‘We have seen a difference’: Grand Strand Health doctor attributes drop in COVID-19 cases to face masks

Doctors weigh in on state's COVID-19 cases

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Recent coronavirus data from the Department of Health and Environmental Control show a slow decline in cases across the state and Horry County, but medical experts are telling people not to get comfortable.

Dr. Kevin Shea, the director of Infectious Disease for Grand Strand Health, said it comes down to more people wearing a mask.

“I definitely think we have seen a difference in the numbers of cases, I think that’s been obvious,” Shea said.

He also thinks it’s reflective in what they’ve seen in their own hospital, which is no longer at its peak for coronavirus hospitalizations.

Still, he warns this is just the start, and letting our guard down only lets cases rise.

Down the coast at Tidelands Health, Chief Operating Officer Gayle Resetar said they believe it’s too early to tell what factor is causing the cases to trend downward, or if the trend will even last.

“You know, one or two, several days of time is tough to tell. We know we certainly monitor the state data for both Horry County and Georgetown County, and both counties have seen less new cases in the last seven days than the seven days prior. In the 14 day spread, the most recent seven days is lower than the prior seven days,” Resetar said.

But she added that the masks do work to reduce the spread of the virus. She said in order to see long term results, everyone needs to keep one on when they go out in public.

Resetar also pointed out that at the last two community testing events put on by Tidelands and DHEC, they’ve seen a lower positivity rate, which she said can be an encouraging indicator of how the virus is spreading.

Still, she warns that one factor doesn’t mean they’re in the clear at Tidelands.

“Hospitalizations are not declining yet, we’re still seeing daily COVID positive hospitalizations,” Resetar said.

Still, both healthcare systems say in order to see if the drop in cases will last, masks need to be kept on.

“More and more data is coming out that cases are dropping because of mask use, areas that use masks, responsibly and a large percentage of the population is compliant, those areas have low numbers,” Shea said.

The next testing event from Tidelands Health will take place at the Myrtle Beach Pelican’s stadium on August 1. More information can be found here.

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