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A woman shops with her mask on Main Street in North Myrtle Beach on Friday. The North Myrtle Beach City Council passed a mask ordinance this week. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) on Friday announced 1,346 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Carolina, including 82 in Horry County.

DHEC officials also announced 45 additional deaths linked to COVID-19. Five of those patients were people from Horry County; three of them were elderly and two of them were middle-aged.

It brings the county’s cumulative COVID-19 case total up to 7,957 with 124 deaths connected to the disease. The statewide case total is now at 88,523 with 1,647 deaths.

As of Thursday, a total of 755,034 tests for the disease have been conducted in the state.

"The total number of individual test results reported to DHEC yesterday statewide was 7,065 (not including antibody tests) and the percent positive was 19.1%,” DHEC's release said.

Currently, there are 143 mobile COVID-19 testing events scheduled through Sept. 29 with new testing events added regularly. Find a mobile testing clinic event near you at scdhec.gov/covid19mobileclinics.

Here are some upcoming testing events in our area:

  • 8 a.m.-noon on Saturday, Aug. 1 at Chesterfield Missionary Baptist Church (8591 S.C. 90, Longs)
  • 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1 at Myrtle Beach Pelicans Stadium (1251 21st Ave. N., Myrtle Beach)
  • 5-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 4 at North Myrtle Beach Drag Strip (2001 Star Bluff Road, Longs)

Residents can also get tested at one of 215 permanent COVID-19 testing facilities across the state. Visit scdhec.gov/covid19testing for more information.

DHEC urges South Carolinians to practice social distancing, wear a mask in public, avoid group gatherings, wash hands regularly and stay home if they are sick to help prevent COVID-19's spread.

Go to scdmh.net for stress, anxiety and mental health resources from the state Department of Mental Health.

The four major hospital systems in Horry and Georgetown counties, Conway Medical Center, Grand Strand Health, McLeod Health, and Tidelands Health, announced Friday they are uniting in a joint effort to help combat the disease's spread.

"It's going to be a very robust public awareness campaign that will include TV commercials, billboards, and an open letter sent out in various mediums that is going to urge community and those visiting to do their part, wash hands, social distance and wear mask," Grand Strand Health CEO Mark Sims.

"We're excited about this campaign," he added. "It's going to stress the importance of each of us — anyone that lives in our region or who is visiting, to really follow precautions."

Dr. Gerald Harmon, vice president of medical affairs with Tidelands Health, said his health system is close to being overwhelmed right now.

"We're in a serious pandemic and it's not a hoax," he said. "We risk not being able to deliver needed healthcare to our patients."

Harmon said in mid-June, his hospital system had between one and three COVID-19 patients. Today, there are 52, with nine more awaiting test results.

"We also have nine patients in the emergency room that should be in [the Intensive Care Unit], but the ICU is overwhelmed," Harmon said.

In their open letter to the public, the group pleaded with the community to do their part to help prevent the spread of the virus.

"Our hospitals are at or near capacity," their statement said. "Our emergency departments and critical care units are full as we care for a surge of COVID-19 patients."

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