MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – While the coronavirus pandemic shut down South Carolina, suspected opioid overdoses in Horry County increased by 24 percent, according to preliminary data collected by DHEC. The state compared EMS responses to suspected overdoses from March 13 through July 31 to last year.

Horry County’s increase to 407 cases was lower than the state average; suspected overdoses across South Carolina increased by 53%.

Suspected opioid overdoses in July dropped compared to May and June, according to DHEC, but the number was still up from last year.

The overdose rate in Greenwood County ranked highest in the state, followed by Jasper, Union, Lancaster, Dillon, Chester, Georgetown, and Laurens counties. Horry County had the tenth highest overdose rate in South Carolina.

Preliminary reports help DHEC identify trends, Mark Swart, an opioid communicatons strategist for DHEC, wrote to News13. “It is not inclusive of all other types of sources which are captured in our formal end of year reports.”

The state recently launched a support line for people in need of mental health or substance abuse services during the pandemic.

The support line can be reached at 1 (844) SC-HOPES (724-6737), and will connect callers to trained clinicians who can address their specific needs. Additional resources, such as treatment locations, opioid facts, and drug safety and disposal guidelines are also available at