More than 80 Horry County employees exposed to Covid-19, 911 employees awaiting test results

Local News

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – More than 80 Horry County employees are working remotely or using medical leave after exposure to Coronavirus.

Since the pandemic began, 24 County employees have tested positive.
Right now, 11 employees from the Horry County 911 Center are waiting for test results after being exposed from a fellow employee who tested positive.

“The positive person only worked three hours in the department this past Thursday, so they really weren’t around as many people and they weren’t there for a long time, but to err on the side of caution when we found out that person was positive, we decided to test the others,” 911 director, Renee Hardwick said.

Hardwick says the biggest change she noticed at the 911 Center during the pandemic, is the change in call volume and changing their day-to-day practices to allow for more cleaning and social distancing.

She tells News13, due to the nature of what they do, telecommunicators can’t really work from home.

“It takes all of our tools to do our job,” Hardwick said. “We’re talking about people who have five to six computer screens and four or five computer systems they’re working.”

According to CDC guidelines though, 911 dispatchers can come into work after Covid-19 exposure.

“The CDC has said that you have essential workers who can work and here’s how they can work even if they’re positive as long as they’re not symptomatic,” Hardwick explained. “All of us could be walking around and half of us positive and not be symptomatic, but we can still work and we would just try to follow those guidelines the best we can.”

Hardwick continued to explain how their department will handle Coronavirus exposures.

“If somebody come in contact with someone who tests positive or we think that then, of course, we can test them and they can still work, you know, until they’re symptomatic, but once someone’s symptomatic, that’s a completely different circumstance,” she said. “We’re going to send them home immediately and then we’re going to clean again their work area which is cleaned numerous times a day in all and then we’re going to hold that work station for so many hours, just to, just on the side of caution.”

Hardwick says whether the tested employees test positive or not, staffing is always a concern when working in public safety, but if they find themselves in a staffing pinch it’s all hands on deck.

“We also have five of our ten administrative people who are qualified and certified to answer calls and we use those in a pinch,”she explained. “We’ve already done that for other purposes, you know where we had several events come up at one time and we just needed extra help.”

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