HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – Officials with the Department of Health and Environmental Control said Horry County is officially a hot spot for the coronavirus, as cases in the area continue to climb.
DHEC announced on Monday that Horry County has 61 new cases, which is the highest single-day case number since the agency started tracking the virus.
WMBF News spoke with DHEC physician Dr. Brannon Traxler who feels it’s because many people aren’t following the advice of public health professionals and are scaling back on wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
Two weekends back, thousands of tourists made their way to the Grand Strand to celebrate the Memorial Day weekend on the beaches. Traxler said the busy holiday traffic might have contributed to the virus numbers Horry County is currently seeing today.
"[Possibly from] the effect of people relaxing their social distancing and gathering in larger groups,” Dr. Traxler said. “That would fit into the appropriate time period, as far as more people being exposed to the virus.”
Although increased testing sites could be a contributing factor to the spike in cases, Traxler feels another factor is people who know they’ve been exposed to the virus but are making the choice to not self-quarantine.
“If you have been directed by a health professional or someone from DHEC that you need to quarantine or isolate yourself because you’ve been exposed to or been confirmed with COVID-19, we ask that you, every person that’s been given those instructions to follow that advice. Not only for yourself but for your family and your loved ones,” Traxler said.
Mayor Brenda Bethune released this statement to WMBF News about DHEC designating Horry County as a hot spot area:
“I think there are several factors regarding the increases we’re seeing. We now have more tests if available, therefore we have more people being tested. We are beginning our peak tourism season which means more people coming here from areas that are still in their peak, and people have become more relaxed with social distancing, wearing masks and practicing sanitation guidelines. The fact is that we are still in a pandemic and we need to take the precautions seriously.”
DHEC is encouraging all residents to wear a mask and stay six feet apart, to prevent COVID-19 cases from spiking any further in Horry County.
Dr. Traxler added that DHEC has also identified Greenville County and Lexington County as hot spot areas, based on the spike in confirmed cases.