‘Not about placing blame’: Mayor responds to W. Va. coronavirus cases linked to Myrtle Beach

Grand Strand leaders ask visitors to be responsible during pandemic

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - A growing number of counties in West Virginia now say coronavirus cases there are linked to vacations here in Myrtle Beach.

And while city leaders said they can’t prove the visitors contracted the virus within the city limits of Myrtle Beach, they said these cases should be a wake-up call to locals and to travelers.

Bethune added that Myrtle Beach isn’t fully to blame for recent coronavirus cases popping up in West Virginia. She said tourists also need to take responsibility.

“It’s everywhere. And it’s not about placing blame and saying I got it here or there, it’s about what can we do to educate people, to promote that personal responsibility, and work together,” Mayor Brenda Bethune said.

This comes after several counties in West Virginia say they have clusters of cases linked back to travel to Myrtle Beach. One county going as far to say anyone who's traveled to Myrtle Beach, should self isolate and get tested for the virus.

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Bethune said at this point, the city has to be open.

Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Karen Riordan said that since March they’ve actively changed how they message to tourists heading to Myrtle Beach. She said right now the message is: the city is open.

“It’s really a focus on, we do want you to come, there are 60 miles of wide-open beach, you can spread out, you can wear your mask, you can practice social distancing,” Riordan said.

Riordan said while reports of visitors getting the virus while on vacation are upsetting, at this time, it doesn’t change their overall marketing strategy.

She said if the governor decides to make changes, the chamber is ready to change their messaging. She added that there are plenty of resources to let travelers know what to expect when they get here.

“Well, I think we expected to see a rise in cases when tourism started coming here. We have to be ready for visitors, we are open,” Bethune said.

Bethune said that while mask-wearing is crucial, she does not think she can enforce it within city limits and thinks enforcement on mask-wearing should come from the governor’s office.

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