Beth Holmes gets tested for COVID-19 Saturday in Myrtle Beach during a free testing event hosted by Tidelands Health at Pelicans Stadium. Photo by Christian Boschult 

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported 70 COVID-19 deaths in Horry County. The number of deaths counted by DHEC was 170.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental control on Tuesday announced 909 new cases of COVID-19 in South Carolina, including 29 in Horry County.

DHEC announced 18 new confirmed deaths, with none in Horry County

Horry County's cumulative total of COVID-19 cases is 9,087 including 168 who've died.

The state's cumulative total is 112,088 with 2,408 who've died.

DHEC on Tuesday reinforced the benefits of wearing masks, but warned that neck gaiters are the least effective at preventing the spread of the virus. 

"The data continues to reinforce what we’ve already known about proper wearing of masks and their success in helping to stop the spread of this deadly virus,” said DHEC physician Dr. Brannon Traxler in a news release. “Wearing a mask every day in public is critical, however, not all face coverings provide the same protection. A recent study by Duke University shows that neck gaiters may be among the least effective types of face coverings for preventing the spread of respiratory droplets.”

Gaiters are stretchy circular tubes of fabric that are usually worn around the neck and can be pulled over the mouth and nose when in public. The Duke University study found that more respiratory droplets passed through the gaiter than other types of masks, although the type of fabric can play a role in their effectiveness.

“A close-fitting face mask can be made from common household fabrics and can be very effective in preventing spread of the virus while also providing comfort and breathability,” Traxler said in the release. “We should regularly wash our reusable masks and properly dispose of temporary-use masks when they begin to show signs of wear.”

DHEC released more data Tuesday proving the effectiveness of masks. 

According to the state health agency:

• Nearly 40 percent of residents, or about 2,000,000 South Carolinians, live in jurisdictions that have local mask requirements in place.

• Jurisdictions with mask requirements have shown a 44.2 percent greater decrease in the total number of cases about a month after after the requirements were implemented when compared to the jurisdiction without mask requirements.

• Jurisdictions with mask requirements have seen an overall decrease of 43 percent of total cases for the five weeks after the requirements were implemented compared to before the requirements were in place. This is an overall decrease of 99.2 cases per 100,000 people from before the mask requirements to after.

• Jurisdictions without mask requirements have experienced an overall increase in total cases of 1.2 percent when compared to jurisdictions with a mask requirement in place.

The state reported 5,226 of COVID-19 test results from Monday. Of those, 17.4 percent were positive. The number does not include antibody tests. Since the pandemic began, the state has tested 968,583 samples.

The state's hospital systems were at just under 77 percent capacity on Tuesday.

Of the state's 1,460 ICU beds, 1,070 were occupied, with 261 ICU beds holding COVID-19 patients. 

Of the state's 1,588 ventilators, 474 were in use, with 174 used by COVID-19 patients. 

Tidelands Health is offering free drive-through COVID-19 testing every Tuesday in Pawleys Island and every Friday in Myrtle Beach.

The Pawleys Island testing is scheduled for 3-5 p.m. or until supplies run out every Tuesday at the Precious Blood of Christ Catholic Parish at 1633 Waverly Road.

The Myrtle Beach testing is scheduled for 2-5 p.m. or until supplies run out every Friday at Horry-Georgetown Technical College's Conference Center at 950 Crabtree Lane.

Each testing event will have enough DHEC-supplied test kits to handle 250 people. Pre-screening is not required.

Throughout the month of August, Horry County has not seen a day with a daily COVID-19 case total of more than 100. The last time the county saw more than 100 daily new cases of COVID-19 was July 28. Unincorporated Horry County, Conway, Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and Atlantic Beach all have mask requirements.


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