Local institutions are taking precautions amid concerns over the coronavirus.
Those concerns have led to event cancellations, visitor restrictions at hospitals and organizations implementing plans as officials monitor updates and cooperate with outside agencies.
There were 33 confirmed cases for COVID-19, which is the disease caused by a member of the coronavirus family, as of Monday afternoon, according to the State Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).
Grand Strand entities are following guidance from both DHEC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Officials had reported three coronavirus cases in Horry County at the time of this posting.
An executive order from Gov. Henry McMaster, who declared a state of emergency Friday afternoon, suspends visitations at state and local correctional facilities in all 46 counties. DHEC is immediately restricting visitation to nursing homes and assisted living facilities, except in end of life situations. State price gouging laws are going into effect, and the State Emergency Management Plan is being activated.
Horry County Government is in a planning phase for possible impacts and has been developing contingency plans to keep core functions of government and public safety operational should conditions change. This could lead to limiting public hours at county buildings and offices, the cancellation of county-sponsored events and the closure of county offices.
Additionally, Myrtle Beach is asking is asking city staff members to stay home if they are experiencing symptoms of a cold, flu or another respiratory illness, and the city’s emergency management team has reviewed response plans. The city is also checking temperatures of those brought into the Myrtle Beach Detention Center, providing hand sanitizing supplies and disinfectant wipes at city counters the public visits that see high traffic and increasing standards for cleaning and sanitation routines at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center and Sports Center.
Coast RTA, the Grand Strand’s public bus service, has not changed any routes or service in response to the coronavirus, CEO Brian Piascik said in an email.
"We have posted virus spread prevention notices internally as well as on the buses and in the passenger waiting areas,” he wrote. "We have stepped up cleaning practices including wiping down all surfaces/handrails etc at least once during the day and then at the end of the day."
Coastal Carolina University officials announced Thursday they are extending spring break for students through March 20, and classes will resume March 23. Horry Georgetown Technical College has also suspended non-essential, college-sponsored travel, both domestic and international.
Tidelands Health is limiting the number of visitors at its hospitals to one adult per patient, accompanied by no more than one child ages 12-17; children under 12 won’t be permitted to visit. Visitors who have flu-like symptoms are not allowed entry. The health system is also limiting the number of entrances into Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital and Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital in Murrells Inlet.
Conway Medical Center is restricting hospital visitation to one visitor per patient, and all visitors must be between the ages of 18 and 69. Those older than 69 or younger than 18 will not be allowed to visit patients at CMC. The hospital is also asking patients to designate a single visitor to minimize foot traffic.
Those visiting Grand Strand Medical Center can enter only through the emergency room and main entrance. Visitation is limited to no more than two people over the age of 12, who are allowed to visit between 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. All facilities that are part of the McLeod Health organization are restricting visitation as well. Visitors are limited to no more than two guests over the age of 14 during normal visitation hours. Children aged 14 and under can't visit at this time.
Horry County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Brooke Holden said recently J. Reuben Long Detention Center began offering the option to communicate with inmates electronically. Staff members have been working to ensure the facility is clean, and the sheriff’s office has continued its standard procedure of giving those booked into the jail health screenings.