Horry County emergency operations center activated ‘virtually’ for first time in coronavirus pandemic

Grand Strand

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County emergency officials say they’re responding to the coronavirus pandemic in a way they haven’t had to before.

You’ll typically hear about the county’s emergency operations center (EOC) activated before hurricanes, but in this crisis, everyone can’t be in the same building.

“Fortunately, in this event, we don’t have to worry about, like you do in a hurricane, so many other activities that we need to monitor, with evacuations and things like that,” said assistant county administrator Randy Webster, who oversees public safety.

Webster says the COVID-19 pandemic is making the EOC look very different. Instead of emergency employees together in a couple rooms, it’s like many other offices right now.

The work is done virtually.

“That’s the first time we’ve done that and it’s working very well,” said Webster. “We’re still having excellent information flow, working together with all the local municipalities, other agencies in Horry County, as well as state and other federal agencies.”

The county’s phone bank operators are spread out in several department buildings, instead of one central location. The phone bank is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can call 843-915-5440.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) says 19 COVID-19 cases are confirmed so far in Horry County. That number has more than doubled since Friday.

DHEC doesn’t publicly say where in the county those cases are and Webster says state health officials don’t give the county emergency department any further details either.

“We’re working with them to try to get better information and better flow with that process, but we do not know addresses,” said Webster. “We do not know the area of the county the case may be in.”

Webster also says unless the county hears about a dramatic rise in confirmed cases in a particular area, the general practices of social distancing and proper hygiene are the best advice for now.

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