Local officials: Rising COVID-19 cases are due in part to increased testing

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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – South Carolina has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks after Governor Henry McMaster lifted some restrictions in the state.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s data that shows that the zip code Loris is in has the highest reported positive COVID-19 cases in Horry County.

“Horry County has been designated as a hot spot by DHEC because of the rapid rise in positive lab testing,” said President-Elect of the American Medical Association, Dr. Gerald Harmon.

That increase in testing is what Dr. Harmon says could be a reason why Horry County is seeing more and more COVID-19 cases.

“Who would’ve thought we wouldn’t be having proms and graduations and funerals, churches. If you’d have told me that a year ago, I’d say no way, short of a nuclear bomb, nothing would do that to us, but America has stepped up and done a good job,” said Dr. Harmon.

In Horry County, the 29569 zip code that includes Loris is seeing the most reported and estimated cases according to SCDHEC data.

But, when Dr. Harmon looks at the data, he says only 67% to 70% of hospital beds are being used in the state.

“Despite the number of increased positive tests, we still don’t have an overwhelming of our medical capacity, and that’s a good thing,” Dr. Harmon said.

The zip code that Myrtle Beach falls under, 29579, has the second-most reported positive cases in the county.

Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune says she’s not surprised that the city’s numbers are increasing.

She says the higher the amount of visitors the city has, and as more testing is available, that will lead to more positive cases.

“I’m not surprised that our numbers are increasing.  It is why I was so cautious about opening our hotels so soon to full capacity. We have seen higher than expected visitors to the area which is a contributing factor and we also have more testing available. That in itself will lead to more positive cases. We will continue to monitor the situation with the State and County and educate our visitors, residents and businesses the importance of strictly following all safety guidelines. We all need to do a better job, myself included.” -Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune

Loris Mayor Todd Harrelson agrees.

“The more tests you do, naturally, the more people you know if they have it or don’t have it,” he said.

Mayor Harrelson says just as other cities are doing, they’re looking at the data and taking continued precautions.

“We’re doing all of our social distancing. We’re still practicing social distancing. We’re doing exactly what our governor has told us to do,” said Mayor Harrelson.

Mayor Harrelson also tells News13 he believes the majority of their positive cases are coming from North Carolina since they’re a border city and the nursing homes in the city.

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