Myrtle Beach area hospital occupancy rates stay high; most COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated

Coronavirus

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — As hospitals in the Myrtle Beach area continue to see an increase in occupancy rates, a majority of COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.

Conway Medical Center is at 77% for hospital bed occupancy, and it’s been in that range for the past few months. Dr. Paul Richardson said the increase in COVID-19-positive patients is what is keeping the emergency department extremely busy.

“Really in the last two weeks or so, we’ve gone from single digits to almost 50,” Richardson said. “So we’ve had a fairly rapid ramp up and been at this level for several days.”

Conway Medical Center currently has 43 COVID-19 patients. Of those 43, 37 of them were unvaccinated. Richardson said this news comes as the hospital just put their triage tents back up less than two weeks ago.

“It really breaks your spirits to see those tents go back up, to see the numbers that we’re seeing in the emergency room, to see that community positivity rate up where it is now — it’s a back-breaker, it really is,” Richardson said.

Grand Strand Medical Center said they’re at 97% capacity with 20% of their total inpatients being positive for COVID-19. Tidelands Health has an overall capacity of 107% with the ICU being at 113%. That’s why physicians are pushing for vaccination.

“The top three things to do? Get vaccinated, get vaccinated, get vaccinated,” Richardson said.

In Wednesday’s statewide South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) briefing, State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell pushed for vaccination while addressing the death of Horry County School Board member Ray Winters.

“Across our state, residents are mourning another loss,” Bell said. “An Horry County school board member died due to COVID complications earlier this week, and that came after the vice chairman of the school district suffered a COVID-related death in January.”

Bell said COVID-19 is killing loved ones and it doesn’t care how hold or young a person is.

On Wednesday, DHEC confirmed 14 deaths from COVID-19. Richardson and area hospitals are reporting a majority of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

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