COVID vaccination scam warning in Columbus; new death, case reports for region

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     A potentially dangerous scam involving COVID-19 vaccinations in Columbus County is being investigated as new deaths and cases continue there and in neighboring Horry, too.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • COVID scam warning in Columbus
  • New CC virus death, 55 cases since Tuesday
  • Horry records 4 more lost, 191 infections

COVID scam warning in Columbus

     An unusual and unusually scary COVID-19 related scam has been reported locally, prompting a warning from the Columbus County Health Department.

     “We have seen several issues with people who have received phone calls about their vaccination appointments, telling them to go to another location, such as the Columbus County Fairgrounds,” health department spokesman Daniel Buck said Thursday.

     That’s raising significant concerns, including the possibility that those lured to locations where vaccines are not being offered might fall victim to another crime, including robbery and assault, Buck said.

     “We’re working with the Columbus County Administration, our IT (Information Technology) Department, and are reaching out to law enforcement,” Buck said.

     Health leaders worry that there may have been a hack into the health department’s phone or information systems, giving criminals access to information on people who have COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

     “We at the health department, right now, we are only giving vaccinations here at the health department,” Buck said. “Columbus Regional has been giving vaccinations at the hospital.”

     Some vaccinations have been provided through at least one national pharmacy chain in Whiteville, but no mass vaccinations clinics have been scheduled in the county so far. There simply has not been enough vaccine allocated to Columbus County for any large-scale vaccination efforts.

     There has apparently been no effort through the bogus vaccination calls to obtain money or personal information, Buck said.

     “From what we’ve been told, they have not asked for payment, not asked for any personal information, they have just asked that the person go to a location. That presents some risk. We want to make sure people do not do that. We don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

     Anyone who gets a call or who has a concern should call us and verify any information they have been given,” buck said.

     To make a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, or to verify anything about those appointments, call 910-640-6615 Ext. 7070, 7072, or 7074.

New CC virus death, 55 cases since Tuesday

     After several days of few new COVID-19 cases confirmed for Columbus County, 55 have been recorded since Tuesday, in addition to another coronavirus associated death, NC Department of Health and Human Services data shows.

     That new death involved a resident of the Fair Bluff Zip Code, the DHHS data showed, bringing the total of people there claimed by COVID-19 to 7, the county total to 134 since the pandemic began to be felt locally last March.

     Most of the newly confirmed coronavirus cases, 23, were recorded in the Whiteville Zip Code; while Chadbourn recorded 9 new cases, Hallsboro 4; Tabor City and Riegelwood 3; Cerro Gordo, Evergreen, Bolton and Delco 2 each; Clarendon and Nakina with 1, and none in Lake Waccamaw.

     Tabor City has recorded 1,407 COVID cases to date during the pandemic, 33 deaths; trailing Whiteville with 1,766 cases and 46 associated deaths.

     North Carolina reported 3,916 new COVID infections Thursday and 96 associated deaths, bringing those pandemic totals to 866,423 and 10,766 respectively.

     Statewide 1,892 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus Thursday, that number down by 62 from Wednesday.

Horry records 4 more lost, 191 infections

     Four more Horry County residents have succumbed to complications of COVID-19 since Tuesday, another 191 have been newly confirmed as infected with the virus, South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control reported Thursday.

     Two of those who died of COVID associated complications were described as elderly, two as middle aged, the DHEC data showed, with dates of death on Feb. 5, 8, and two on Feb. 12.

     Eight of the newly confirmed COVID cases were reported from the Loris Zip Code, one from Green Sea. Since the pandemic’s effects began to be felt locally nearly a year ago 394 Horry residents have died of coronavirus complications, 25,979 have been confirmed as infected with COVID-19, including 1,660 from the Loris Zip Code, 223 from Green Sea.

     South Carolina has recorded 431,074 COVID cases during the pandemic, 7,277 deaths, those numbers up by 1,451 and 32 respectively since Wednesday.

     Statewide 1,137 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus Thursday, that number down by 68 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.