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An elderly Horry County resident with COVID-19 has died, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced Tuesday.

The death was one of two DHEC revealed in a news release. The other patient was an elderly person from Florence County who DHEC said had underlying health conditions. The Horry County person had no underlying health conditions.

“Sadly, we have to announce again today that we’ve lost fellow South Carolinians due to complications from COVID-19,” Dr. Jonathan Knoche, a DHEC physician, said in the release. “Our thoughts and sympathies are with the individual’s family and friends, as well as the medical professionals who extended the utmost care for this person. This unfortunate announcement is a reminder that we all have the responsibility to protect ourselves, our families, friends and community from this disease.”

So far, there have been 342 cases statewide, including 19 in Horry.

State projections provided to local officials Monday show Horry County could have 115 positive cases by April 1. Statewide, that number is expected to hit 1,700 by that date. 

The estimates are based on the first two weeks of COVID-19 impacts in South Carolina and could change, according to those records.

“While we reiterate the importance of taking daily precautions to prevent spread, we want to make sure South Carolinians are also taking steps to address the feelings of stress and anxiety that arise in this type of prolonged situation,”.  Knoche said. “Our partners at the Department of Mental Health have resources available to help, and we continue to provide guidance for coping with stress on DHEC’s COVID-19 webpage.”

COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December, but China didn’t confirm its existence until January. The virus reached America in late January. The disease mainly targets the respiratory system, and while the virus can still hospitalize young people, older people with weaker immune systems are more susceptible and have a higher mortality rate.

CDC officials have said the virus has an average incubation period of five days. Some cases can last for several weeks. That means younger healthy people without severe symptoms can still transfer the virus to more susceptible populations who might require a hospital stay to survive.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused public facilities to close, schools and universities to move online, events to be cancelled and residents to stockpile supplies in preparation for long stretches indoors, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation to practice social distancing, avoid public gatherings of more than 10 people and restrict travel.

DHEC encourages people to wash their hands frequently with soap and water, avoid touching their face and regularly clean high-use personal items. Also, individuals are asked to avoid contact with people who are sick, not share their personal items and clean frequently-touched surfaces. Those who are ill are asked to stay home from work, school and public events.

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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