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COVID-19: How our lives have changed one year later

Published: Mar. 11, 2021 at 9:28 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - March 11 will go down as a date no one will soon forget.

On that day in 2020, the coronavirus began to take hold and change the course of day-to-day life after the World Health Organization labeled it a pandemic.

Now, phrases like “social distancing” and “self-quarantine” once never thought of, are now ingrained in our vocabulary.

To date, South Carolina has reported 452,004 confirmed cases of the virus - while 7,803 deaths have been reported that are linked to COVID-19.

As the state even reports its lowest daily case count since last June, March 11 marks a solemn reminder of where we all were just one year ago

In Horry County, the virus was still a new topic by that time.

Gov. Henry McMaster had addressed his concerns about the unknown virus popping up in South Carolina a few days earlier on March 7, 2020.

A week later, Myrtle Beach saw its first reported case. It was also the same day McMaster closed all schools in the state; and spring break vacations began being cut short by local, state and federal requirements and guidelines.

McMaster later shut down all public access to the beaches and waterways, signaling the beginning of a summer like no other.

“The enemy we face with this virus is bigger than any type of irritation or inconvenience that any of us could have,” the governor said on March 30, 2020.

After weeks of recommending people stay home, those recommendations soon became mandates, which would be monitored by law enforcement. As weeks turned to months, restaurants began to adapt by offering curbside pickup, delivery and outdoor dining in hopes of staying in business.

Schools also walked a tightrope, with virtual learning becoming the norm by the end of the last school year.

Some states even saw mask mandates become the norm, but McMaster never formally required masks be worn in South Carolina. So, counties and cities across the state took their own action in July.

A few of those orders even remain in place nearly a year later.

However, some did not agree with making masks mandatory - particularly members of the Horry County Council.

As summer turned to fall, our world began to feel a little more normal.

By September, NASCAR returned to Darlington Raceway for the Southern 500 - and even included a limited number of fans.

Other sports also began to return, with high school football able to crown state champions by December. By the end of the year, winter sports like basketball and wrestling were also back in full swing.

Students and teachers were able to return to the classroom but for only a couple of days a week.

The holiday season also looked different, with many families choosing to stay home, instead of being with loved ones. Others chose to take the risk and travel home for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

After the holidays, case counts in Horry County and across the state surged to the highest levels seen yet.

Despite the bad news, there was some hope - the first-ever COVID-19 vaccine.

Since then, three vaccines have been approved, and efforts across the country are ramping up to get shots into every arm possible.

Even still, leaders are asking residents to not let their guard down as the fight against the coronavirus continues.

“I don’t want people to have that false sense of security that just because the vaccine is getting out that we don’t need to be cautious any longer,” said Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune. “Especially with our tourism season gearing up.”

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