported Thursday by the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control.

     Loris and Green Sea Zip codes were impacted, with 13 and 9 newly reported cases respectively, the DHEC data showed.

     Pandemic case totals for Horry include 20,908 four the county, including 1,300 for the Loris Zip Code, 179 for Green Sea, the DHEC data showed.

     There were no new confirmed coronavirus associated deaths for the county reported Thursday, but two new “probable” deaths

     South Carolina has recorded 337,845 COVID cases during the pandemic, 5,420 deaths, those numbers up by 4,809 and 18 respectively since Wednesday.

     Statewide 2,427 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus Thursday, that number down by 39 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.