MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) – Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune went on a national network on Wednesday to address a number of issues facing the city as coronavirus cases continue to rise.
Bethune was interviewed by MSNBC about the upcoming executive order on mandating masks in the city and how tourism has had an impact on COVID-19 cases in Myrtle Beach.
Myrtle Beach City Council will be discussing the executive order during a special meeting on Thursday. The mayor said that the mask issue is important and wishes that the city had done it sooner.
“I think the mask order is crucial, especially this weekend, and you know hindsight is 20/20. Our hotels opened back up about four weeks ago, I wish we had done it then, but we didn’t have the same issues as we do today, so we are seeing increases in cases and I think we have to do this tomorrow,” Bethune said.
Another major issue is that governors and health officials from several states are urging their residents to either not visit Myrtle Beach or quarantine for 14 days after visiting. This comes after groups have claimed they contracted the virus while on vacation in Myrtle Beach.
Bethune said that the blame game needs to stop.
“Myrtle Beach is a very small portion of Horry County, literally 2% of the entire county, and there’s no way to determine exactly where everyone contracted virus or if people coming here brought it here,” Bethune said. “Our cases were well under control and when we opened back up to our visitors that’s when we started seeing those spikes. I’m not one to place blame on anyone. I think we have to deal with the situation that we’re given and placing blame doesn’t help solve issues, so we are dealing with that.”
Myrtle Beach spokesperson Mark Kruea also added to the mayor sentiments and said that the community and visitors should also do their due diligence and protect themselves.
“One of the first questions should be, ‘Did you wear a mask in public and practice safe social distancing while you were visiting the Grand Strand?’ Kruea said in a statement. “We all need to do a better job of protection if we are to stop the spike. It would seem hard to criticize the destination if you aren’t following the safety guidelines while visiting.”
During the interview with MSNBC, Bethune said that unlike many other cities, Myrtle Beach must walk a fine line between keeping everyone safe and also protecting businesses.
“Public safety is top of mind every single day and will continue to be especially for our residents and our entire community, but our business community has suffered, tourism is our only economy here, so we really thrive on our visitors. We need it to survive and our businesses have done an amazing job of taking care of their employees, following all of the safety and social guidelines that are in place and now we just need to take that a step further and all of us need to do our part with wearing of the masks and getting the message out.”