Health officials, businesses emphasize healthy habits amid rise in flu deaths

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - With both confirmed flu cases and deaths on the rise in South Carolina, local businesses aren't taking any chances.

Restaurants, grocery stores and day cares across the Grand Strand are taking precautions to help prevent the flu.

"We have hand sanitizer at the door. We recommend everyone getting it," Stephanie Meyers, with Simply Southern Smokehouse, said.

The buffet-style restaurant also puts out gloves for people to use at the buffet. They also make sure employees wash their hands every time they touch a plate.

"You wouldn't believe the amount of people that do come into a restaurant or even a store sick," said Julie Garrett, an employee at Simply Southern Smokehouse.

Hand sanitizer machines and carriage wipes can be found at the Piggly Wiggly in Surfside Beach.

Manager Michael Byrd said one employee had the flu back in December and with the cases of influenza on the rise, cashiers are using hand sanitizer after every customer.

"Dealing with as many people that we do and dealing with the public, it's kind of scary knowing that it's doubled like that," Byrd said.

Flu deaths in S.C. are at 84, while cases of the disease in Horry County is over 1,500, a growth of more than 700 from last week.

"We have had a few here," said Courtney Fancher, of the Palmetto Academy and Preschool.

The number of flu cases at Palmetto Academy has been low, and staff are working to keep it that way.

Fancher, the executive director, said they don't allow the sharing of drinks and most classrooms at the schools have sinks.

"We're talking to the teachers, especially younger teachers, about talking to the students about good hygiene and the importance of hand washing and washing for an extended period of time, not just throwing water on your hands, and talking to the staff about what they can do to stay healthy," Fancher said.

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