826 tidelands covid vaccine booster_JM01.JPG

Mary Ellen Hoffman, registered nurse, gives a patient a booster vaccine against COVID-19 at Tidelands Health near The Market Common in Myrtle Beach on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. Tidelands is hiring more than 100 people to fill temporary positions as the hospital responds to demand for the vaccine and boosters. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reported Tuesday that Horry County saw confirmed cases of COVID-19 drop by more a third compared to the previous week.

From Sept. 5 to Sept. 11, health officials reported 1,192 new cases of COVID-19 in the county — a decrease of about 34% from the previous week, with 1,806 confirmed cases.

DHEC reported Tuesday that Horry County had a combined total of 30 confirmed and probable deaths last week, a slight drop from 37 the week before. The amount of deaths still ranks the highest in the state for that week. On Tuesday, DHEC reported three more COVID-19 deaths in the county as of Sunday.

As of Sunday, Horry County had 218 confirmed cases of COVID-19, DHEC reports, ranking the county at fifth highest in South Carolina in the number of cases.

The drop in confirmed cases comes at a time where some Horry County schools are returning to the classroom following a brief stint of virtual learning.

On Sept. 3, Horry County School officials updated the district's COVID-19 quarantine rules. The new rules shortened quarantine options for healthy students that were identified as close contacts, as well as reduced the number of days schools would have to shift to virtual learning.

Aynor Middle School, the first school that moved to virtual learning on Aug. 27, returned to in-person learning on Sept. 7. The school was originally supposed to return to in-person Monday. Conway High, Loris Middle, Whittemore Park Middle and Ten Oaks Middle all returned to in-person learning Monday. All four schools were originally set to return to in-person later this week.

As of Tuesday morning, the district has less than 4,000 students in quarantine, according to the Horry County Schools' COVID Dashboard. This comes after the district had several days in previous weeks where anywhere between 20 and 25% of the entire student body was in quarantine.

Myrtle Beach Middle and Loris Elementary have the most students in quarantine with 172, the dashboard states. Carolina Forest High School has the most active cases with 38.

Overall, there are 292 total active cases across the district, with 263 being students.

Hospital update

Statistics across Horry County vary from hospital to hospital Tuesday, according to the latest COVID data released.

Conway Medical Center Spokesperson Allyson Floyd said CMC is 78% occupied as of Tuesday morning, treating a total of 47 COVID-positive patients. Of those 47 patients, 20 are in ICU and 13 are on ventilators. Floyd said that 42 of the 47 COVID-positive patients are unvaccinated, while four patients are fully vaccinated and one patient is partially vaccinated.

Between Sept. 7 and Sept. 13, CMC had eight COVID-19 deaths, Floyd said, a decrease from the 10 deaths the hospital had the week before.

Grand Strand Regional Medical Center is currently at 100% capacity, spokesperson Katie Maclay said. GSRMC is treating 78 COVID-19 patients, with 18 on ventilators. Maclay said that GSRMC had 7 COVID-19 deaths.

The hospital system did not release information regarding the number of vaccinated and unvaccinated COVID-19 patients at GSRMC.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Tidelands Health had 48 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those 48 patients, 43 were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. Of those 48 patients, 16 patients are in ICU and 11 are on ventilators. All of the COVID-19 patients at Tidelands Health who are in ICU and on ventilators are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

Tidelands Health spokesperson Dawn Bryant said that the health system had six COVID-19 deaths from Sept. 7 to Sept. 13.

According to DHEC data Tuesday:

  • Horry County hospitals are 91.5% occupied
  • 642 of the county's 702 hospital beds are occupied
  • 185 of the 642 beds are occupied by patients who have COVID-19
  • 92 of the county's 96 ICU beds are occupied, with COVID-19 patients occupying 52 beds
  • 53 of the 169 ventilators in the county are being used, with 33 being used by COVID-19 patients

Reach Ian Livingston Brooking at 843-248-6882 for any story ideas or news happening in your area.

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