As coronavirus cases rise, Conway leaders considering mask mandate, Horry County leaders aren’t


CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – With coronavirus cases rising and Myrtle Beach leaders passing a mask-wearing mandate Thursday, Horry County’s government doesn’t appear to be joining them, but Conway city leaders might.

You’ll need a mask in most places in Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach on the Fourth of July weekend, but that’s not the case outside city limits. Horry County Council has not passed a face covering ordinance and there are no plans to do so.

Council member Johnny Vaught, who represents parts of Carolina Forest and Forestbrook, says the county would follow a mandate by Gov. Henry McMaster. The governor, however, has said he’s leaving that decision to local governments.

Vaught also says because of population density, the county is in a different position than cities like Conway, which may have a face covering ordinance soon.

“We are moving about the planet as if there is no such monster virus,” says Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy.

Conway’s mayor is still recovering from the coronavirus about a month later, but says she’s almost 100% better.

“What was slow to return is my level of energy and my taste of food,” Mayor Blain-Bellamy says. “They have both returned.”

Four Horry County cities or communities are in the top 15 zip codes for total COVID-19 cases in the state. Here are the totals as of Wednesday, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC):

  • Carolina Forest (29579) – fourth in the state, 524 total cases
  • Socastee (29588) – seventh in the state, 502 total cases
  • Conway (29526) – ninth in the state, 457 total cases
  • Myrtle Beach (29577) – 14th in the state, 400 total cases

According to DHEC’s zip code numbers, 44.6% of all cases in Socastee during the pandemic were observed in the last week (224 cases). About a third of total cases for Carolina Forest (161 cases), Conway (144 cases) and Myrtle Beach (135 cases) were recorded in the last week.

Conway City Council will consider a mask requirement at a meeting Monday.

“Our semi-return to normalcy, just in terms of opening up businesses, stands at risk,” said Mayor Blain-Bellamy.

Conway’s mayor says she supports a face covering mandate to slow down the virus’s spread.

“We have a great opportunity to stand tall, to do what’s right, to follow the science, the CDC, DHEC, the doctors, the people who know,” Mayor Blain-Bellamy said.

News13 reached out to Surfside Beach’s mayor Thursday to ask if town council is considering a mask mandate, but hasn’t heard back.

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