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2 hospitals at 114% capacity as COVID-19 surge continues in Horry, Georgetown counties

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Tidelands testing swab

A health worker wearing protective gear takes swab samples from a resident to test for the coronavirus at a Georgetown High School testing site on July 10, 2020. File/Kareem Wilson/South Strand News 

MYRTLE BEACH — A day after Conway Medical Center made history by injecting five staff members with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, a sobering report from the area’s hospitals showcases the continuing rise of COVID-19 throughout both Horry and Georgetown counties — including a hospital chain at 114 percent capacity.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced an additional 130 new COVID-19 cases in Horry County, while reporting 13 in Georgetown County.

For Horry County, it is the 13th time in 15 days it has seen more than 100 cases, the first time since July 6-20 that this has occurred. The county’s seven-day average for new cases is 124.1, while its incidence rate has skyrocketed to 523, which is more than double than what DHEC considers to be “high spread.”

Georgetown County’s incidence rate has moved to 440 while having a seven-day average 21.7 cases, more than double its November rate of 9.

The rising numbers have been felt at CMC, Tidelands Health and Grand Strand Health, cumulatively hosting 109 COVID-19-positive inpatients as of Tuesday afternoon.

At Tidelands Health, which operates hospitals in Murrells Inlet and Georgetown, the facility is at 114 percent hospital-bed occupancy, while its ICU is at 106 percent capacity. There are 40 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, with two additional awaiting results.

Grand Strand Health has 37 positive COVID-19 inpatients, with four in the ICU. According to a hospital spokesperson, the COVID-19 test positivity rate last week was 15.1 percent, while it is 14.6 percent so far this week. The hospital is at 94 percent capacity, while the ICU is at 89 percent.

CMC has seen a rise from 27 COVID-19 inpatients on Monday to 32 on Tuesday, with 13 in the ICU and three on ventilators. The hospital bed occupancy rate is 86 percent, with a positivity rate of testing for the month of December at 11.14 percent.

According to a hospital spokesperson, CMC has seen a significant uptick since the outset of December. As of Nov. 30, CMC was averaging 20 inpatient positives per day. The hospital had dipped down to single digits per day throughout September, while reaching no higher than 21 per week in late November.

The highest CMC has seen since the outset of the pandemic was 50 inpatient positives a day the week of July 20.

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Horry County government cases

According to an email sent to Horry County employees, the county has 18 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases, while 14 remain out awaiting test results as of Friday.

To date, the county detention center has had 43 positive cases, with five still recovering and an additional eight pending results.

The Horry County Clerk of Court also has five active cases.

The Horry County Police Department has two active, two pending and 25 historic cases. The Stormwater Department is the only other outlet with multiple active cases, with two.

K-12 updates

Horry County Schools is reporting the most active cases to date as of Tuesday afternoon, with 138 according to the district's dashboard. That includes 86 students and 52 staffers.

The district also has 311 staff members in quarantine, a steep rise from 224 as of Friday afternoon and 102 as of Dec. 2. The district has chosen not to report students in quarantine.

Meanwhile, Georgetown County School District is reporting 37 active COVID-19 cases, 30 among students and seven among staffers. GCSD also indicates that 156 students and 64 staffers are in quarantine.

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

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