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Georgetown County sees record amount of new COVID-19 cases; hospital ICU at 132% capacity

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Woodrow Lance test

Coastal Carolina University student Woodrow Lance leans back as a health worker administers the swab test for the coronavirus. Hundreds drove to Georgetown High School for the free drive-thru COVID-19 testing event on July 10, 2020. File/Staff

GEORGETOWN — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced 90 new COVID-19 cases in Georgetown County on Friday, setting a single-day high for the county.

The total is more than the county’s previous five days — combined. The county’s previous high was 84 cases on July 15.

Inquiries into the county to see if there was a single event that caused the sudden spike weren’t immediately returned.

On Friday, the Georgetown County School District announced that it was going to “remote” instruction when it returns from Winter Break, pointing to the potential of more positive cases being discovered during the two weeks away from campus.

Georgetown County say its incidence rate skyrocketed to 590 on Friday, nearly triple what DHEC considers to be “high” spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Tidelands Health, which operates the Waccamaw Community Hospital in Murrells Inlet and Georgetown Memorial Hospital, said that it is now at 107 percent for hospital capacity and 132 percent in ICU occupancy. The hospital has 39 COVID-19 inpatients, with two others awaiting test results.

Horry County update

Just north of Georgetown County saw more of the same on Friday as Horry County continued to see triple figures in new cases, with DHEC reporting 135 on Friday, leaving the county’s 7-day average at 127.6 and monthly average at 124.5.

The county has 1,795 cases over the past two weeks, while also having an incidence rate of 517 per 100,000.

At Conway Medical Center, there are 22 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, with four in the ICU. According to a hospital spokesperson, CMC has averaged 28 COVID-19 inpatients per day over the past week.

CMC is at 69 percent hospital capacity, while having a positivity rate of 11.57 percent through Dec. 17.

CMC was the first medical facility to administer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, with hundreds having already been vaccinated.

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"We are certainly hopeful this vaccine will prove to be the game-changer we need in the fight against COVID-19. Early data from the company suggests the vaccine is both safe and highly effective,” said Dr. Paul Richardson, CMC’s chief medical officer.

“I do want to caution that this is not an overnight fix though. It will likely take months for vaccines to be available to the general public. In the meantime, we all need to continue our preventative measures of wearing masks, hand washing, and social distancing, especially heading into the upcoming holiday weeks."

Horry County Government announced that there are 33 employees currently out of work due to positive COVID-19 tests, with an additional 12 employees working remotely while awaiting their test results.

K-12 update

Horry County Schools has a total of 165 active cases of COVID-19 — the most this school year — and 282 staffers in quarantine. The district has chosen not to report students in quarantine.

Meanwhile, according to GCSD's COVID-19 dashboard, there are currently 33 active COVID-19 cases within the district, including 26 students and 7 staffers. In addition, 218 students and 56 staffers are quarantined.

Coastal Carolina update

While announcing that it wouldn’t have another COVID-19 update until Jan. 8, CCU indicated it had six new cases between Dec. 10-16, including three students.

With students not expected back until the start of the second semester at the end of January, the university sent out a memo to students on Friday that “strong encourages COVID-19 viral testing before returning to campus.”

CCU indicated that students and staff should execute the test 72 hours prior to their return.

The university also urged students or staff members to notify CCU of a positive test by sending an email to covid@coastal.edu.

Coastal Carolina indicated that students that receive a positive test during winter break must complete their isolation requirements prior to returning to campus.

CCU was hit with a trio of COVID-19 cases within its football program on Thursday, causing the Sun Belt Championship slated for Saturday at Brooks Stadium to be canceled.

Reach Nick Masuda at 843-607-0912. Follow him on Twitter at @nickmasudaphoto. 

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