CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) – Grand Strand hospitals are starting to see more coronavirus patients as cases rise in places like Horry County.
According to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), Horry County hospitals were at 95.2% capacity on Wednesday. Georgetown County hospitals were at 98.4%, Florence County hospitals were at 91.1%, Dillon County was at 81.4%, Marion County was at 67.5% and Darlington County was at 53.1%.
Horry County’s trend over the last few weeks has doctors on alert.
“As we normally see these peaks, as we’ve come to learn, you have to really watch this thing day to day,” said Dr. Paul Richardson, who’s the chief medical officer at Conway Medical Center.
Dr. Richardson says the number of COVID-19 positive patients has doubled in the last five days.
“As of [Wednesday] morning, we had 16 COVID inpatient positives and on Friday, we had eight,” he said.
That’s still much lower than the roughly 40 coronavirus patients at its highest point during the pandemic. Since hospitalizations can lag behind positive test results, Dr. Richardson says he’s concerned with the recent uptick in Horry County.
According to DHEC data through Tuesday, the county’s seven-day average is about 95.4 daily cases. That’s more than tripled over the last two weeks, when the seven-day average was about 29.9 daily cases on Sept. 30.
Cases in Georgetown County have also risen, although remain at a significantly lower level than Horry County. As of Tuesday, the seven-day average was about 16.71 cases. That has more than tripled from the seven-day average on Sept. 30 of 4.86 daily cases.
Dr. Richardson also says Conway Medical hasn’t seen one age group stand out in these most recent cases, but all COVID-19 patients at the hospital are adults.
“We’re looking at our overall percent positivity, which is starting to creep up as well,” said Dr. Richardson.
While not as dramatic of an increase, the positive test rate in Horry County has nearly doubled in the last two weeks. On Sept. 30, DHEC says the seven-day average of positive tests was about 9.7%. On Tuesday, the seven-day average was up to 18.2%. The World Health Organization recommends governments should be at 5% for 14 days before relaxing restrictions.
Dr. Richardson says everyone needs to continue wearing masks and practice social distancing, especially as the weather gets colder.
“I know people are sick of it,” he said. “I’m sick of it, but we have to keep doing that stuff. We are entering flu season now. We’re starting to see some influenza, so folks really need to pay attention.”
Dr. Richardson also echoed many other medical experts, saying that it is extremely important to get a flu shot this year to prevent all illnesses.