MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – The state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) says a record during the pandemic of 85.8% of hospital beds are being used in the Pee Dee, which includes Horry and Georgetown counties.
South Carolina reached another record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations on Friday as well, with 1,438 patients who have tested positive or are suspected of having the virus. More than half of Horry County’s 5,375 total cases during the pandemic have come from four zip codes.
At a press conference in Columbia, Gov. Henry McMaster said the state is preparing, especially with the National Guard, if the health care system becomes overwhelmed.
“There are some hospitals, particularly in the Grand Strand area, that are higher than the average,” Gov. McMaster said.
DHEC says the zip code 29588, which is for Socastee, along with parts of Forestbrook and Burgess, has the third most cases in the state with 812. In the last 15 days, 534 of those cases were confirmed. Socastee is behind most of the city of Charleston (29403 has 924 cases) and is close to overtaking a zip code west of Greenville (29611 has 814 cases).
Zip codes for Carolina Forest (29579), Conway (29526) and Myrtle Beach (29577) are also in the top 10 for the most cases. Carolina Forest’s zip code is fifth with 792 cases, Conway’s zip code is eighth with 668 cases and Myrtle Beach’s zip code is ninth with 647 cases.
In the last 15 days, Carolina Forest has added 429 cases, Conway has added 355 cases and Myrtle Beach has added 382 cases.
“As you’re seeing rises in those zip codes, it just makes sense that they would be coming here for services,” said Dr. Paul Richardson, chief medical officer of Conway Medical Center.
Dr. Richardson says the hospital has seen a sharp increase in COVID-19 patients, with 30 to 40 at Conway Medical this week.
“It is harder on the elderly and those with chronic conditions, but at the same time, we have seen some young patients quite sick,” he said.
Dr. Richardson says Conway Medical has actually seen a slight decrease in overall capacity this week to about 65%, but the worst may not be over yet.
“A lot of what we’re seeing may be a bump from Memorial Day,” said Dr. Richardson. “Now we’re anticipating who knows what will happen over the next couple of weeks with July 4th.”
Dr. Richardson also says he’s concerned younger people with the coronavirus may eventually spread it to older people and Horry County estimates say about 37% of the population is 55 or older.