HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – Exactly one year ago, the vocabulary changed.
Coronavirus, social distancing and work from home were completely new terms. Now, they’re used every day.
On March 15, 2020, all of Horry County changed as well. This was the day officials with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced the first three reported COVID-19 cases in the county, bringing the total number of cases statewide at the time to 28.
News of the Grand Strand’s first confirmed coronavirus cases prompted the city of Myrtle Beach to enter a state of emergency.
“The fact that we now have one confirmed case in Myrtle Beach changes the scope of how the city needs to react to this,” Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune said at the time.
From there, cases slowly climbed throughout county and the state.
An early reopening brought tourists to the coast and people out of their homes. No mask mandates were in place just yet.
By July, cases in Horry County spiked and hit its first peak. At that point, the city of Myrtle Beach passed a mask mandate.
Similar high levels returned in December. That same month also brought the first of three COVID-19 vaccines.
As of Monday, tens of thousands of vaccine doses have been administered county-wide, from small pharmacies to mass vaccination events.
“This is really a time for us to be optimistic as we approach the post-pandemic world,” said Dr. Gerald Harmon with Tidelands Health.
March 2020 and March 2021 is only 12 months apart but the status of the COVID-19 pandemic couldn’t be any different.
Harmon said while we’re not out of the woods by any means, from vaccines to treatments, health officials are now much more equipped to treat and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Approximately 365 days later, there’s been 27,573 confirmed coronavirus cases in Horry County and 422 confirmed deaths.
S.C. has confirmed 454,683 cases since the start of the pandemic and 7,849 deaths.
The remaining statewide COVID-19 restrictions are now removed. However, many cities and towns - including Myrtle Beach - continue to have mask mandates in place.
President Joe Biden said all adults should be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine by May 1 and small gatherings of people should be able to celebrate the Fourth of July together.