Myrtle Beach COVID testing

Tidelands Health hosted a free COVID-19 testing event at Myrtle Beach Pelicans Stadium in late May. Photo by Christian Boschult 

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control on Friday announced 1,725 cases of COVID-19 in South Carolina, with 175 new cases from Horry County.

The agency announced 23 new deaths related to the viral disease, including two elderly people in Horry County.

It brings Horry County's case total up to 5,375 with 67 who've died. South Carolina's total is now 52,273 with 922 deaths. 

DHEC says 89 percent of COVID-19 patients have recovered; the rest have died or are currently ill. 

The state's hospital capacity on Friday was 76 percent, with 8,099 beds in use, and 2,598 available. Around the state, 1,438 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, and 177 were on ventilators. 

Horry County's hospital capacity as of Friday was almost 87 percent with 116 beds available. 

After three days, the percentage of tests that came back positive dropped on Thursday, when 17.8 percent of tests comeback positive. 

Gov. Henry McMaster on Friday announced an executive order that prohibits the sale of alcohol at restaurants and bars after 11 p.m. in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 among young people. 

"Since June 1, we’ve seen a 436.5 percent increase in newly reported COVID-19 cases in this 21-30 age group," said DHEC Director of Public Health Dr. Joan Duwve Friday. "Forty-two percent of all our COVID-19 cases have been reported within the past two weeks. Please think about that. Nearly half of the COVID-19 cases in the state of South Carolina have occurred in the past two weeks.”

White Realty, owned by North Myrtle Beach city councilor Terry White, will close in the coming months, thanks in part to COVID-19.

Terry's son Wayne White, a Coastal Carolina University athletics hall of fame inductee, will rejoin CCU. Depending on his job duties, he may not be able to call North Myrtle Beach High School football games on WRNN when the season starts up. 

McMaster said Friday that if the state doesn't see an improvement in it's new case numbers, he may take even more restrictive action. 

While South Carolina is now testing 140,000 people per month for June, July and August, and plans to test 165,000 a month for the rest of the year, health officials are worried about the sheer number of patients requiring hospitalization - another category that's trending toward a younger population - and the percent of tests that are coming back positive. 

On Friday, the New York Times cited South Carolina as the third worst locale in the world for the most new COVID-19 cases per capita over the last seven days. Arizona and Florida took first and second, respectively, and the country of Bahrain came in fourth. The Times cites data from state and local health agencies (including "probable" cases) and Johns Hopkins University. 

"So we are saying emphatically, it’s time for our younger adults to behave like mature adults," said McMaster. "This is very serious. Wear your mask. Keep that distance. Wash your hands. Be careful. Don’t cough or sneeze or get too close to people, particularly the older people. Because although our younger people may feel just fine and show absolutely no signs and no symptoms, they might be just carrying that virus, as we know from the statistics, and unintentionally inflict permanent damage." 

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