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Grand Strand doctor on steady rise in COVID-19 cases: ‘No need to panic’

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 8:27 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - The busy summer season along the Grand Strand has not only brought a rise in visitors, but also an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

On Tuesday, The Department of Health and Environmental Control reported 230 new COVID-19 cases in South Carolina, with 24 of those in Horry County.

DHEC’s COVID-19 dashboard shows a steady increase in Horry County’s percent positive. The data also reveals the county’s seven-day average case count is at 10.7, which is the highest it’s been all month.

Grand Strand doctor urging you to take safety precaution during events, amid steady rise in...
Grand Strand doctor urging you to take safety precaution during events, amid steady rise in COVID case(DHEC)

The rise has some expressing concerns that another surge could possibly be around the corner.

But the chief medical officer for Conway Medical Center, Dr. Paul Richardson, said this is no time to panic because the county has come a long way with reducing the spread of the virus.

“We got to put this in perspective, compared to several months ago, we are dealing with much smaller numbers,” Richardson said. “That is a fact. But we did have a period there for several weeks where our numbers got way down. However, we see a trend here, an uptick. I’m afraid people have let their guards down. I think that’s where we’re seeing a resurgence.”

But he also added that we’re not out of the woods just yet.

For that reason, Richardson urges people to continue taking safety measures when possible, which includes social distancing and using hand sanitizer.

As of now, Richardson said we don’t yet know what direction we’re truly headed in with COVID-19 cases.

“I definitely don’t want to be one to cause panic or anything of that nature,” Richardson said. “I think we’re going to see these trends for quite a while, kind of up and down. But doing common-sense measures is still not a bad idea. I still use a lot of hand sanitizer. When I can, I try to avoid large crowds.”

Some Grand Strand businesses said they’re keeping a close eye on the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases.

Like many businesses, Mr. Fish owner, Ted Hammerman, said his restaurant is continuing to overcome pandemic-related challenges, which includes staffing shortages.

Instead of being open seven days, Hammerman said the business is having to stay open five days.

He said being a vendor at upcoming events will help his business, and he’s just hoping history won’t repeat itself with opportunities being canceled due to COVID cases.

“If those numbers go up it creates problems again,” Hammerman said.

Destination North Myrtle Beach President Cheryl Kilday said she’s also watching the COVID data.

She said vendors and businesses have been excited to participate in events and are looking forward to additional opportunities coming up this fall, which includes the Irish Italian International Festival and sporting activities at the NMB Park and Sports Complex.

She’s hopeful nothing will change.

“A lot of different organizations are monitoring what those numbers are looking like. We advise people to check the city’s website and ours to see if there’s any sort of notice or expectations for people,” Kilday explained. “A lot of businesses count on certain uptick in foot traffic which helps them sustain themselves throughout the year, that customer contact helps them earn what they need.”

WMBF News reached out to Grand Strand leaders to confirm what additional safety plans and measures they may have in place for events, in the event COVID cases do rise. We’re waiting for a response.

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